What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: March 24, 2022
What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks

Inflammation of the tonsils, also known as tonsillitis, is when your tonsils to swell due to a viral infection. Or, less often, a bacterial infection. Often the symptoms are mild, with some swelling and a general run-down feeling. If the tonsillitis is acute or chronic, the levels of pain and discomfort can be intense and will need antibiotics to ease the symptoms. Although it is ill-advised among adults, in severe cases tonsillitis will require surgical removal of the tonsils. You may be waiting for a surgery date, have just taken antibiotics or are only starting to see the signs of tonsillitis. Either way, oneHOWTO will show you the best things to eat when you have tonsillitis to reduce the intensity of your symptoms.

You may also be interested in: What To Eat If I Have Sore Throat

Avoid hot drinks

It is generally not recommended to drink hot drinks due to the risk factor for your esophagus. But if you have tonsillitis, this is particularly the case. Eating hot food or drink can increase irritation, inflame the tonsillitis and cause greater discomfort. The tonsils are already sensitive, so scalding them will not make them any better and could lead to further problems. If you are eating hot food or drinking hot beverages while you have tonsillitis, let them cool to room temperature before ingesting. If you don't have the patience, eat food which is best served cold in the first place. Alcoholic beverages and smoking will worsen the tonsillitis, so avoid them. Smoking is not only bad for you if you have swelling caused by tonsillitis, it ¡s not good for you in general.

What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks - Avoid hot drinks

Recommended soft foods

As the tonsils are between the mouth cavity and the opening of the esophagus, the food you eat will have to pass by them before it enters the stomach. As the tonsils are inflamed, if this food is too big or coarse then it interferes with the sensitive swollen tonsils on its way down. The tonsils are trying to heal, so just as you shouldn't pick a scab on your knee, you should do what you can to not agitate the tonsils. Soft foods such as broths, boiled vegetables and tender meat require little chewing and won't irritate the tonsils much. Again, ensure to eat them at an appropriate temperature, otherwise you may be worse off than having eaten nothing. Taking painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen with food will help the pain and protect the stomach.

What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks - Recommended soft foods

Nutrition is important

The nutritional value of your food is as important as its texture. If your body has an infection like tonsillitis, then you need to eat food which boosts your immune system. As part of the issue is the swelling of the tonsils, you must eat food which is a natural anti-inflammatory. These include:

  • fatty fish with high levels of omega-3 (like salmon, herring, anchovies and sardines)
  • olive oil
  • cruciferous vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens)
  • nuts
  • fruits like tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and cherries

Foods rich in vitamin C will also help boost your immune system. However, as the tonsils themselves are physically sensitive, you need to be careful. The high citric acid in vitamin C rich foods such as oranges and lemons can agitate the infected tonsils.

There are also foods to avoid, as they can cause further inflammation and exacerbate the tonsillitis. These include processed meats, high sugar snacks, high fat content snacks like chips, low-grade animal products and common allergens like milk, dairy, excessive gluten and some nightshades (although tomatoes should be fine).

To make the most of these nutrients when you have tonsillitis, you can eat soups and vegetable purées, that are soft, but still very nutritious. Purées with carrots, celery, tomato, butternut squash or spinach are great options. You can add a little shredded chicken to increase the protein. Further helping to keep up your defenses against infection.

What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks - Nutrition is important

Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated is also incredibly important when you have tonsillitis. If you don't drink plenty of fluid or eat food with a high water content, then your body will not function at the optimal level. It will not only help keep your body's defenses up as you fight infection, but it will stop your throat from becoming dry. A dry throat will make swallowing even harder if you have swollen tonsils. Drinking plenty of water if you have tonsillitis is imperative, but you can also drink juices and some teas to help you along. Bear in mind that juices with a high acid content can be unhelpful. However, if you dilute the acidic juice in some warm (not hot) water, then it will stop this from happening. You can also add some honey and ginger to help boost your immune system and soothe swollen tonsils caused by tonsillitis.

If you want to know more, we recommend you read our article on what to drink if you have tonsillitis.

What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks - Drink plenty of water

Ice cream to sooth a sore throat

If you have been hospitalized or had to see a doctor because of tonsillitis, the one silver lining you may have seen is that for once in your life, ice cream consumption is encouraged! Of course, too much high sugar content food is not good to eat if you have tonsillitis, but the soothing coldness can give you some relief. The low temperature will reduce the swelling of the tonsils and can also help reduce the pain caused by tonsillitis. A sorbet is another good option as it will act in the same way, but generally will have less allergens and sugar. Greek yogurt is a probiotic and thanks to both its texture and nutritional content, will help soothe your throat.

What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks - Ice cream to sooth a sore throat

Other recommended foods

If you're fed-up of soups and creams to eat when you have tonsillitis, boiled rice is also pretty easy to swallow. Although you may be used to eating rice with spicy food, it is ill-advisable to eat it if you have tonsillitis. Spicy food can make the swelling worse. Simply cook the rice until soft with a little salt and add some herbs, lemon and ginger to give it some antibiotic properties. Mashed potato will work in a similar way and you can eat it with some of the pureed vegetables we mentioned earlier. The healthy fat content and natural oils in avocados, along with their soft texture, make them a great option when you have tonsillitis.

What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks - Other recommended foods

Avoid dairy and meat

Avoid meats and foods that are hard to chew, since swallowing will cause discomfort. If you also have a lot of mucus, avoid cheese and milk as this will only make the condition worse. If you are eating ice cream as a means to ease the pain and swelling, please know that eating too much dairy can also be problematic. It could potentially increase your recovery time from tonsillitis. Consider dairy-free ice cream.

If after three days your condition hasn't improved, or if you have pus, swollen glands and extreme pain in the area, it's advisable to consult a doctor for a check-up. Eating certain foods to help with your tonsillitis may not be enough and they will advise whether prescribed antibiotics or even surgery are required.

Apart from the food you eat when you have tonsillitis, you can also try these home remedies. Remember you should follow your doctor's instructions in order to minimize the amount of time your tonsillitis is contagious.

Plus, if you frequently get tonsillitis, you can learn how to prevent and avoid tonsillitis in adults.

What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks - Avoid dairy and meat

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
i have tonsils and my doctor has advised to not eat or drink cold foods but many articles are saying to eat icecream and cold beverges . why?
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Rishabh,

The ice cream can numb the pain temporarily, but it won't provide much relief at all. However, they are usually safe if you have tonsilitis. There may be another reason your doctor suggested not eating these foods.
I was so confuse about how to deal with tonsils
But because of your site i am able to know the cautious
OneHowTo Editor

We are so glad we could be useful, it's what we're here for!
I've had this tonsilitis/ulcers in my Throat for bout a week.. I was in the hospital for 9 days taking antibiotics and i was discharged and been taking clindamycin 300mg. Amoxicillin 875mg and methyliprednisolone 4mg after i got out nd been taking these for bout 3 days everything yet im still hurting to swallow went to get checked out and they said i wont need surgery much longer will i have to suffer with this .???..
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Tyavion,

I personally have had chronic tonsillitis problems in the past, so I know your (literal) pain and I empathize. Unfortunately, it does get nasty and the only thing that works is a combination of antibiotics, rest and care. If you are an adult, then it is a good thing you don't need surgery. I unfortunately did and, although it was necessary, it was a very unpleasant experience.

We can't diagnose medical problems here in the comments. It is possible there are complications. However, you have done the right thing and seen the doctor and it is not abnormal for it to take a while to get back on the mend. Be patient and rest, it should start to ease once the antibiotics do their job, but it can take a little while. We hope you get well soon.
Iv had tonsillitis for 7 days on the second night we went to the hostipal and they gave me some antibiotics i had a tonsillitis infection but only on my left and my left glads swollen i can only dink cold drinks and eat ice cream and icey poles i will not eat very much but today im goingyo a movie and i was wodering ifi could eat popcorn? Thanks
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Alexcis,

Generally you should stay away from food with sharp edges, which popcorn definitely is. People with difficulty swallowing might find popcorn hard to eat at the best of times, so it may need to be avoided. However, if you are feeling well enough to go out to the cinema it's possible the swelling has gone down and there is little visible infection. If this is the case, it's a judgment call for yourself to make.

Hope this helps!
tia mohanani
OneHowTo Editor
You'll find a list of foods you can eat with tonsillitis in this same article, above the comments section.
Hope it helps
Avoid refined sugars... like sorbet, slushies, and ice cream: Bacteria thrives off it. The only pro is that it's cold... try ice cubes. Avoid anything acidic as well
is it true that tonsillits cause pregnancu failer
Yesterday i feel pain at the back of my nose and its kind of like phlegm and now when i woke i can feel less pain from yesterday but now my throat hurts like its making friction. The feeling when you burned your tongue and rubbing it everytime i swallow. What should i do? Pls help
OneHowTo Editor
If the pain persists you should visit your GP so you can get a proper diagnosis. Hope this helps
i am suffering from toungsill and i have some holes inside my throat.....i am suffering extream pain...hlp me plzz
OneHowTo Editor
You should consider going to the doctor, you might have an infection and may need to be prescribed with antibiotics.
Michaella Bravo
When drinking orange juice, am i allowed to drink it while its cold or i'll let it warm?
OneHowTo Editor
It's fine both ways. Contrary to popular belief, cold can actually soothe throat soreness. As long as it's not boiling hot it's fine. Hope this helps
Citrus fruits should be avoided due to their acidic content. This will only irritate an already raw throat. Also, many medical professionals agree that milk products producing more mucus is not an issue.
Alba Charles (oneHOWTO editor)
One of the properties of lemon is that it kills bactera and relieves itchiness, soreness and irritation, so it is recommended to treat tonsillitis.
As for the milk, it does increase mucus, but if drinking it calms down the irritation on your tonsils then you can do it.
The acidic content in citrus fruits may ruin the situation. You can treat with honey and ginger. And consuming milk is only bad for those who already have an allergy for it
Can You Drink COCO COLA or MILKSHAKE ? But sometimes when you have it you cant eat probley or Drink ...
OneHowTo Editor
Milkshake is not such a good idea as it has milk and this will build up mucus. Cocacola will do no harm but is not advisable
i have tonsill from 8 months.i have check up from doctor also.i have take medicen also.but it cant becom good still told not to eat oily and cool things.and i dont eat cool and oil food also. but it cant improve
u have to try vegetables soups warm water
Dose smoke cause tonisll
OneHowTo Editor
Smoking can worsen the conditions of tonsillitis and can make you more prone to getting it but it is not a cause per se.
i have a tonsill from 8 month.i take medicen from doctors advis i check up from doctors also.but its still same. what can i do?i control oily food and cold things acording to doctor advise.
I've had what i believe to be tonsillitis for about 4 days now, And with health care being so expensive i've held back from the doctor, It's was doing fine, very little pain all day then as the sun went down it started to hurt a little more, But didn't Emmense pain didn't start until after i ate dinner, I then browsed the web to see why, And it says that Wheat causes the tonsils to swell, Is this true and could this be the reason why im in such great pain now, [Added information] It is just my left tonsil that is swollen with little white bumps on it, And a light mucus appears around my tonsil.
OneHowTo Editor
It sounds like you have pus in your tonsils so it's best if you go to the doctor so he or she can prescribe antibiotics
Doctors advice not to take icecreams while suffering from tonsilitis.but here they suggest to eat it correct or not?
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Monika,
Cold has an anti-inflammatory effect and can also calm the pain from tonsillitis. Make sure they are ice-based ice creams such as popsicles or sorbets though, not those with a milk base.
Tonsillitis time can we eat bananas Apple pears orange
OneHowTo Editor
It's not specifically bad to eat these fruits when you have tonsillitis, but they might be a little bit difficult to swallow. If you want to boost your defenses thanks to their vitamins, your best option is to blend them to make a puree or smoothie.
Josephine the Great
Kindly explain to me further how slushies/ice cream can help? Isn't it sweet? Thank you!
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Josephine, due to their temperature they can help relieve the pain caused by the swelling
Hi, so I have saliva stones atm, and eating anything is agony. I can do hot drinks and the like, as well as tomato soup, but that's it. Do you have any suggestions for anything else I could try eating?
Michael Riley (oneHOWTO editor)
Hi Cullum, why don't you try a citrus smoothie? The soft texture might be easier to handle and the citric acid should help to stimulate the saliva glands and dislodge the stones.

Hope this helps!
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What to Eat When You Have Tonsillitis - The Best Foods and Drinks