Up to 1/5 of the population comes down with the flu each year, says Chrystle Fiedler, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Natural Remedies." The flu is often accompanied by symptoms such as headache, fever, chills, body aches, cough and runny nose. If you are able to eat while you have the flu, certain foods may be more appetizing than others. Knowing what foods to avoid can help you prevent your symptoms from getting worse and may decrease the length of time you are sick.
Sugar prevents your body from fighting off the bacteria that is causing your flu symptoms, says Linda Page, author of "Diets for Healthy Living: Dr. Linda Page's Natural Solutions to America's 10 Biggest Health Problems." Eating a diet high in sugary foods, including cake, candy and cookies, can prevent your body from getting rid of congestion, a common complaint with the flu. The sugar encourages your congestion to stick around because the mucus is a warm, moist environment that provides a place for the virus to live. Other foods that cause similar problems include high-fat foods such as french fries and fast food.
Milk can cause the mucus in your lungs and sinuses to stick around longer, which may cause you to experience symptoms for a longer period of time, says Page. Viruses thrive in the warm and moist environment provided by mucus, which may encourage them to stay in your body longer and may also cause more severe symptoms. Replace milk with water or 100 percent fruit juice until your bout of the flu is gone. Page adds that avoiding all dairy products for a few weeks after the flu will aid your lungs in making a full recovery. Replace yogurt, cheese and ice cream with other foods to potentially reduce your symptoms so you can heal faster.
Eating a vegetarian diet while you have the flu and for a few days after you get better is one way to potentially shorten your bout of illness and reduce your symptoms, says Amy Rost, author of "Natural Healing Wisdom & Know How: Useful Practices, Recipes, and Formulas for a Lifetime of Health." Animal fats hinder your body's ability to get rid of the germs causing the flu so you experience symptoms longer or experience more severe symptoms. Replace chicken, beef and pork with plant foods, such as leafy green salads to get antioxidants that fight off infection more quickly.