Home is where the plague is

My cycle of getting sick each year can be described exactly like K-Fed’s musical career: predictable, irritating
and full of crap.

It seems that the day after I set foot back in central New Jersey every winter break, my lungs and sinuses begin to protest because I’ve left scenic North Philadelphia behind. My essential organs go on strike and then I spend the first week of break with a man-voice and an unstoppable bark.

Instead of letting loose a string of snarky remarks while waiting in the doctor’s office, I go food shopping. Without a cure for those dozens of colds and viruses contractedin a lifetime, it makes the most sense to suck it up (or sniff it back in) and find things that will give you a temporary fix. Cough drops help, but who wants to restrict their diet to menthol?
A few foods and drinks actually can add to your suffering if you’re not careful. Dairy products coat your throat, which is probably not a good thing if yours is already filled with green phlegm.

Heavy meals with meat and carbohydrates take a lot more effort and energy to digest than fruits and vegetables. Your body will spend its last bits of energy working high calorie foods through your intestines instead of fighting off the virus.

If you have big party plans, leave out the alcohol – that little guy will draw out all the fluids you hopefully have been pouring down your throat. Not that there’s ever a good time to start smoking, but this probably would be the worst. If you can’t breathe due to congestion, logic dictates that puffing on some rat poison certainly won’t help.

To work on those jam-packed nasal packages, the more spicy and powerful the food is the better. Adding ginger, chili powder or peppers, turmeric, horseradish or wasabi if you’re brave will help clear out your nose and throat.

The big debate for years has been about chicken soup. An article published by the Mayo Clinic said, “It acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils – immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response.”

The article also advocates plenty of liquid-intake. Who knew after all those caregivers crated steamy bowls of Campbell’s up the stairs that one day they’d get credit?

Another evil temptation when you’re down and out with a cold is to retreat to the couch and eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, cookies and other sugar-laced comfort foods.

I eat to match my mood: gross. Athletes know that sugar gives you that burst of energy, then – BAM – you have crashed into a wall and lack the strength to even reach for a Kleenex. At this point in your grumbling nose-faucet frustration, you need all the energy you can muster to just stay awake during Jerry Springer.

At the core of being sick is a simple truth – it’s going to make you want to pull your hair out, but it will go away eventually.
I’m looking forward to my week on the couch, starting after I go home around Dec. 14. Stupid fresh air – where’s my smog?
Hope your winter break is safe and filled with fabulous people and food.

Brianna Barry can be reached at bbarry@temple.edu.


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