The pain of strep throat can make you not want to eat or drink anything for fear that certain choices could irritate your throat even more. Your best bets? Liquids and easy-to-swallow soft foods — both can help keep you nourished and ease strep throat symptoms. Read on for the best options.
While there's no recommended diet for strep throat, the foods you eat when you have strep throat can help soothe your pain and give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to recover, says Caroline West Passerrello, RDN, LDN, a Pittsburgh-based registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,
Read more: Is Cold or Hot Better for a Sore Throat?
Warm and Cool Liquids
It's no doubt we've likely all heard that warm drinks (like tea) can feel good on your sore throat. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends sipping on both cool drinks and warm liquids to help soothe your sore throat.
The AAFP suggests warm liquids such as:
Beyond those soothing, warm selections, the Mayo Clinic says that cool drinks and foods have their place when it comes to soothing sore throats as well. Some options that can help ease your strep throat pain include:
- Frozen yogurt.
- Frozen fruit pops.
AAFP also adds that sucking on pieces of ice or hard candy can also help with pain relief.
And don't forget about good ol' H2O. Per Mayo Clinic, it's important to drink plenty of water to keep your throat lubricated so that it's easier to swallow. Plus, it helps you stay hydrated, which is always important, strep throat or not.
Smoothies and Pureed Fruits
When it comes to what to eat, fruits are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants, so they can help fight off infection, Passerrello says. "Eating a variety of colors of fruit is the easiest way to ensure you're getting a wide range of immune-supporting antioxidants," she says.
But when you have strep throat, you may not be up for munching away on an apple or another piece of fruit, so pureed fruits and smoothies can be a good, easy-to-eat alternative for getting some fruit past your sore throat, Passerrello says. Plus, she says, the smoothie's cooler temperature may help soothe the soreness, and smoothies can also help you stay hydrated.
Passerrello recommends these nutrient-rich fruits for smoothies:
Beyond smoothies, both AAFP and Mayo Clinic add applesauce to their recommendations for what to eat when you have strep throat.
Soft, Easy-to-Swallow Foods
When it comes to solid foods, you're gonna want to reach for soft options that are easier to swallow and won't cause as much irritation while you're sick, Passerrello says.
Some softer foods Passerrello recommends include:
- Mashed potatoes.
- Scrambled eggs.
These foods, she says, can also help you keep up your daily calorie intake, because your daily calorie intake may be lower when you're not feeling well and may not be hungry.
Mayo Clinic adds the following soft food recommendations as well:
- Cooked cereal.
Foods to Avoid With Strep
If you decide to step outside of the recommended liquid, pureed and soft foods suggestions, there are a few specific foods and categories of foods you will want to steer clear of, as they may cause additional unwanted throat irritation.
For starters, Passerrello says to avoid foods that are sharp or hard (think seeds and nuts), which can feel abrasive and irritating on the throat. Per Mayo Clinic, you should also avoid spicy or acidic foods (like orange juice), as they can also irritate your throat.
Battling Strep Throat
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common symptoms of strep throat include:
- A sore throat that starts quickly.
- Pain when swallowing.
- A fever.
- Red, swollen tonsils.
- Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth.
- Swollen lymph nodes on the front of the neck.
Strep throat is caused by bacteria, and it can be diagnosed with a simple and quick swab test. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics for strep throat to rid your body of infection so that it doesn't spread to others or cause complications. The CDC says it's important to finish your entire course of antibiotics.
Rest, hydration and symptom relief are also important, the Mayo Clinic reports.
Read more: Strep Throat and Alcohol: Can I Drink While Sick?
Is This an Emergency?
- Caroline West Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist; spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Pittsburgh
- American Academy of Family Physicians: “Strep Throat”
- Mayo Clinic: “Strep Throat: Diagnosis & Treatment”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Strep Throat: All You Need to Know”