Eating w/ an Illness (Cold/Flu)

Hey there! This content was initially only shared on the CrumbswithCrystall Instagram but with everything going on right now, I wanted to share it to the blog as well. 

Until very recently, my tiny human and I have been sick a lot since we moved to Kansas in December. Usually, when I’m sick, I’m a comfort food fiend. I tend to eat whatever I want, in whatever amount I want… which is typically a lot because my appetite doubles when I’m sick. However, this last bout of ‘bug’ was quite different. 

For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t WANT to eat. Knowing that my body needed nutrients not only for fuel and strength but also for recovery, I chose nutrient-dense foods. I immediately noticed I was more satisfied despite feeling physically miserable. I also noticed that my choices had an impact on inflammation, bloating, and water retention, which can get out of hand when your body is fighting off an illness.

This time I ended up surviving off of my favorite protein shakes, crackers, soup, fruit, and a handful of chocolate-covered cranberries. That might not sound like the most fun or even nutritious diet in the world but if you’re curious why SOME of the things I ate helped me, scroll on down.

Here are some recommendations (and reasons why) for eating while you’re sick with cold/flu like symptoms. 

*I may cover nutrition for other illnesses in the future.

Soup- it’s excellent for hydration and sodium replenishment.

Electrolyte drinks- they promote proper balance between water, glucose, and sodium in the body. If you’re not eating much or can’t keep food down, you likely need one of these to help keep you from depletion (if you can stomach one).

Herbal tea- I’d shoot for decaf here, but there’s a lot of reasons to drink some tea:

It soothes the throat, eases congestion (especially when it’s warm), and it has natural bacteria-fighting capabilities.

*Also, adding honey can help coat your throat and ease discomfort.

Citrus- is good for more than just vitamin C! While vitamin C can reduce the severity of your cold or flu symptoms, eating fruits like grapefruit, limes, lemons, and oranges are beneficial because they all have immunity booster properties.

*Also, try bell peppers and strawberries.

Leafy greens- eat ‘em. You know why.

Eggs- they’re an excellent source for protein (which you’re probably running low on diet-wise when you’re sick). They also provide zinc, which can help with the duration of your cold (but ONLY if you take/consume zinc before coming down with according to several studies).

Yogurt- this one is controversial. Yogurt COULD thicken mucus (it’s been proven but only in some cases), but it also provides probiotics and replenishes gut bacteria. Gut health is closely linked to hormone balance, so illnesses impacting your diet could cause additional symptoms.

Sweet potatoes- they guys provide vitamin A which amount other things, plays a critical role in inflammation, and enhances your immune system. They’re also a great source of glucose 🙂 And they’re a “bland” food, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble consuming these if you’re feeling a little nauseous.

If you’ve been sick lately and found something really helped you… let me know what it is! I’d love to try it next time!

-C

Healthy Eating?!

What does that even mean?

It’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (so, so sad), and you’re probably either finished with your leftover turkey and stuffing, or you’re staring down the last remaining traces of your holiday meal. Either way, I hope you had an incredible holiday with good food, great company, tons of laughs, and the opportunity to make memories you’ll cherish until you’re old enough to be excused for forgetting things!

You may have overdone it in the eating department (womp womp womp), or you may wish you’d eaten and enjoyed more, but you were worried about the impact your Thanksgiving meal would have on your progress.

*If the latter is you, that’s a topic I’ll try and touch on in an upcoming post.

Whether you under-ate, ate just enough, are still eating, or are contemplating avoiding food until January 1st, I want to “discuss” healthy eating for a moment.

You may be immediately “turned off” by the words healthy eating, thinking of dry chicken breast, egg whites, chalky protein shakes, lots of spinach, or some other food that is entirely dissatisfying to you. BUT I’m here to bring you some good news:

Healthy eating is unique to your body and your lifestyle.

*Because newsflash, if you aren’t eating according to the above-your “diet” won’t make you feel good and won’t properly fuel your body.

So as a welcome to The Crumb Corner (blog) and Crumbs with Crystall (Instagram) I’d like to present you with a simple and hopefully informative post on healthy eating. In my personal and professional opinion, a healthy diet can be defined as a pattern of eating that focuses on the consumption of energy balancing food/nutrient-dense foods. Essentially, this means that eating healthy provides your body with all of the essential nutrients for optimal function for your health and energy needs. What this looks like in my mind is consuming quality proteins (fish, lean beef, chicken, eggs), carbohydrates (oats, whole grains, veggies and fruits), and fats (avocados, dairy, nuts/seeds), while moderately consuming solid fats & foods with added sugar aka: ICE CREAM!

Some, including myself, may find the idea of “healthy eating” and still reaching their goals challenging especially because of our vast diet experience. If you’re like me, you may have attempted low carbohydrate diets, high fat diet, restrictive diets, intuitive eating diets, macronutrient focused diets and calorie counting diets. Some or all may have worked for us. Still, if we weren’t simultaneously “eating healthy,” we may have experienced lethargy, headaches, trouble sleeping, excessive mood swings, and many other not so great symptoms. Additionally, our diet (and diet attempts) may have negatively impacted our body image and confidence, our mental health, and maybe even our friends, family, and coworkers.

But I’m here today, in an effort to spark a flame inside of you that consumes your negative idea of “healthy eating” and burns it to ash. There’s so much more to you than what you eat, how much you weigh, how much you can lift, how long you can run, and how great you do or don’t look in a bathing suit. I want to remind you that your body is the only vessel you have in this life. Keeping it healthy keeps you here, walking and talking, laughing and crying, lifting and running (yuck), awake and asleep, chasing around that toddler, and hanging with your friends. AND guess what… you don’t have to run yourself ragged doing those things.

Now that the pep talk is over let’s jump to some facts. All of the information I know about dieting/nutrition is either from experience or my certifications through the AFPA. Before starting a diet or even taking my advice, feel free to do your own research. Your needs are as unique as you are!

To give you a bit of information on what you should be looking for in your “diet” (generally speaking) See the below paragraph, but if you’re looking for more of a pep talk… go ahead and skip it!

If you know your BMR/desired caloric intake, apply the following information. If you don’t know that information or would like assistance determining that, please email me at the address at the end of this post.

Your appropriate caloric intake for your body, age, gender, level of activity, etc., should be broken down like this:

Carbohydrates should make up 45-65% of your total calories (also, there is some science in 55-70% carbohydrate balance for athletes, but that’s really dependent on the athlete and their sport). Now I realize that I’ve probably lost you and you’re probably freaking out BUT… Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy AND are the body’s preferred energy source. Read that again. Not only are carbs your body’s primary source of fuel for function, but they also play a CRITICAL role in brain function.

Carbohydrates provide half of the fuel used by your muscles and tissue (fat offers the other half). If you’ve ever been on a low carb diet (lower than 130g), you may have experienced “brain fog,” which can be an indicator that you aren’t consuming enough carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are also critical to blood sugar levels and hypo/hyperglycemia. Symptoms you may experience if you’re not eating the right carbs, at the right time, or eat too many at one time and your blood sugar spikes or dips, you may get shaky and feel weak. If you believe you may have medical concerns regarding carbohydrate processing or your blood sugar, I suggest you see your doctor.

Fats are another important food group. Fats are essential for transporting nutrients through the bloodstream and should make up 20-35% of your calories. It’s important to know that 1g of fat is nine calories, while carbohydrates and protein are only four calories per gram) so they can quickly put you in a caloric surplus if you’re not monitoring them. This is why you may have heard the advice to skip the salad dressing or only eat the egg white. BUT they’re essential to your body! Just be choosey! Pick the right ones and monitor your intake. If you’re cutting fats out of your diet, you may find you’re always hungry. Fats help aid in satiety, so don’t be afraid to add some healthy ones to your meal! There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Both are ok, but mindful consume solid fats (hydrogenated oils, butter, etc.).

And the last macronutrient: Protein! My gosh, there are so many rumors about protein floating around. One of which is why I decided to start this blog. YOU DO NOT NEED 1g of protein per POUND of body weight. GOODNESS. That’s absurd. If you don’t work out (that’s totally ok, no judgment here!), you likely only need .8-1.2g per 2.2 pounds. If you’re an athlete, that range is increased to roughly 1.2-2g per 2.2 pounds. That could mean you may be happy and healthy, consuming only 100g of protein. The key here is that you’re consuming what is right for your body and lifestyle. Individuals consuming protein lower than what their body needs will likely have trouble recovering from workouts, and individuals consuming too much protein will have issues with digestion (ick).

If you’re not into calorie or macronutrient counting and you want to just eat healthy, that’s great too! Some guidelines to follow are: eat a variety of foods, focus on nutrient-dense and whole-grain sources, and eat quality protein. While protein bars, pasta, and cheesecake technically cover your “macronutrients,” make sure you’re eating the right amount of unprocessed foods. Since you’re not tracking your diet, it’s extremely easy to eat in a caloric surplus by consuming lots of processed foods! Practice moderation (and yes, I know this is a struggle… one I face daily LOL).

If you take anything from this, please know that your body requires YOU to take care of it so that it can take care of you (and so you can take care of others). It needs carbohydrates (yes, the good kind), it needs fat, it needs protein, it needs essential vitamins and minerals, and it needs a healthy mind. Just because you’re in a caloric surplus (to gain weight) or a deficit (to lose weight), doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health.

If you’d like to discuss what healthy eating may look like for you, please email me at nutritionwcrystall@yahoo.com!

*Disclaimers:

There are places in your life for dieting (regardless of diet choice i.e., IIFYM, Paleo, Keto). This post isn’t to bash the idea of dieting, but instead to help relieve some possible pressure to only diet for your goals (i.e., your ideal body, weightless, whatever) and remind you that it’s ok to diet for your health.

Also, in this post, I am not referring to athletes participating in sports that can require dietary/exercise extremes or aesthetic bodybuilding competitions. This is not within my wheelhouse and will not be something I likely discuss, so please keep in mind that my intention for my posts may not apply.