It’s been a bad few years to be a human being on planet earth. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 (remember when we all called her ‘Rona?), we’ve been through wave after wave and variant after variant, each one slightly different than the one before it. Coughs and sore throats gave way to body aches and brain fog. But each and every time things got bad, one thing was always there to make us feel better: food. And that brings us to a most important question: What to eat when you have COVID?
As of July 2022, the White House estimated that approximately 70 percent of the U.S. population had already been infected with COVID-19 at one point or another. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve had COVID (even if you don’t realize it). But, as we all know, contracting one variant won’t necessarily prevent you from contracting the next to rear its achy, snotty head. To make that first (or second or third) infection more bearable, we asked members of the Mythical Crew what they ate to feel better during a bout of COVID. The next time you see those two dreaded pink lines on your home test, open your grocery app of choice and peep this list of what to eat when you have COVID.
Naturally, the ultimate comfort soup for any illness was a soothing salve for our souls when we were in bed with the COVID. There’s nothing better than hot, salty broth on a sore throat, and the noodles provide sustenance when your stomach can’t handle much more than carb-laden mush. No, ramen isn’t exactly bursting with nutrients, but sometimes a comfort food just needs to be hot, cheap, and filling to do the trick. Our favorite pick? The chicken-flavored instant noodles from MAMA, which Sporked staff writer Jordan Myrick describes as “a little peppery, delightfully oily, and so, so savory.” At $13.50 for a ten pack, they’re cheap too.
Sporked Recommends: MAMA Instant Noodles, Chicken Flavor
If you’re eating pho, you’re probably ordering in from a restaurant in your area. But if Vietnamese spots don’t abound where you live or if you want to save a little scratch, try an instant pho from the grocery store. Pho is traditionally made with bone broth, which means it’s high in protein and packs a lot of energy to promote recovery. It also contains spices like ginger, which can help settle your stomach, and lemongrass, which contains substances that promote pain relief and can reduce a fever.
- Electrolyte Beverages
Mythical post-production manager Adam “Ammo” Morales says he relied on Gatorade for a much-needed boost of hydration when he was recovering from COVID, but there are plenty of other electrolyte beverages on the market too. If you’re looking for something that comes off more like medicine, give Pedialyte a shot (the Tropical Fruit flavor was our favorite). There’s also Liquid I.V., convenient single-serving hydration packets you simply add to water. During our Liquid I.V. taste test, Jordan liked that the Lemon Lime flavor tasted like original Gatorade but with a more pronounced lemon-limey taste. If your sense of taste hasn’t been obliterated, give it a try.
Sporked Recommends: Pedialyte Advanced Care with Immune Support Tropical Fruit
Soup can be soothing, but so can the cold and creamy consistency of milk on a sore throat; it’s also a good source of calories and nutrients when you don’t feel like eating much else. Mythical studio operations coordinator Kristian Rodriguez says he ate “a lot of cereal in bed” while he was recovering from COVID (Froot Loops, in particular). Need help deciding which to buy? Sporked has ranked the best healthy cereals, the best fruity cereals, the best chocolate cereals, and more.
Sporked Recommends: Fruity Pebbles
- Ginger Ale
Ginger ale is a sick-day classic. Don’t we all remember pairing a bowl of soup with a glass of ginger ale and an episode of The Price Is Right? Ginger contains substances that can sooth an upset stomach, plus, a cold, carbonated beverage just feels good going down when you have a sore throat. If you want a good burst of ginger flavor, go with Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale. When I tried this during our ginger ale taste test, I said, “This is a big improvement on a tried-and-true original, but it still strikes a familiar note flavor-wise.”
Sporked Recommends: Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale
Mythical Crew members swear by the combo of crackers and ginger ale, especially if your COVID symptoms are stomach related rather than throat-and-chest related. Saltines are an obvious choice (we recommend Nabisco Premium), but if your taste buds are functioning, try having a little more fun. Ritz crackers are nice and buttery and have an addicted crispy, flaky consistency. And Chicken in a Biskit is loaded with chicken bouillon flavor. Seriously, it’s like having a bowl of chicken soup without having to turn on the stove or even throw anything in the microwave.
Sporked Recommends: Ritz and Chicken in a Biskit
- Chicken Noodle Soup
You can’t have a list of get-better foods without chicken noodle soup, right? Like ramen and pho, this blends the benefits of a hot, salty liquid with the carby nourishment of noodles to fill up an unsettled stomach. We tried more than a dozen varieties of CNS during our in-office chicken soup taste test, and Rao’s came out on top. “This is basically homemade chicken noodle soup sold in a jar,” Sporked staff writer Danny Palumbo says. “The noodles feel homemade—eggy, substantial, and delightfully chewy.” When you need protein plus soothing broth, this is the way to go.
Sporked Recommends: Rao’s Chicken Noodle Soup