Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea is the feeling of discomfort in the abdomen, associated with the urge to vomit.  Nausea can be a side effect of certain chemo drugs and receiving radiation to the abdomen and can vary in intensity.  In addition to taking your anti-nausea medications as prescribed, there are some food ‘tricks’ you can try to help alleviate some of the discomfort.  

  • Don’t let your stomach get empty…that can make nausea worse!  Sometimes, people don’t want to eat anything when nauseated, in fear of vomiting.  Instead, try to eat small amounts of bland foods every 2-3 hours during the day to help keep the nausea at bay.  This may include foods like saltines, plain or lightly buttered toast, mashed potatoes, dry cereal, white rice, or hard-boiled egg whites.
  • It’s important to stay hydrated during your treatments, but it often helps if you have something bland and solid in your stomach prior to eating.  Sometimes liquid hitting an empty, nauseated stomach can make the nausea worse.
  • Peppermint and ginger have soothing qualities to nauseated stomachs.  Try sucking on peppermints, drinking peppermint or ginger tea, eating a few ginger snaps, or preparing foods with ginger root.  If you’re interested in taking ginger supplements, discuss it first with your physician.  
  • The smell of warm food can trigger nausea for some people.  If this is true for you, let food cool down to room temperature – or choose foods that are naturally cool like sandwiches, salads, yogurt, cottage cheese, crackers and peanut butter – to help eliminate those smells.  
  • If smells associated with cooking bother you, try (if possible) to be in a back bedroom when foods are being prepared and have fans running in the kitchen to diffuse the smell.  Utilizing cooking methods that will limit smells such as grilling, using a George Foreman, using a crockpot, and baking.  Using the microwave and stovetop and be more aromatic ways of preparing foods and may want to be avoided.  
  • Limit or avoid foods that are very sweet, fatty, greasy, or spicy, as they can all cause nausea to flare up.  
  • If you do vomit, it’s important to be even more diligent about fluid intake to prevent dehydration.  Wait about 30 minutes after vomiting and then take sips of clear liquids such as cranberry juice, broth, Gatorade/Powerade/Pedialyte, broth, Sprite or 7Up, or bites of popsicles or jello.


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