You may have heard that the big three COVID vaccines—Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna—might make you feel lousy for a few days, and as someone who’s already had a dose jabbed into her arm, I can confirm it’s true. Honestly, I had never been so happy to feel like crap, because that was a sign my immune system was doing the sort of quality work I expect from it, building fierce antibodies that are ready, willing, and able to kick ass if need be. For my second shot next week, I’m going to take the advice of Dr. Ronald Hoffman, an integrative physician who spoke to the Huffington Post about the best things to eat and drink to make those side effects a bit easier to bear.
For nausea, Dr. Hoffman recommends ginger, which 110% works. I always have a bag of candied ginger in my desk as I frequently get nauseous from my allergies and excessive coffee consumption, and a single piece soothes my stomach in less than a minute. If you don’t like the sugary taste, pickled ginger works equally well, as does brewing a tea made from hot water and freshly grated ginger.
Another must-do: keep yourself properly hydrated, which seems to be the cure for everything, doesn’t it? You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to remember to drink enough water every day, but with my stomach so full of coffee, it can be hard to find room for it. If boring old tap water doesn’t do it for you, Dr. Hoffman says flavored sparkling water and seltzers will do just fine.
As for food, Dr. Hoffman recommends following a Mediterranean diet, which is something doctors tell us all the time anyway. Dr. Hoffman praises the diet’s anti-inflammatory effects in helping ease vaccine discomfort, but admits that you need to follow this diet for several weeks before those benefits kick in, so if you only switch to it right before your vaccine appointment, things might suck for a few days after you get jabbed. To help ease the pain, Hoffman recommends following a low glycemic index diet for a few days after getting the vaccine, as low glucose levels help protect the body from inflammation. Foods that fit this diet are green vegetables, beans, whole grains and multigrain breads, fruits, nuts... so pretty much the Mediterranean diet. It cannot be escaped.
If you’re thinking about buying into a “get healthy quick” scheme, like a juice cleanse or detox diet, Hoffman advises against it, and stresses that it’s imperative for the body to get enough protein as it recuperates.
“The development of immunity depends on the body ‘reading’ instructions from the vaccine and synthesizing antibodies and white blood cells, which requires adequate protein in the diet,” Hoffman said.
A great great way to get the protein you need while also soothing your body: chicken soup! Or any soup that contains fresh vegetables and nourishing stock, which will keep you nourished and hydrated while also being gentle on your digestive system. It’s a lot tastier tastier than a bottle of DayQuil. Chicken soup feeds the body and the soul, and we all need help we can get with both of those things right about now. (Seriously, I need to get the hell out of this house.)