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What to Eat Before and After Your COVID-19 Vaccine

Woman receiving vaccine

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Now that every person in the U.S. 16 and over is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you may be gearing up for your first or second appointment. You've likely heard of the vaccines' potential side effects, especially after the second shot of a two-dose regimen.

Even though there are no sure-fire ways to prevent feeling tired or nauseated post-injection, there are some dietary tips you can follow that may help you feel a bit better during the process.

Here are five steps you can take before and after your vaccine appointment to help prepare your body and keep you feeling your best.

Do Not Get Your Vaccine on an Empty Stomach

Having something nutritious in your system pre-injection can help the entire process feel a bit more bearable. While eating before your appointment does not appear to have any effect on the vaccine’s effectiveness, it could help prevent you from fainting or feeling dizzy—especially if you don’t typically do well with needles. 

Considering people are required to wait at least 10 to 15 minutes post-vaccine to monitor for any potential allergic reactions to the injection, eating something beforehand can help you feel your best during the entire process. Most facilities won't allow you to eat snacks in the waiting area. 

Choose food combinations that include unrefined carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein to give your meal some staying power. Something as little as a piece of fruit with nut butter can be a perfect pick-me-up before your appointment.  

Stay Hydrated

Headaches are a common side-effect of the vaccine, and being dehydrated can exacerbate that pain.

Stay ahead of the sour feeling by drinking lots of fluids. Stick with water, 100% fruit juice, teas, or other options that aren’t too sugary. Keeping a water bottle by your side throughout the day can help stay on top of your hydration the day of your appointment.

Skip the Alcohol

Drinking alcohol before you get the vaccine is not advised. And although having a cocktail or two after your shot does not appear to make your shot less effective, overdoing it can make you feel physically worse.

Compound that with the side effects many experience after getting vaccinated—lethargy, headache—and it makes the perfect recipe for not feeling great. It might also make it difficult to distinguish what is a side effect of the vaccine from what is a side effect of too much alcohol.

Plus, alcohol can cause an inflammatory response in the body, which you should try to steer clear from when trying to support your overall health and immune system.

Focus on Anti-Inflammatory Foods

After you get your vaccine, you want to support your immune system. Focusing on anti-inflammatory foods that are not heavily processed or refined may help your body stay healthy. 

In a 2020 article published in the British Journal of Nutrition, results show that eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce the risk of COVID-19. And since the ultimate goal is to keep your body COVID-free, continuing to follow an anti-inflammatory diet will serve you well. 

Focus on healthy fats and less-processed foods to reap the most benefits from your diet. Avocados, salmon, nuts, and vegetables are all great choices with anti-inflammatory effects. 

Keep Anti-Nausea Items on Hand

While some people will feel just fine after receiving their vaccine, some may feel nauseated afterward. Keeping items that may help combat nausea on hand can be helpful in case it kicks in. 

Some items that can help include:

  • Ginger tea or fresh ginger
  • Soda crackers
  • Chicken broth
  • Lemon wedges (for smelling)

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. Morais AHA, Aquino JS, da Silva-Maia JK, Vale SHL, Maciel BLL, Passos TS. Nutritional status, diet and viral respiratory infections: perspectives for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Br J Nutr. 2021 Apr 28;125(8):851-862. doi:10.1017/S0007114520003311