Getting sick in college can be a major vibe-killer. You're going about your weekly routine, attending classes and club meetings, and going out with friends when, suddenly, your body says, "enough." Sicknesses are about as common on college campuses as break up songs on Taylor Swift albums.

But, many people don't realize that what you eat when you're sick can improve your symptoms and even cut down the duration of your sickness. So, whether you have the common cold, strep throat, mono, or the flu, this guide should help you make the right call when deciding which foods to eat at the dining hall.

The Common Cold

juice, citrus, sweet, tangerine, lemon, grapefruit
Marlee Goldman

Do: Eat chicken soup. The warm broth helps clear your congestion and helps reduce swelling in your throat.

Do: Eat citrus fruits. Oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes are just a few common citrus fruits that help get rid of symptoms at the first sign of a cold. Eating an orange or adding lemon and lime juice to your water can give your body the vitamin C it needs to boost your immunity. 

Do: Eat kale, broccoli, cranberries, and blueberries. They all contain an antioxidant called quercetin that helps fight off the cold virus. 

Don't: Load up on dairy. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other dairy products have been known to contribute to your congestion. But, according to WebMD, there isn't enough evidence to prove whether this is true or not. If you're feeling like that pint of Ben & Jerry's is going to make your throat feel better, WebMD gives you the "OK."

Don't: Drink lots of caffeine. Coffee and caffeinated sodas only dehydrate you, which makes it a lot harder to get rid of that congestion. 

Strep Throat

ice, water, popsicle
Emma Kanchanawat

Do: Eat soft proteins. Protein gives you energy and strength to get better. You might not want to eat a steak dinner with strep, but you're still going to want to incorporate it into your diet. Scrambled eggs, yogurt, chicken soup, and mac and cheese are all great sources of protein that won't hurt your throat. 

Do: Eat soft veggies and starches. Mashed sweet potatoes, smashed cauliflower (check out this Rachel Ray recipe!), and cooked spinach are recipes that will give you nutrients without the crunchiness of veggies. 

Don't: Eat chips, pretzels, pretzels, fried foods, or "dry" snacks. These foods are not only lacking in nutritional value, but they can also irritate your already swollen tonsils when you swallow. Ouch!

Don't: Consume citrusy, acidic foods. The acid in citrus fruits can irritate and even cause a burning sensation in your sore throat.

Don't: Eat spicy foods. Time to put aside those Flamin' Hot Cheetos (sorry, spicy food lovers). Spice can also irritate an already-sore throat. 


garlic, onion, vegetable
Kai Huang

Do: Eat garlic. According to Earth Clinic, garlic can help fight infections (like Mono!) and boost your immune system. If you're into cooking, check out these recipes that use garlic! Not a garlic fan? You can buy a garlic supplement at your local drug store. 

Do: Use or eat coconut oil. Coconut oil is a strong anti-viral food. You can use it as a substitute for butter in your cooking or you can mix it into your yogurt. Yum!

Do: Consume oregano. According to, oregano is proven to help stop the growth of viruses. This herb adds flavor to meat, fish, pasta dishes, soups, and lots more! To get these awesome benefits, you can add oregano or oil of oregano to your cooking. And, like most things that are good for you, oregano comes in supplement form. 

Don't: Eat refined sugars or refined carbs. Sugar is notorious for being an inflammatory food, so it's best to avoid it until your mono symptoms are gone. You don't want your already inflamed throat and lymph nodes getting worse! Carbs are an important source of energy, but try to eat healthy carbs until you feel better. If you're wondering where to get your healthy serving of carbs, click here for ideas!

Don't: Drink alcohol. Period. According to Summit Medical Group, alcohol not only weakens your immune system and prolongs the time that you're sick, but it can also cause permanent damage to your liver.

The Flu

cream, broth, tea, sweet, pumpkin, soup
Alixandra Rutnik

Do: Eat soup. It's easy to digest and gives your body nutrients that you need to build your strength back. Looking for recipes? Here are 17 healthy soup recipes for you to try! 

Do: Eat ginger. Ginger ale, ginger snaps, ginger tea, or grated ginger root all help to reduce nausea and any stomach aches you might be experiencing, according to WebMD.

Do: Drink electrolyte-enhanced beverages. Gatorade, Powerade, and coconut water hydrate you quicker than water. They also give your body potassium and sodium, which can help regulate your body's chemical imbalance when you're sick.  

Don't: Eat meat. Amy Rost, author of "Natural Healing Wisdom & Know How: Useful Practices, Recipes, and Formulas for a Lifetime of Health," says that animal fats make it difficult for your body to get rid of flu-causing germs. Sorry, meat-lovers. 

Don't: Eat lots of dairy. It's the same as when you have a cold. According to, dairy only contributes to congestion, which can make the virus linger in your body for longer. No, thank you! 

Don't: Eat sugary foods. also indicates that sugar weakens your immune system and works against virus-fighting bacteria. 

We've all been told that rest, fluids, and healthy eating are ways to help your body heal, but not many people know the importance of incorporating certain foods into your diet and cutting out certain foods. No matter what you're sick with, giving your body proper nutrition can boost your immune system and shorten the length of time that you're sick. Following these guidelines will have you back on your feet in no time.