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If you're recovering from a bout of influenza, these foods will get you back on track as quickly as possible.

Arielle Weg
February 22, 2018

It's no secret that this flu season has been one of the worst in years—and it's still not over. You've probably read all about what foods to eat to ward off sickness and boost immunity, and if you catch a cold, we can help you find the best foods to eat to fight the illness.

But what you eat can play an important role during recovery, as well. Certain foods will help you get back on track more quickly.

So when that glorious day has come, your Tamiflu is empty, and you’ve gotten the go-ahead to come out of quarantine, make sure you get plenty of the following, according to Cooking Light’s dietitians:

Fluids

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Everyone knows you need to drink fluids while you’re sick, but it’s equally important to consume extra liquids after you’re feeling better. Food and Nutrition Director Brierley Horton, MS, RD says, “Do what you need to do to get rehydrated.”

Especially if you were running a high fever, liquids are essential. Be sure to drink fluids and eat water-rich fruits and vegetables such as grapes or cucumbers.

Lean Protein

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Packing on some extra protein is essential to getting healthy. Assistant Nutrition Editor Jamie Vespa, MS, RD recommends eating lean proteins which will help you feel less depleted.

Horton adds that when you’re sick and consuming limited calories, you’ve probably cut down your protein intake significantly. It’s essential to gradually introduce these foods into your diet. We like these chicken recipes and recipes with at least 20 grams of protein.

RELATED: 8 Things to Eat for a Healthier Gut

Nutrient-Dense Foods

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After a few days of eating very little, your body needs healthy foods to help rebuild itself and get you back to feeling 100 percent. Vespa suggests beginning with anything you can tolerate that has nutrients, even if it’s just bland foods.

It's important, however, to listen to your body and only eat when you’re hungry, says Horton. You don't want to gorge yourself trying to get nutrients in. And especially after the, flu make a focused effort to eat really healthy.

An important thing: Even if you’ve had an upset stomach don’t be afraid of fiber — your body really needs it right now.

Vespa doesn’t recommend following the popular BRAT diet, (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) that people use to reintroduce foods after suffering from a stomach virus. These foods are very low in the calories, nutrients, and protein you need after the flu to help re-energize you. But you should avoid heavy, fried, or acidic foods, especially if you’re experiencing any stomach discomfort.

Probiotics

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Probiotic foods like yogurt, tempeh, kombucha, and miso are essential in a regular diet, and can be useful specifically after taking antibiotic medications.

However, your doctor won’t usually prescribe antibiotics for the flu This is because they’re designed to treat bacterial infections and the flu typically stems from a virus. Despite this, Vespa still recommends increasing your probiotic intake post-sickness to help build you back up. She says, “probiotics strengthen immunity and build defenses.”

In addition, common side effects of many flu medications, like Tamiflu, include vomiting and diarrhea. Horton suggests if you’ve experienced these reactions to increase your usual probiotic intake to help rebuild a healthy microbiome.

Occasionally your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic for the flu for a variety of reasons. If you are taking antibiotics, like a Z-Pak, be sure you know What to Eat When Taking a Z-Pak.