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Diet for a Sore Throat

Having a sore throat is no fun. The scratchiness or pain at the back of the throat can make it difficult to swallow and suck all the energy out of your day. Sore throats are typically caused by cold and flu viruses and usually don’t require medical treatment. A soothing diet for a sore throat, however, could be just what the doctor ordered.


The Mayo Clinic describes a sore throat as pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow. It may be accompanied by hoarseness, sore glands in the neck and a mild fever, according to Richard A. Rosenberg, M.D., an ear, nose and throat doctor in White Plains, New York. The best medicine for a sore throat is rest, fluids and comforting foods. A diet for a sore throat should include foods that soothe and help heal the throat — and exclude foods that irritate the throat or are hard to swallow.

Foods to Include

Honey has a reputation as a sore-throat soother. Its sweet, smooth-as-silk quality feels good going down the throat. Honey may also have antimicrobial properties that help heal a sore throat. Rosenberg recommends sipping lemon water or tea mixed with a spoonful of honey. A sore throat diet should also include other foods that are soft and easy to swallow, such as small pieces of banana, applesauce, yogurt, puddings, gelatin and custards, cooked cereals, soups and broths. Frozen pops can also soothe the soreness, keep you hydrated and cool down a fever.

Foods to Avoid

A sore throat diet should exclude foods that are hard, crunchy or otherwise irritating to the throat. Foods to avoid when you have a sore throat include toast, crackers, cookies, dry cereals, nuts, raw vegetables, fried or baked foods — like fried chicken or chicken nuggets — and spicy foods, such as curry. Rosenberg recommends steering clear of oranges, grapefruits and tomatoes and juices made from these fruit because acidic foods can be irritating to a sore throat. Avoid junk food and sugary sodas because they may lower immunity, according to registered dietitian Beth Reardon, director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine.

The Scoop on Chicken Soup

For generations, chicken soup has been regarded as a remedy for sore throats and other cold and flu symptoms. When Nebraska Medical Center researchers put chicken soup to the test, they discovered it may relieve cold and flu symptoms, such as a sore throat, in two ways. The ingredients in chicken soup have a mild anti-inflammation effect and the steam from a bowl of chicken soup helps relieve congestion and limit the amount of time viruses are in contact with mucus membranes. Plus, chicken soup might contain nutrient-rich carrots, onions, celery, turnips, sweet potatoes and garlic, all of which may have healing powers, Reardon notes.


Even soothing foods can be irritating to a sore, swollen throat if served too hot. Allow steaming foods to cool a bit before tasting to avoid doing more harm than good to your sore, swollen throat. If the sore throat diet doesn’t help ease your discomfort within a week or if your condition worsens, see your doctor. Occasionally, a sore throat may mean you have a more serious condition.