I have a confession to make. I’m human. And sometimes I get sick. Crazy, right? What’s crazy is that I even feel the need to say it, but when a nutritionist gets sick, people sometimes wonder how that happens and sometimes may even question whether you practice what you preach. Some of the things I’ve heard this week: “But you can’t be sick, you’re a nutritionist”; “It’s going around but I didn’t think YOU’D catch it” and my all-time favourite, “You’re not the best advertisement for what you do this week”. Funny enough, I, too, said all those things to myself when this bug hit. The fact is, when a virulent virus is going around, you have good chance of catching it…especially if you spend a lot of time indoors with people in the community or have been running flat out for weeks, something we all do that from time to time…even me.

As a nutritionist, what I do when I get sick may differ from many people. For starters, I stay home. The best way to keep a bug from spreading is to admit that the world won’t come crashing down if you take time out and sequester yourself away from others. In fact, you’re doing everyone a huge favour. The second thing I do is nourish my body with nature’s great healing foods (garlic, ginger, chili, shiitakes and citrus foods to name a few). Many times when we’re sick, we just want comfort foods (insert junk food here), but the best defense you have is fueling yourself with easily digested, nutrient-rich whole foods that can boost your immune function and help your body fight the infection naturally.

Thirdly, I avoid over-the-counter cold/flu medications, many of which contain pretty heavy hitting substances that can make you anxious and actually delay recovery. While this can be hard (and believe me in the middle of a coughing fit I sometimes struggle—can you say Senega and Ammonia?), if it’s a viral infection, let it run its course. And whatever you do, don’t take antibiotics for it! If you end up with a secondary bacterial infection that your GP thinks won’t go away on its own, then you’re likely to need them. I’m glad to see many GPs now encourage their patients to try home remedies before doling out scripts for drugs that won’t change a thing.  I do, however, use gentle nutritional and herbal remedies with proven efficacy for reducing the severity of viral illness and increase your body’s defenses. I also drink herbal teas and hot water with lemon, garlic, chili and ginger to help break up mucous and steam inhalations with dried lavender flowers or dried thyme can really help with sinus congestion.

Lastly, I slow it all down. It’s hard sometimes, but I really try to remind myself that it’s my body’s way of telling me I need a break. I grab my cuppa, my blankie, my tissues and a book and just accept what is and do my best to embrace it. Nurture and nourishment can be the best medicine ever.

Here are a few of my favourite get well  dishes: