What to Eat and Drink When You're Sick

I'm sick. I rarely get sick. Four weeks ago, I went through an extraordinarily stressful couple of days, and I came out on the other side with a stuffed up head and some breathing problems. It took about a week to kick, but I didn't feel too terrible. I still managed to swim at the gym and hang out in the steam room, which was the most therapeutic thing I did for both my stress and lungs, as well as accomplish basic chores around the house and go to work.

Now, the same thing is back, but I feel really run down this time. I set in fully today. Even walking the dog was a struggle. I got up off the couch a few times to try and get some housework done and had to sit back down, exhausted, almost immediately.

It's evening now, and I'm already starting to feel a bit better. Drinking glass after glass of room temperature carbonated water with lemon and a pinch of ground red pepper (cayenne) seems to be helping. A friend recommended something similar but made into a hot tea of ginger, lemon, cayenne, and sugar substitute.

Of course, another friend or two suggested a hot toddy with ginger, or just adding bourbon to the ginger-lemon tea.

My lunch made me feel better, too, a packet of soup mix (I was out of broth and stock, which I usually keep in the freezer) or broth loaded with fresh chopped onions, cilantro, and jalapeño.

Three weeks ago when I was barely done fighting off the stuffy nose and cough, I went to a Vietnamese cafe near my office and had some pho with lime and fresh sliced jalapeños on the side so they keep their kick and crunch rather than wilting in the broth. The broth-jalapeño combination is one of my favorites, and it really is best with cilantro, too.

For me, it's the combination of clear liquids, spice, and citrus that seems to do the trick.