What to eat when you have a sore throat

What to eat when you have a sore throat

What to eat when you have a sore throat

Usually caused by viruses such as colds or the flu, a sore throat can make it painful to eat and drink. There are a number of things you can do, however, to help ease this discomfort[1]. For example, you may want to try a fast-acting anaesthetic throat spray that you can apply directly to the site of pain. There are versions available for adults as well as a blackcurrant throat spray for children, all designed to produce a numbing, soothing effect.

There might also be certain foods and drinks that help to reduce the pain. If you’re wondering what to add to your grocery basket next time you have a sore throat, keep reading.  

What to eat with a sore throat

Even though swallowing may be difficult when you have a sore throat, your body still needs nutrition. This means it’s important to try to eat healthy meals. To minimise any discomfort, choose dishes that are soft, soothing and easy to swallow while also being nutritious. Examples can include anything from soups (such as chicken or vegetable), to soft fruits like bananas, to well-cooked vegetables. Scrambled eggs can be another good option as they are easy to swallow and are packed full of protein. Also, yoghurts and smoothies can offer an effective way to get a boost of vitamins without causing further irritation to your throat. 

Temperature is an important factor when you’re thinking about foods too. It’s best to avoid very hot dishes as this could result in further discomfort. In contrast, ice cubes and ice lollies can be soothing[2].

Does honey help a sore throat?

Many people reach for honey when they have a sore throat, often adding it to warm drinks. But is this natural sweetener really of any benefit? Well, according to guidelines provided by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE), it may well be[3]. In 2018, the organisations updated their guidelines on the best ways to treat acute short-term coughs caused by upper respiratory tract infections and suggested that honey and over-the-counter medicines should be the first line of treatment for most people – before antibiotics. According to NICE and PHE, there is some limited evidence that honey can help to improve symptoms.

However, be aware that honey shouldn’t be given to babies under the age of 12 months because there is a risk that it will contain bacteria that can lead to infant botulism. A variety of over-the-counter cough medicines contain honey, or you can simply mix it into a warm drink yourself at home.

Does ice cream help a sore throat?

The thought of a bowl or cone of sweet, cold, soft ice cream might seem like the perfect food to have when you’re suffering from a sore throat – and there is some science to back this up. Speaking to Medical News Today, bio-scientist Professor Ron Eccles, an expert in human diseases of the upper airways, highlighted the benefits of cold foods[4]. He noted that by lowering the temperature of the nerve endings in the throat, they reduce pain signals. The same principle applies to other cold foods, such as ice lollies. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to ice cream or sugary lollies though, you could opt for a frozen yoghurt or frozen fruit lollies.

Are marshmallows good for a sore throat?

Long before modern-day marshmallows made an appearance, people had been using marshmallow root as a herbal medicine to help treat a range of health issues. Also known as Althea officinalis, it grows in various places around the world, including parts of Asia and Europe. This perennial herb can be consumed in a variety of forms, including capsules and teas, and it’s included in certain cough syrups. The medicinal properties of the root are said to come from the sap-like substance, or mucilage, that it produces. However, researchers have not yet thoroughly investigated the potential medicinal benefits it may have in humans.  

At one time, Althea officinalis was included as an ingredient in marshmallows, but this is no longer the case. Modern marshmallows contain mainly sugar, water and gelatine, none of which are proven to help sore throats. That said, the gelatine in these sweets might coat and soothe the throat, providing some temporary relief.

What drink helps a sore throat?

It’s important to stay hydrated if you have a sore throat caused by an infection, particularly if you have a fever[1]. So, make sure you drink plenty of water or other hydrating fluids. It’s recommended that you drink at least six to eight glasses of fluid (preferably water) each day. You might also want to try drinking pomegranate juice. Research has suggested that nutrients within this drink may help to reduce inflammation and tackle infection[5].

As mentioned earlier, it’s advisable to avoid very hot drinks if you have a sore throat, but warm drinks may be beneficial. According to Professor Eccles, drinks in general are good because they stimulate salivation and help to lubricate the throat, but warm drinks promote increased salivation compared to cool beverages[4].

Knowing which foods and drinks to choose if you have a sore throat can ease the discomfort. In most cases, sore throats get better by themselves within around a week. However, if yours is severe or persistent, or you also have a fever, nausea or a headache, it’s advisable to consult your doctor or a pharmacist.


[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sore-throat/

[2] https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/ears-nose-and-throat/sore-throat/

[3] https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/antibiotics-should-not-be-issued-as-first-line-of-treatment-for-a-cough-says-nice-and-phe

[4] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319896#Cold-stops-the-pain

[5] Vučić, Vesna et al. “Composition and Potential Health Benefits of Pomegranate: A Review.” Current pharmaceutical design vol. 25,16 (2019): 1817-1827. doi:10.2174/1381612825666190708183941 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31298147/