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Valheim guide: How to heal

Food is thy medicine

A Viking stands near a campfire Image: Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Publishing via Polygon

Valheim is a brutal survival game, and there’s no easy way to quickly restore your health. Healing yourself in Valheim isn’t as simple as using an item and regaining your precious life force. It’s a slow, somewhat confusing process at first.

In this Valheim guide, we’ll explain how to heal. While the process takes a bit of getting used to, once you learn certain skills, like how to cook, you’ll be able to increase your health despite the game’s many challenges.

How to heal in Valheim

To regain health in Valheim, you mostly need to eat. You can eventually make potions to restore hit points, but eating food is the key to increasing your minuscule base health and increase your survivability. This is especially worth noting as you face one of the game’s first big challenges: defeating Eikthyr.

Eating food has several interrelated healing properties worth understanding.

Food increases your max health

You begin Valheim with 25 (points of?) health. When you eat, the food raises your maximum health. For instance, a piece of cooked meat adds 40 points to your maximum health. This change is instant. You can see how much health a piece of food adds to your health pool by looking at the food in your item menu.

A menu in Valheim Image: Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Publishing via Polygon

However, the healing properties of food change, depending on your health status when you eat.

Eating when you have full health

If you have full health and you eat food, you gain the increase to your maximum health, and your current health quickly grows to your new maximum.

For instance, if you have full health (25) and you eat a piece of cooked meat (40), your total health pool increases to 65, and your current amount of health quickly grows to fill the 40-point gap between your base health and your new maximum.

Eating when you don’t have full health

If you have less than full health and you eat food, you gain the increase to your total health, but you won’t gain more health instantly. Instead, you will slowly gain health based on the type of food you ate.

For example, If you are missing any of your base health, your total amount of health will grow to a maximum of 65, but your missing health will slowly increase by two points about every 10 seconds.

Food duration

There is yet another important factor to understanding how food heals you: duration.

Each food item has a duration of time during which it remains effective. A food’s duration affects two factors: the amount of total health it adds and how long it restores health.

When you eat food, it instantly raises your total amount of health (i.e. 20 becomes 65). However, that new maximum disappears at one point of health roughly every 30 seconds. As with our cooked meat example, eating it will add 40 more points of health to your total, but that total is temporary. It’ll dwindle one point at a time (from 40 to 39 to 38 to 37 and so on), and the additional 40 additional points totally disappearing after 20 minutes.

Even though your total amount of health from food will disappear over time, the amount of healing it provides will still remain active for that duration. So cooked meat will still restore two points of missing health about every 10 seconds until 20 minutes is over.

The food slot screen in Valheim
You can only eat three foods
Image: Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Publishing via Polygon

To get the most health you can, you have to eat a diverse amount of food. You cannot eat another piece of any given food if you’re currently increasing your health with it. So if you just ate cooked meat, you cannot another piece for at least 20 minutes. To gain more health, you’ll need a balanced diet of multiple types of food.

The key to maximizing the amount of total health you have is by learning how to cook.

At any given moment, you can only eat three foods. It’s worth learning how to cook more meals while also foraging for items like raspberries. As you gain benefits from food, three slots will fill up next to your health bar. These slots represent the foods that are currently affecting your health. The colors on your health bar will also change to match your currently active foods.

As the benefits of your food disappear over time, the colored health bars will go away and you’ll eventually return to your base health, represented in light gray.