Foods to Avoid for a Sore Throat

Sliced grapefruit on a wooden tabletop.
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A sore throat occurs when your throat becomes inflamed and irritated. Soreness can be caused by many conditions including a virus, bacteria, hay fever, pollution, cigarette smoke or a respiratory infection. You may even wake up with a sore throat for these reasons.


A sore throat can affect your quality of life by making speaking, eating and even breathing difficult. Certain foods can aggravate or scratch your throat when it is already tender and sore. For best results, avoid irritating foods until your sore throat symptoms subside.

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Fatty Foods

Refrain from eating high-fat foods such as red meat, full-fat dairy products, baked sweets and deep-fried foods. According to dietitian Ilyse Schapiro on the Huffington Post website, fatty foods are harder for your body to digest and can suppress your immune system, which can worsen cold symptoms such as a sore throat. Deep-fried foods often have breading that is dry and rough, which can further irritate your throat. Instead of full-fat foods, choose lean meats like turkey, fish and chicken. Eat low-fat dairy products, and choose foods that are moist and soft such as soup or applesauce. You can even puree or grind your food if you have trouble swallowing or chewing it.

Citrus and Acidic Foods

Stay away from acidic and citrus foods like tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit, limes and lemon. The acids found in these foods can irritate and worsen your sore throat. Instead of having citrus fruits, choose fruits that are soothing to the throat such as bananas, melons, kiwi and peaches. If you are looking to add more vitamin C into your diet, you can munch on kale or red peppers instead of irritating citrus foods.


Spicy Foods

Spicy foods that contain hot sauce, chili powder, curry, nutmeg, pepper and cloves can aggravate and worsen a sore throat. To add flavor to your food, add fresh ginger, which has anti-inflammatory properties. You can also add garlic to your meals. According to a study published in "Advances in Therapy" in 2001, garlic can help reduce symptoms of a cold -- such as a sore throat -- and help you to recover faster. Garlic can even help prevent colds from reoccurring.


Coarse Foods

Foods that are rough-textured such as uncooked vegetables, granola and dry toast can scratch and worsen a sore throat. Instead of coarse foods, choose foods that are easy to swallow, soft and semisolid such as cheese, cream-based soups, yogurt, eggs, mashed potatoes, ice cream, cooked cereals, smoothies and casseroles. You can also moisten foods that are dry with broth or gravy and boil or steam vegetables so that they are softer and easier to swallow.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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