My Kid’s Sick — Now What?

Nobody likes for their kids to be sick. It’s horrible. You wish you could be sick instead of them. But life is life and kids are going to get sick.

Two of my kids suffered from a case of the ole fever virus this week. No symptoms other than a stupid high fever.

The conventional wisdom when we’re sick (at least the wisdom that I was taught) is to give kids crackers, chicken noodle soup, popsicles, Gatorade and ice cream. But eating nutrient-less, inflammatory foods when you’re sick is the absolute worst thing a sick person can do.

Foods that are stripped of nutritional value and loaded with processed carbohydrate really only do 2 things…1) they make the sick person say “yummy” and 2) they give a body already dealing with lots of mucus production even more stuff to make mucus out of leading to an enormous large supply of mucus that will get stuck in nasal passages, ears and rip up the backs of throats as it makes it’s way down into the lungs and stomach causing more problems there.

I guess a third thing is that it causes an already inflamed system to become even more inflamed. No bueno.

So what are some good things to feed sick kids? Or sick people for that matter?

Think “nutrient-dense” and “anti-inflammatory”, which rules out crackers and Chef Boyardee and popsicles and Gatorade (aka colored sugar water). Here’s a list of the things my girls ate this week:

  • Tennessee whiskey — jokes, people. C’mon.
  • Buttery White Rice (see recipes tab) — they ate a lot of this, great, clean source of energy which the body needs to fight off a virus
  • frozen berries
  • probiotics (they take these every day, but it’s even more important during sickness)
  • bananas (with cinnamon and honey)
  • honey (for cough suppressant)
  • Nuun tablets (an electrolyte tablet that dissolves in water — much better than Gatorade or Pedialite)
  • carrots
  • olives
  • eggs
  • bone broth (aka homemade soup stock)
  • nuts
  • lots and lots of water


  • crackers
  • Gatorade
  • popsicles
  • ice cream
  • soda — for goodness sakes avoid soda. Sprite is not a remedy for colds and flus. There is no benefit for carbonated sugar water. Somehow that got added to the list of things to consume when your’re sick because some doctor liked the taste of it and was like “oh yea, drink Sprite to make you well!”
  • cereal
  • juice
  • jello
  • chicken noodle soup from a can — really anything from a can
  • candy (all candy even if it’s not called “candy”)

Also keep in mind that kids with fever sometimes aren’t very hungry and that’s OK. Let them be the judge of when they should eat. If they’re eating nutrient-dense foods, they may not have to eat very much.

And as far as using Ibuprofen goes — our philosophy is that a fever is there for a reason and should be allowed to do its job for the most part. We’ll give a dose at night if they are too uncomfortable to sleep, but if they can fall asleep and are peaceful, we monitor them throughout the night but let the fever do what it’s supposed to do — which is fight off whatever is causing the problem.

Is it easier to just give fever reducing meds and go to sleep? Sure. But what’s easier isn’t always the best path.

Of course there are exceptions like if your kid has a fever that reaches 105 or 106. But for just your run of the mill cold or what I call a fever virus — try to leave it alone.

*disclaimer — I’m not a doctor but I have a friend who has a PhD.

Same goes for coughing. If your body is coughing, it’s coughing for a reason. Reaching for a cough suppressant after your very first cough (IN MOST CASES) is just going to extend your calamity. At night for sleep, that’s a different story in my opinion because getting good sleep outweighs the benefits of what the coughing is working towards.

So — kids are going to get sick. When they do, give their little bodies nutrition that can actually help them get better and not stuff that’s just going to prolong their illness or make them worse.


  1. says

    Why Ibuprofen? To reduce the fever or the pain?

    If it’s to reduce fever – which as you note shouldn’t be done in most cases, since a fever is an important function of the body, burning away the badness – then Belladonna is really useful when things get too hot to handle:

    No need to risk using designer drugs:

    “….it appears that ibuprofen has its own set of risks, particularly in children and teens.

    In young children the kidneys are still developing and may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of toxins.

    When researchers looked at the number of instances of acute kidney injury (AKI) at one children’s hospital over an 11-year period they found that of the 1015 patients admitted for acute kidney problems, 27 of these cases (or about 2.7%) were due to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil®) and naproxen (Aleve®).

    About 78% of the patients whose AKI was linked to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs had used the medications for less than 7 days, and 75% had taken the correct dose of the medication.

    Most of the patients with AKI linked to NSAIDs were teens, but it was the children younger than five years old who were more likely to have severe cases that required dialysis. This may be because in younger children the kidneys are still developing and are more susceptible to the adverse effects of toxins. About a third of the patients with acute kidney problems also had evidence of chronic kidney problems, but these were mild rather than severe. ”

    • says

      cool…great info. We only give ibuprofen if it’s at night and they just cannot get any rest…and that’s a pretty rare thing. My wife will love reading this, too. I listened to a This American Life about Ibuprofen recently which really opened my eyes to some other things, too…

  2. Stephanie says

    I thought that rice was supposed to be avoided according to Paleo. Don’t grains cause inflammation? Also white rice is processed. Is the Paleo community now saying that it is ok to have rice as part of a Paleo lifestyle and is not detrimental to health?

    • says

      from what I understand about rice via Paul Jaminet and others…white rice has been stripped of the stuff that causes the autoimmune response and is left with basically pure glucose. So for growing kids or sick kids who need access to quick energy…I believe that white rice is OK. We cook it with butter and sea salt and bone broth so it also becomes a vehicle for some other really healthy micronutrients. I also do white rice on days that I lift really heavy…it’s a great way to replenish some of the glycogen lost during a hard workout and doesn’t contain gluten or any other proteins that aren’t digestible by the body.

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