While it's certainly not life-threatening or anything, I don't know if there is anything more irritating—and sometimes inconvenient—than catching a cold. Yet, try as we might, there's a chance that we'll all come down with one before the year is out. Why is that? The long short of it is, a cold is a virus; one that comes in approximately 200 different varieties. By the way, contrary to what grandma might've said, no, you can't get one from going outside while your head is wet. You actually catch a cold from someone who already has one, either by being in direct contact with them or from touching a surface that they have.
As you probably already know, there isn't a cure for a cold. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the healing process. Staying hydrated will loosen up the congestion. Resting will build up your immune system. Turning on a humidifier will help to remove allergens out of the air. Oh, and there is some truth to feeding a cold as well. Drinking citrus juices will provide you with antioxidants and electrolytes that you might have lost. Also, if you enjoy comfort foods when you're sick (speaking of, have you ever checked out YouTube's Stove Top Kisses before? The host is hil-ar-ious and the recipes are the complete and total bomb!), just make sure that they are high in beta-carotene (like carrots and collards), Vitamin C (like papayas and peppers), Vitamin E (like tangerines and tomatoes) and bioflavonoids like lemons and limes—all of which can be depleted when you're feeling under the weather.
There's one more thing too. Make sure to avoid the following eight foods at all costs. Not just because they can "empower your cold", but because there is solid evidence that they each play a role in making cold viruses last longer than they should (which should be no more than 10 days; if your cold is lingering longer, make an appointment to see your physician as soon as possible). Are you ready to read about what you should keep off of your plate until your cold subsides?
What Not To Eat When You Have A Cold
Dairy is milk. Dairy is cheese. Dairy is cream, butter, yogurt and anything else that is produced from a mammal's milk. If you're anything like me and you thoroughly enjoy most, if not all, of the things on this list, I can totally see why you might struggle with giving dairy up (or, at the very least, consuming these foods less than you currently do). But here's the thing to also keep in mind about it—because our bodies aren't really designed to consume another mammal's milk, if we eat (or drink) a lot of it, it can cause all sorts of health issues. For one thing, dairy is a huge source of saturated fat which can ultimately lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There are even studies that point to the fact that dairy can up your risk for getting lung, breast and ovarian cancer. Also, if clear skin is your goal, less dairy is best. Why? Well, two proteins found in milk are whey and casein. Whenever we take them into our system, they have a tendency to trigger the production of a hormone called IGF-1; that can lead to breakouts.
As far as consuming dairy when you're sick goes, while you might've heard that it can produce more mucus, the actual scientific data suggests that the more accurate problem is dairy can lead to more coughing, if anything. Plus, it can make the mucus that you already have thicker; that can result in allergens remaining in your system longer which can ultimately result in your cold sticking around for a few more days than it actually should.
If anything is a bit of a wild card on this list, it would have to be coffee. I say that because there are about as many "pros" as there are "cons" when it comes to drinking it. On the beneficial side, coffee can reduce post-workout muscle discomfort, lower the risk of depression, cancer and even type 2 diabetes. Plus, it's loaded with fiber and can even protect against cirrhosis of the liver. Some reasons why you should consume java in moderation is it has the ability to increase your stress hormone and homocysteine levels (which can ultimately lead to heart disease), deplete your system of the calcium, magnesium and potassium that your body needs, plus it can be addictive.
If you love coffee so much that you can't imagine ever going without it, try and at least push your cup aside while you're getting over a cold. Because coffee/caffeine is a diuretic, drinking it can prevent your body from getting the fluids that you need in order to fully heal.
3.Fake Meat (Kinda)
I grew up being a Seventh-Day Adventist. Anyone who is (or knows someone who is) knows that MorningStar Farms is a staple in that denomination's diet. If you're unfamiliar with MorningStar, it's basically one of the longest-running "fake meat" brands there is around. While I know that a lot of folks are out here consuming "the un-meat" like there's no tomorrow, it's important to keep in mind that 1) a lot of that stuff contains quite a bit of soy, sodium and preservatives (which isn't a good thing) and 2) some of those foods also are loaded with gluten. Gluten is basically a protein that is found in grains (especially wheat) that's considered by a lot of health professionals to be "irrelevant" because it doesn't really provide any nutrients to your body. On the flip side, what it can do is elevate inflammation in your body (especially if you've got celiac disease).
Since a symptom of having a cold is inflammation in your system, which can result in it being more difficult for mucus to pass through your body, you might want to save that Impossible Burger until after you get to feeling better. Or, at the very least, opt for a gluten-free one instead. Otherwise, you could be "feeding your cold". Just not in a good way.
I'm a bit of a bread girl, so I can get why this might be really hard to give up or why you may want to treat it as a comfort food while you're battling a cold. While a sandwich, a slice of pizza or some French toast on occasion isn't necessarily a bad thing, the rule to apply here is all things must be applied in moderation. No matter how much you might enjoy bread, the reality is that it's got a ton of carbs in it, it lacks micronutrients and, many brands contain gluten. Since carbs pack on pounds and raise blood sugar levels, that should be reason enough to not want to go overboard on bread which includes pasta, fortified cereals, tortillas and even—wait for it—grits.
Since bread has gluten in it and we've already talked about what it can do, that's why you should avoid eating biscuits or burritos until your cold is over. Even then, make sure that you at least go the whole-grain route and you limit your portions as much as possible. Your immunity will thank you for it if you do.
Have you ever noticed that a lobster looks a lot like a cockroach? Yeah, a lot of seafood is considered to be bottom-feeders of the ocean. What this means is it's their job is to clean up filth in the water. If that's not enough of a reason to reconsider eating a lot of seafood, how about the fact that it's high in cholesterol and mercury; it is a common allergen; and, when foods like scallops, clams and oysters are not thoroughly cooked, the harmful bacteria that you can take into your system can be totally off the charts.
If you just read all of that and you're still like "whatever", try and hold off on the shrimp or calamari until you are feeling better. Something else that seafood contains plenty of are histamines (which explains why so many folks are allergic to it). Histamines can definitely elevate the congestion in your system and result in you feeling a lot more uncomfortable, if not flat-out miserable.
You probably already know that eating fried foods on a consistent basis isn't the best thing for your overall health and well-being. Aside from the fact that they can help you to pack on the pounds, since fried foods are also high in trans fats, eating too many of them can lead to health issues like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Another problem with fried foods is the preparation of them can produce a toxic substance known as acrylamide; it's something that can lead to kidney and ovarian cancers.
As if all of this isn't enough of a reason to eat fried chicken and fried mushrooms less often, fried food is something else that can increase inflammation in your body. Also, since they are the kinds of foods that take longer for your body to digest, they can cause you to have an upset stomach. You definitely don't want that when you're dealing with all of the annoying symptoms that come along with having a cold.
First off, were you aware of the fact that another name for avocados is "alligator pear"? The more you know, boy. Anyway, I know you probably want to give me some pushback on this one since there are so many health benefits that come from partaking of this particular fruit. After all, avocados are high in vitamins B6, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber and healthy fats. They also packed with antioxidants that can strengthen your heart. And, thanks to the tryptophan, folate and omega-3s that are in them, avocados can decrease depression-related symptoms too.
So, why are they on this list? It's because they're another food that are packed with histamines. Even if guacamole is a comfort food for you, wait until your sinuses clear up. Otherwise, you could have a big mess of mucus on your hands. Literally.
When it comes to the health benefits of chocolate, it's important to mention that dark chocolate that has at least 60 percent cocoa in it is what you should consume. That said, if you do make it a point to eat that kind, dark chocolate can improve your blood sugar levels, reduce your heart disease risk, strengthen your cognitive function, protect your skin from UV damage and keep free radicals at bay. That's the good news.
The reason why a cup of hot chocolate is not a good idea when you've got a cold is 1) the high saturation of fat that it contains can increase inflammation in your system and 2) the sugar that's in the chocolate can potentially multiply yeast and increase bacteria, especially in your gut where a significant amount of your immune system is located. That's why it's best to go with some hot apple cider, herbal tea or hot water with lemon and honey instead.
Yeah, I know. Some of these foods are probably things that you don't want to do without, especially when you're under the weather. But look at it this way—if you "fast" from them while you're getting over your cold, there's a significant chance that you'll get over it a lot quicker. That way, you'll actually be able to breathe the next time you have some fettucine or a fish sandwich. Now, doesn't that make it worth the wait?
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
10 "Healthy" Foods That Actually, Well...Aren't
8 Foods That Will Keep You Cool, Calm & Totally Relaxed
Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone
The Foods You Should & Shouldn't Be Eating On A Plant-Based Diet
Featured image by Shutterstock
- 100 Worst Foods for Cold & Flu | Eat This, Not That! ›
- Foods to avoid when you have the flu | Ohio State Medical Center ›
- What to Eat When Sick - Best and Words Foods for Illness | Health.com ›
- The 15 Best Foods to Eat When You're Sick ›
- 10 foods dietitians say you should avoid when you're sick - Insider ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Janelle Monáe's Reveals The Real Reason Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Tuxedos
Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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