of Yaps and Cheng

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Cough: Taboo foods

I hate coughing. Especially for kids.

Little boy’s cough always seem to develop from a simple dry one to a major phlegmy one.

The darn cough is the one common ailment that makes eating just damn troublesome. You have to avoid certain food, which are normally nutritious and quite staple, otherwise the cough just never ends. So you also end up worrying if the kiddo will eat the second options which are less preferred during this time when his appetite is also simply not at its best. If he doesn’t, then you have to the question of whether he’s full enough and grandparents’ worries of low food intake… the list goes on.

I’m not a natural when it comes to remembering food properties. It takes major major effort just to remember the cause and effects of certain foods, and this is a essential survival skill when you are a mum. I used to feel rather conspicuous asking other mummies the same question “What foods can the little boy not eat when he XX ah?” repeatedly when I was a freshie mum. Made me feel like an irresponsible caregiver.

Finally, after immense effort, I could rattle top-of-mind what the little boy cannot eat when the damned cough comes. Banana, chicken, egg, fish (especially when in China for some inexplicable reason) and orange! Yay!

I thought that was it until I visited the pediatrician recently. She handed me a looooong list of taboo foods. The list is actually a guide to weaning a baby from milk to solids, and is based on how highly allergenic the foods are. According to my ped, highly allergenic foods escalate coughs.

Big taboo (highly allergenic foods) – 咳嗽禁忌:

  • Phlegm-inducing
    • 橘子 Oranges – I know this, what’s new? Please remember orange juice also cannot, ok. There goes one source of vit C.
    • 大香蕉 Banana – the big ones e.g. Del Monte types. The small ones are ok.
    • 奇异果 Kiwi – another vit C source gone!
    • 葡萄 Grapes
    • 西瓜 Watermelon
    • 芒果 Mangoes
    • 黄梨 Pineapples
    • 榴莲 Durian
    • 燕窝 Bird’s nest – hmm, who gives bird’s nest to kids?
  • 花生 Peanuts – induce itchy cough. No more popiah!
  • 蛋白 Egg white – ah ha! yolk is actually ok if the cough is not too serious, but no harm avoiding if you can (you will see later). If you are a parent, you will certainly empathize with the encounter of “what’s left to cook/ order now????” during mealtimes because your child probably loves the egg and you rely on it as a sure-win-will-finish-meal food.
  • 海鲜除鱼 Seafood, e.g. prawns, crabs, scallops (dried/fresh) – Fish is ok if cough not too serious.

Notice chicken is not on the list, heh? That’s the old wives tale of taboo foods. Ped says chicken is not that highly allergenic, but oh well, who knows. I avoided it totally, it’s easier.

Small taboo (foods most likely to cause allergic reactions) – 咳嗽小忌:

  • 蛋黄 Egg yolk – that’s why it’s only ok if it’s a mild cough, and you’re confident it will stay this way
  • 鱼 Fish – as above
  • 莓果 Berries, e.g. strawberry, raspberry
  • 豆类 Legumes e.g. soyabeans, beans

There you go. So apples, pears, rice, carrots and other vegetables are your best bet. Skip the meat if you don’t mind, since they are harder to digest for a sick child who should concentrate his energy on battling the damn cough anyway.

By the way, small taboo foods are to be introduced to babies from 9 months, and big taboo stuff from 1 year onwards.

By the way too, this applies to adults.

Excuse me while I save this long list on Evernote. Cough cough.


Cough: Home remedy with ya pear

Too much info stuffed into a brain with too little memory (I need a memory upgrade!).

Need to start documenting all the food remedies, food facts, illness facts etc I’ve picked up in the past 2 years growing up with little boy, otherwise I keep asking myself the same question – What to do ah?

Here’s my first file, since I need to share with Eve too.

What do I do when the little one coughs? with phlegm?

This is a simple food remedy recipe I learnt from a friend who’s also a Chinese physician, using 鸭梨 (ya pear)  and 川贝 (fritillaria) powder. I like it because the little one also like it because it is sweet and taste like dessert. Doesn’t hurt that the hubby likes it too.

FOR: Cough with/without phlegm. Also to 润肺 (I see it as the general well-being of your lung).


  • 1 Ya pear (DO NOT remove skin)
  • 5 g 川贝 powder (can purchase in the powder form in TCM halls)
  • Cut off the top of pear, and put aside.
  • Remove core of the pear with spoon and add 川贝powder.
  • Cover pear with its cut-top like a lid, secure with toothpicks if necessary.
  • Steam over low fire for 30 minutes, or until 川贝powder turns transparent
  • Consume whole pear and 川贝, including the pear skin which is effective for treating cough.
  • Treating coughs: Eat 1 pear a day for one week
  • General health/ lungs: Eat 1 pear once a week
鸭梨 originates from Hebei province, China and looks like this:

Ya pear

Read here for more info in Chinese. You can get this in NTUC if in Singapore, most supermarkets if in China. Unfortunately, I don’t find it as commonly available as other pears from China.

Just read googled that 雪梨 (snow pear) is also useful to treat coughs and phlegm, so I guess it’s a good substitute for the ya pear.