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Being ill and eating keto

Often in Facebook groups, people ask what is best to eat when you’re sick. Can you continue with keto? Do you have to eat when you have no appetite and nothing tastes good? Can you deviate from keto? What can you take to combat or alleviate symptoms? In this article, I will explain what you should do when you’re sick and why.

When You Have No Appetite

Our bodies are very good at indicating what they need, but we often don’t listen to our bodies. When you’re sick, you often have no desire to eat. If you stubbornly force yourself to eat, you may end up vomiting. This is a clear signal from your body, and you should definitely listen to it.

The reason this happens is that your body has no extra energy for processing food when you’re sick. It might sound strange because food provides energy, right? Yes, that’s correct, but it also requires a lot of energy for your body to convert food into usable energy and to break down what is not needed. Your body doesn’t have this energy to spare when it’s working hard to fight off germs and recover. All non-essential energy is directed toward these processes until you start to feel better. You’ll also notice that your appetite returns once you begin to recover, which is often one of the first things to come back. This is the time to listen to your body again and eat something. Until then, make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water, tea, and, if possible, strong broth (to maintain your electrolytes).

When You Regain Some Appetite

Since keto eating is much less taxing on your body and is actually good for your immune system, it is strongly recommended not to use being sick as an “excuse” to eat something else. Continue to eat keto; your body will thank you for it. You don’t have to eat full meals right away, and in fact, you probably won’t have any desire to do so. Start with something small, see how it goes, and decide how much you want to eat from there. Listen to your body once again, as it is very good at letting you know what it needs. You can start with something like soup, keto crackers, a boiled egg, a handful of unsalted nuts, a bit of chia pudding, some fresh coconut pieces, a bit of Greek yogurt with berries, cucumber slices, etc. Choose what appeals to you the most and have a small portion.

Use Your Common Sense and Don’t Fall for Anything

Often, when people ask in Facebook groups what they can eat, they receive many responses suggesting they should temporarily abandon keto and eat whatever they want, even if it’s high in carbs. Please do not listen to this advice and use your common sense and logic. You already know from experience that you feel much better when you eat keto, right? So, when your body is struggling and you’re not feeling well, you would want to choose keto to recover as quickly as possible, wouldn’t you? And again, if you’re not hungry, don’t eat; you don’t need it at that moment. Eating keto keeps you in a state of ketosis, making it easier for your body to utilize body fat for the energy it needs. Your body doesn’t distinguish between getting energy from body fat or food, making tapping into body fat even more straightforward than getting it from food, as breaking down and digesting food also requires energy.

The Flu Hits You; Make Sure You’re Prepared

Sometimes you feel it coming, but most of the time, you’re sick overnight. When you’re seriously ill, you don’t want to spend time in the kitchen. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to be prepared for this situation.
Almost all keto crackers, bread, and soups can be frozen. I personally make sure I always have them in my freezer, so it’s just a matter of reheating or briefly heating in the oven. It’s a small effort to have these items in the freezer, but you can be so thankful that you have them when you need them. I always have eggs, nuts, and seeds on hand, so you can grab those quickly.

With these basic items, you can manage on the days when you’re feeling the sickest. As you start to recover a bit, you’ll probably find the energy to go grocery shopping (or ask someone you know to help you with this; they’ll be happy to assist). Even then, it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to get good food on your plate. Keep it simple until you’re fully back to yourself. Make a nice, filling vegetable omelet, which can provide you with all the necessary nutrients and is easy to prepare.

Sore Throat, Coughing, and Runny Nose

Most remedies for sore throats and coughing contain a lot of sugar or unhealthy sweeteners, so it’s best to avoid them. However, there are remedies that work perfectly fine, even if they might not taste as good.
Sore Throat
My best remedy for a sore throat is to dissolve a heaping teaspoon of salt in water and use it to gargle. It’s definitely not pleasant, but it works amazingly well! You can do this as many times a day as you want. I usually start with three times a day and adjust as needed, either more or less. Thyme, cloves, and ginger have soothing properties, so you can make a nice tea with them.

Coughing and Runny Nose
Steam inhalation is very effective at loosening mucus, reducing lung pressure, and helping you breathe more freely. You can add a few drops of essential oil to the steam, such as eucalyptus drops or a bit of Thoco Tholin. You can also use a nasal spray without any added sugars. The most natural option is a saline nasal spray (also known as baby nasal spray), but the adult version can also be suitable from a keto perspective. You can also apply Thoco Tholin just under your nose to help you breathe more freely or put a little on a tissue and hold it under your nose regularly.

Other Medication

Paracetamol contains potato starch, so it’s not suitable if you’re aiming for clean keto. If you’re not concerned with clean keto and only look at the number of carbohydrates you consume in a day, you can take it to alleviate symptoms.

Do not confuse aspirin with paracetamol; they are entirely different products. Aspirin tablets contain cellulose powder and maize starch, making them unsuitable for clean keto. If you’re not concerned with clean keto and only look at the number of carbohydrates you consume in a day, you can take aspirin to alleviate symptoms.

Diclofenac tablets contain maize starch, and many brands also include cellulose, making them unsuitable for clean keto. If you’re not concerned with clean keto and only look at the number of carbohydrates you consume in a day, you can take diclofenac to alleviate symptoms.

Tablets: Ibuprofen tablets often contain sodium carboxymethylcellulose, methylhydroxypropylcellulose, and microcrystalline cellulose, making them unsuitable for clean keto. If you’re not concerned with clean keto and only look at the number of carbohydrates you consume in a day, you can take ibuprofen to alleviate symptoms.
Capsules: Capsules do not contain sugar, but the shell is often made of hypromellose, an increasingly popular alternative to gelatin or gluten-based capsules. If you want to stick to a truly clean keto diet, you should avoid it if hypromellose is made from grains. However, it’s still a much better choice than medication with added sugar.

Antigrippine tablets contain ethylcellulose, croscarmellose, and cellulose, making them unsuitable for clean keto. If you’re not concerned with clean keto and only look at the number of carbohydrates you consume in a day, you can take antigrippine to alleviate symptoms.

Important Note!

Sometimes, you may genuinely need certain medications to fight an infection or for other reasons. If a doctor or another medical professional recommends medication that is not clean keto, follow their advice. You can discuss your clean keto diet and your preference not to take certain medications, but there are always exceptions where it’s better to temporarily set aside clean keto for the necessary medication. Your diet outside of medication can still remain ketogenic.


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