Surviving the ‘Flu in Recovery

by Kay Shepard, LMHC

How do you get through a bout of the ‘flu and stay abstinent? ‘Flu certainly presents a threat to recovery on several fronts. The first thing to keep in mind is that the ‘flu will end in a week or so but food addiction is a chronic disease that will never go away. Focusing on how to care for yourself when you’re ill but forgeting the discipline required to recover from food addiction can surely put recovery in jeopardy.

In recovery we let go of our old ideas. Those old remedies for colds and ‘flu won’t be suitable in our recovery program. Obviously we can’t “feed a cold and starve a fever.” In fact, even when we feel ill, we go on weighing, measuring and eating our three meals and metabolic on a daily basis. The temptation may be to restrict food intake during illness. It goes something like this: “I am feeling sick and don’t feel like eating. Good, I will lose some weight.” That isn’t the way it works. The outcome of restricting food intake is the same whether one is dieting or not eating due to appetite suppression from the ‘flu — food restriction will set up the next binge!

What should you do if you have nausea and vomiting? To the absolute best of your ability, keep weighing and measuring your food and sticking to your food plan. Select foods that are the most appetizing — don’t restrict yourself to soda crackers or ginger ale, but rather, select the most appealing foods that will go down easily. Make your own chicken soup or put your breakfast or metabolic in the blender to make a “smoothie.”

Too sick to fix meals? I hope you have someone to wait on you. In the past 21 years, I have had a run-in or two with the ‘flu. I missed a metabolic one time because I was too sick to wake up and eat it. Other than that, I have usually been able to crawl out of bed (or off the sofa) to prepare meals.

Be sure to continue drinking fluids. It is important to hydrate the body when we are well but it is crucial to avoid dehydration during illness. Our bodies require water, which is a superior hydrating liquid.

When visiting the doctor, be sure to discuss your addiction. Request sugar-free and alcohol-free medications. Double check with the pharmacist, too, to verify that medications are safe. Avoid over-the-counter remedies unless you have good information about them. Some medications list only “active ingredients” and sugar may be an “inactive ingredient” not listed on the label. There are no safe cough drops, which are really candy in disguise. You might have good luck with teas from the health food store. These are concoctions of herbs which are designed for various conditions, such as “Cold Season Tea.” Teas may be comforting when you are ill and supply necessary fluids, too. You might like to make a study of other herbal remedies offered at the health food store.

Missing meetings? Use the telephone to gain support, and don’t forget the healing attributes of prayer and meditation.

Get well soon!