Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever…

So, it’s the cold season once again and everybody seems to be coughing and sneezing. I’m just recovering from a particularly nasty sore throat/cold and am still battling a cough which is driving me insane. I’m awful at being ill… being used to being full of energy and lucky enough to be in good health means that when I pick up a bug, I get so irritated by it.

Aside from being generally debilitated, unable to exercise and function properly at work, there’s the fact that everyone around you wants to give you a wide berth whilst telling you ‘You should see a Doctor,’ or ‘You shouldn’t be in the office,’ (with a sympathetic but disapproving nod of the head) – not helpful when of course you don’t want to be at work. But the worst part… knowing that you can’t do anything about it but wait for the virus to pass.

When I’m ill (and I use the term loosely!) I have a few childhood traditions that I like to uphold that I thought I would share this afternoon, in the hope that you guys will also share yours. I’m sure there’s something about the nostalgia of being looked after that evokes a feeling of well-being when you’re ensconced on the sofa with a blanket and your favourite film, even if you have to warm your own soup! So even though there’s nothing that actually will make you better, some of these little ideas at least make you feel better. 🙂

  • Egg-in-a-Cup: A definite childhood tradition for me, this involves having a soft boiled egg or two, with the shells removed, then chopped up with a knob of butter in a cup. Served with buttered toast soldiers, I think it’s the closest to heaven you’ll get with a bunged up nose 🙂
  • Hot honey and lemon: I used to have this with cordial in as a child, and still do sometimes. The idea was that the vitamin C in the lemon juice would do some good and the the restorative properties of honey too, but I’m sure the temperatures of the water kills any of that off. Either way, it smells good (if you can smell!) and soothes a sore throat whilst keeping you hydrated.
  • Olbas Oil and Dad’s hankies: My Dad always had a proper handkerchief. A fresh one every day and in an old fashioned way it still warms me when I see men with handkerchiefs – strictly for offering to a damsel in distress you understand, not emptying a nose into all day… that would be unhygienic to say the least! Sprinkled with a few drops of Olbas oil, and kept under your pillow or to hand throughout the day, it’s brilliant at clearing the nose.

Of course, as I’ve got older, I’ve learned a few tricks that are less nostalgia based, and more orientated at getting you through the day, when a duvet day is simply not an option…

  • Stock up on Cold and flu remedies… Don’t ever waste your money on Beechams or Night Nurse – buy supermarkets or Boots own brand cold and flu relief – they have exactly the same ingredients (including a bit of caffeine in the day tablets, omitted for the night time ones.) You’d be amazed what a difference it makes to getting through the day – stop ‘soldiering on’ and dose up instead!
  • Cough sweets. There’s absolutely no evidence they work… but I like them, particularly when you have that tickly throat that goes dry and causes a coughing fit – they help to keep it lubricated. The ones that have a menthol ingredient are brilliant for clearing your nose too 🙂
  • Balsam Tissues – again, it doesn’t have to be the brand names, I reckon the supermarkets own are just as good, but if you don’t want to end up looking like Rudolph with a flakey nose, then they are an essential, especially the handbag packets.
  • A good all round moisturiser… something that you can slather on your nose and will double as a lip balm, so when you finally recover, you’re still looking presentable! The gold standard for me is Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, but I’d love to hear your favourites!

So this afternoon, I thought I’d ask you guys what your cold remedies are? Was there something different you always had as a child – or are they the same as mine? And what do you do if you have to have a duvet day? Is there a film you always get out that makes you feel better?

Let’s beat the cold season together!


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22 thoughts on “Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever…

  1. I also used olbas and dad’s hankies! In fact, if I am at my parents and poorly you can guarantee I will be presented with one drenched in the stuff – so much that it literally burns my nose. Nowadays, Twinings lemon and ginger tea soothes a sore throat and clears the sinuses, and a bottle of Covonia downed over 48 hours (NOT RDA!) kicks an annoying cough in the arse 🙂

  2. My Grandma used to grate apples up for me… I don’t know what practical effect it had, but it always made me feel better 🙂

  3. Ah, Rebecca – I’d completely forgotten about how we always used to have dad’s hankies with Olbas Oil on them when we were little. There was something so very comforting about that, especially I guess because it was something of dad’s. 🙂
    Heinz Tomato Soup is always my go-to food when I’m ill – partly because that’s what I would have when I was little. And lots and lots of honey and lemon too.
    I always insist that M “tucks me in” when I’m ill – it’s a bit childish really but it’s a childhood remnant and makes me feel looked after.

  4. In my childhood, my nanny used to make me Heinz tomato soup with Lea and Perrins and some grated cheese (also a great hangover cure I find!) or hot chocolate with marshmallows, for a sore throat

    The chicken soup old wives tale also works a treat I find.

    When I have a cold a thai green curry always manages to “un-bung” me…

    I also couldn’t live without Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, whether I’m ill or perfectly heathly!

  5. Olbas oil on a proper hankie always makes me feel better too! And getting someone who loves you to rub Vix on your chest as well.

    Day Nurse and Night Nurse get me through the worst of my winter colds


  6. Our dad always used to give us orange squash to drink when we were little and poorly. Not sure why…. but it’s the only time I drink it as an adult, when I’m feeling unwell!

    Vix is genius stuff, and always reminds me of being little. I find when I have a bad cold, I crave spicy food – probably for warming and nose-clearing properties!

  7. Hot ribena and a snuggle under a blanket works for me. Also a massive fan of Olbas Oil – I have been known to completely stink out the (large, open plan) office with it – but who doesn’t like menthol?!


  8. Hey,

    Not sure of the make but you get these menthol crystals from the pharmacy and I place some in a bowl with hot water and just leave them in the room I am lying in; they burn my eyes but some how I feel this is helping me!

    I also like Lucozade; dark chocolate gingers; a bed on the couch; a hot water bottle is a must and disney cartoons or Breakfast at Tiffany’s to watch, hmmm I kinda feel I want to get a cold now so I can indulge myself! x

  9. Very timely post as I’m definitely coming down with some kind of bug! I also revert to childhood; hot ribena and Heinz vegetable soup for me! These days also bolstered by some max strength cold and flu pills xx

  10. Lucozade every time for me! The only time my brother and I were allowed it was when we were ill and it still has the same excitement for me now, even though I could buy it for myself any time! I save it for that comforting feeling when ill!

  11. I am particularly bad at being ill – always feel incredibly sorry for myself! And I have a list of things I cant eat now as I associate them with being ill. When I had my tonsils out when I was 23 I had so much soluble aspirin and PJ smoothies that even the thought of them now makes me feel sick!

    However if i’m sick with a cold I always go back to Ribena and hot buttered toast – takes me back to my childhood.

    Rachie xo

  12. What a great post!

    Makes me want to curl up in a duvet covered ball on the couch and feel sorry for myself. However, I can’t really justify it when all I have is hay fever and its 33 degrees outside in upside down land.

    Anyways, my illness routine is very similar to yours Rebecca, ‘egg-beat-up-in-a-cup’ was my favourite. Also Vicks and Olbas Oil. My dad used to bring home Lucozade too. I love watching Christmas films when I’m sick. Elf is my favourite! Since being with Gavin, I have a new much loved routine of back rubs. He also reads to me to make me go to sleep.

    Is it wrong that I’m kinda wishing I had a cold or something? It’s making me a little homesick actually… can I have a duvet day for that?

  13. Drinking lemsip as I type this…
    Whenever I fall ill the first thing I do is drink plenty of warm water/any kinda tea with lots of honey in (ginger/lemon). Then over the next few days, get a big bowl and fill it with freshly boiled water and a few drops of Olbas Oil, lean over the bowl and cover your head with a towel. Really helps to clear up a blocked nose and the steam feels good on your face and neck.
    All this followed by generous amounts of sleep and comfort food of course!

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