how to recover from food poisoning the Paleo-ish way (feat. 3 Chinese-inspired recipes)
let me tell you a story. I was having the most "Nancy" dinner ever on my last night in Boston - salad, avo, salmon, booch - all from the Whole Foods salad bar. all was good and dandy until the next morning, when I was feeling a little queasy.
I was able to ignore it until halfway through my flight home; I got progressively worse as I finally made it home, into the shower, and into bed. helloooo food poisoning (or stomach flu?). either way, it wasn't pretty at all.
for anyone who's ever gotten either before, you know that you can't eat anything that's very fibrous or high in fat. (i.e. you can't eat any of my staples: kale, avocado, nuts, fresh fruit...)
PS if you just want the recipes, scroll down to the second header!
what you're supposed to do is follow the "BRAT" diet - bananas, (white) rice, applesauce, and toast - and let me tell you, that's more like a B*TCH. sorry, just had to.
also, for anyone who's hardcore Paleo, you can't have rice or toast. so, that leaves just bananas and apples? even if you add in white rice, that leaves you 3 things to eat. for someone who loves bananas and apples, I wasn't down for that.
the reasoning behind it, though, is that these foods are low in fiber, bland, can replenish your electrolytes (which are commonly lost through vomiting/diarrhea/sweating if you have a fever), and contain pectin, which combats diarrhea.
what you can eat
- plantains and bananas
- squash (kabocha, spaghetti, acorn, etc.)
- sweet potatoes and potatoes
- white rice
- eggs (cooked without oil)
- baked chicken breast (once your stomach settles a bit)
- steamed fish (also once your stomach settles a bit. look for lower fat fish)
- coconut water
- soup and bone broth
- herbal tea
P.S. as much as it sounds tempting, do NOT eat Paleo or gluten free breads. they're usually pretty high in fiber and can irritate your stomach more. also, stay away from raw fruits and veggies. I learned this the hard way. general rule of thumb: drink lots of fluids, eat non-processed food, and don't eat anything too flavorful (sorry).
sweet potato rice porridge
this is my version of xi fan, or congee, the Chinese rice soup that's traditionally savory and eaten for breakfast with a variety of pickled veggies. my parents always told me to eat it when I have stomach troubles as it's very light and easy on the stomach; rice is also part of the BRAT diet.
this was inspired by all the sweet oatmeal I used to eat before going Paleo, as well as the oatmeal my roommate would always make in the morning and the gorgeous bowls on Insta. this succeeded in not hurting my stomach, and was also really filling. if you're having stomach troubles or just want to carb up, definitely try this!
- 1 medium sweet potato, steamed, mashed, and skins removed
- 1 medium banana
- 1/3-1/2 cup rice (1/2 cup makes a little more than 1 large bowl; 1/3 cup will make about 1 bowl)
- 3 tbsp sugar-free applesauce (another thing that's in the BRAT diet. try making your own!)
- 1 organic, cage-free egg
- water, enough to cover double the amount of rice
- some sort of liquid (I've used ginger tea for extra stomach healing, nondairy milk to make it creamier, or just more water)
- cinnamon, to taste
- sea salt, to taste
- vanilla extract, optional
- goji berries, soaked, optional
- rinse rice. place in medium pot and cover with double the amount of water than there is rice. cook covered on medium heat until it comes to a boil, then lower to low heat.
- let cook for about 5 more minutes, then add the sweet potato, banana, and applesauce. if necessary, add some more liquid. cook covered for about 5 minutes.
- crack the egg in and stir throughly. you can also use 2 egg whites if you want to avoid eating yolks.
- continue stirring and adding some more liquid for another 2 minutes.
- remove from heat and serve! I like mine to be kind of soupy, so I added more nondairy milk after the pic.
healing sea cucumber soup
sea cucumber whaaaat? if you can get your hands on this ingredient (my dad bought it at an Asian supermarket), definitely add this to the mix - it has anti-inflammatory benefits and has been used by the Chinese for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. if not, it's totally fine without it.
the bone broth is healing and provides nourishment, as well as some much-needed protein. it helps heal your gut, which is being very much taxed right now. if you have collagen, I recommend adding it for extra protein and to help heal your gut as well.
- 30 oz bone broth (I love Bonafide Provisions - I've found this in my local Whole Foods' freezer section - or you can make your own)
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 5 large shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1 sea cucumber, chopped
- sea salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 poached egg, optional
- 1 scoop collagen, optional (you can buy it here on Further Food's website - that's what I use - and save 10% with the code PALEO10)
- heat bone broth on the stove on medium heat until brought to a boil, then lower to low heat.
- add veggies, mushrooms, and sea cucumber in.
- continue cooking until everything is soft.
- if necessary, add more water to the soup to thin it.
chinese scrambled eggs with tomato
super simple, super fast, and super comforting - this is the meal of my childhood. this is a protein-packed meal that's perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. try eating it with steamed veggies if your stomach is feeling stronger, or white rice if your stomach's still kind of meh. if you're on the mend, try some pickled veggies (like sauerkraut) for an extra probiotic boost!
- 2 organic, cage-free eggs, beat together in a bowl and seasoned with salt
- 2 organic hothouse tomatoes, chopped
- sea salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- coconut aminos, to taste
- in a non-stick pan, cook the tomatoes on low heat until soft. add salt and pepper, stir, and put in a separate plate.
- in the same pan, heat the pan until hot (if not using a non-stick pan, add some oil the eggs don't stick). lower the heat to medium, pour in the eggs, and fold with a spatula.
- when eggs are 3/4 cooked, pour in the tomatoes.
- stir together for about 30 seconds.
- remove from heat and enjoy! add salt and pepper to taste. you can eat this with white rice, which is how it's commonly eaten in China, as it's a little soupy from the tomatoes.
( a version of this recipe was originally published on Spoon University )
bonus: Chinese traditional herbal tea
my mom made me literal jugs of this tea. known in Chinese as ma chi xian, or purslane in English, it's a natural antibiotic that also helps with preventing diarrhea, amongst other things.
I'll be doing a post on traditional Chinese medicinal herbs coming up - so if you're interested, stay tuned!
what I learned and why I'm still healing
I believe that our bodies tell us when it's time to S T O P and rest. and when we don't listen, our bodies F O R C E us to stop and rest. basically, this could not have come at a more opportune time (though I would have preferred it not come at all).
the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of trying to finish final projects and finals, graduate magna cum laude, stay on top of my influencer projects, personal projects, brand ambassador-ships, and job as a trainer, train for my marathon, find an apartment and move in, and find a post-grad job. I wasn't sleeping enough or resting enough, especially after my long runs. I was constantly feeling sore and exhausted, and it got to the point where no caffeine would do the trick. only more exercise would boost my energy, and while that high lasted for a bit, the next day it would start all over again.
so I came home, and slept 12 hours the first night. and then the next. and then the next. I was going to sleep at 6pm and waking up at 6am, often with 1-2 hour naps during the day as well. I have never slept so much in my life.
and I have never laid around so much in my life. all the mental or physical energy that I had the first two days was gone. I committed myself to rest, and rest I did. after almost passing out during C2 (hot vinyasa-style yoga at CorePower) my third day of food poisoning, I took it easy the next day with C1.5. I even felt well enough at the end to practice some headstands.
on healthy guts
during my couple days of food poisoning, I actually didn't eat very much (no surprise). in other words, it became an easier way of intermittent fasting. I just wasn't hungry, and realized I felt less bloated / better altogether when I just went to sleep instead.
not suggesting that you do this on the reg, but the science behind it: less food = less for your body to digest. this is why soups are the best if you're very sick - since they're liquid, your body has to do minimal work, while still getting necessary nutrients.
also, after speaking to Charity, the dietician for probiotic brand SilverFern, I learned that intermittent fasting actually helps heal your gut as well because it helps with human growth hormone; gut bacteria grows best when you're in a fasted state. just some food for thought (ha).
so, how am I healing? by limiting my intake of carbs again (I'm going to cycle them in again the week before my marathon), eliminating as much sugar as possible, taking probiotics regularly, hydrating frequently, eating gut-healthy foods (sauerkraut, nondairy yogurt, other fermented foods), sleeping more, and stressing less. a hefty list, but one that I'm going to try to stick to.
if you've made it this far - whew - what a lengthy post! hope you all found it helpful or at least entertaining. tell me, what are your go-to's when sick?