What to Eat Before and After

Getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 — which causes COVID-19 — is a very effective way to protect against serious illness, hospitalization, and death (1).

Though the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and recommended for everyone 5 years and older, some people may experience mild side effects, which typically subside within a few days (1, 2).

Whether you’re getting your first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or receiving a booster shot, making a few simple changes to your diet after getting vaccinated can be a great way to help alleviate certain side effects and enhance your immunity.

Here are a few tips for what you should eat after getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

Staying well-hydrated before and after you get your vaccine for COVID-19 is essential.

That’s because dehydration can worsen side effects like syncope — loss of consciousness — which sometimes occurs after the vaccine, especially if you feel anxious around needles (3, 4, 5, 6).

Dehydration may also contribute to headaches, which is another common issue that many people experience after getting vaccinated (5, 7).

Ideally, carry a bottle of water with you to your appointment and drink plenty of water throughout the day once you get home.

Tea, coconut water, or electrolyte-infused beverages like Pedialyte can also help you meet your hydration needs after getting your vaccine.

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Dehydration may worsen several side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, including headaches or fainting. Water, tea, coconut water, and electrolyte-infused beverages can help prevent dehydration.

Though there is limited research on how your diet may impact the side effects or effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, certain foods may be beneficial.

In particular, anti-inflammatory foods have been shown to fight inflammation, which may help boost immune function (8, 9).

Anti-inflammatory diets may also be beneficial for preventing headaches and fatigue, which are side effects that some people experience after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine (10, 11).

What’s more, some research suggests that anti-inflammatory foods could protect against and lessen the effects of COVID-19, along with other types of infections (12, 13, 14).

A well-rounded, anti-inflammatory diet should consist of mostly whole, unprocessed foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish (15).

For a comprehensive guide to getting started on the anti-inflammatory diet, along with which foods you should eat and avoid, check out this article.

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Anti-inflammatory foods may support immune function and reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory diets may help prevent certain side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, like headaches and fatigue.

Research suggests that excessive alcohol intake can negatively affect immune function and may even increase your susceptibility to infections, including pneumonia (16).

Furthermore, drinking large amounts of alcohol could also worsen several side effects associated with the vaccine for some people, including headaches, nausea, and fatigue (17, 18, 1920).

Additionally, alcohol suppresses the release of vasopressin, a hormone that increases urination and fluid loss, which may lead to dehydration (19twenty one, twenty two).

Learn more about links between alcohol and dehydration here.

Still, there is currently no research evaluating whether alcohol consumption affects the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine or worsens any side effects related to it.

Regardless, it may be best to moderate your intake of alcohol and avoid heavy drinking for a few days after getting your vaccine.

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Excessive alcohol intake could negatively affect immunity and may worsen certain side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Though more research is needed, it may be best to moderate your intake of alcohol and avoid heavy drinking.

While there’s no research to suggest that getting vaccinated on an empty stomach is harmful, it’s generally a good idea to have a nutritious meal or snack before your appointment.

Eating beforehand can help prevent low blood sugar levels, which can cause a slew of negative side effects, such as headaches and fatigue (twenty three, twenty four).

Keeping your blood sugar levels stable may also help prevent dizziness, fainting, or loss of consciousness, especially if you feel anxious or are afraid of shots or needles (twenty three, twenty four).

Ideally, opt for a meal or snack that’s high in fiber and protein to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, such as fresh fruit with peanut butter, veggies and hummus, or Greek yogurt with chia seeds (25).

These snacks are great options that can provide a quick boost of energy after getting your vaccine or booster shot as well.

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Eating a healthy meal or snack before getting vaccinated can keep blood sugar levels stable. Ideally, choose foods high in protein and fiber, both before and after getting your shot.

Nausea is a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, one study found that approximately 16% of healthcare workers who received Pfizer’s vaccine reported experiencing nausea (5).

Fortunately, there are many foods that you can eat that can ease nausea after receiving the vaccine.

For example, ginger can alleviate and vomiting caused by pregnancy, chemotherapy, and motion sickness (26, 27, 28).

Some also recommend eating dry, plain foods like crackers or toast to help reduce nausea effectively (29).

Smelling certain foods — such as lemon and peppermint — has been shown to ease nausea in several studies as well and may be worth a try (30, 31, 32, 33).

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If you experience nausea after getting your vaccine, there are several foods that may help ease symptoms, such as ginger, crackers, and toast. The smell of peppermint or lemon may also be beneficial.

There are a variety of foods you can eat to increase immune function and ease certain side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, such as nausea or headaches.

In particular, staying hydrated, eating a balanced and nutritious meal or snack before getting your vaccine, and filling up on anti-inflammatory foods may help.

In addition to the tips outlined above, you can also talk with a healthcare professional about using over-the-counter pain medications to relieve temporary side effects, including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or antihistamines (2).

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