Controlling Nagging Nausea: Six Tips on How to Combat Nausea!
How to combat nausea? When experiencing nausea, unfortunately the last thing we want to think about is food. When nausea comes along with cancer treatment, however, thinking about food – especially healthy foods – is very important. Good nutrition is crucial to help maintain a healthy weight, consume adequate calories, protein vitamins and minerals, and sustain the appropriate level of energy for health and healing during and after cancer treatment. Believe it or not, there are some easy ways to combat nausea that is experienced during or after cancer treatment. These tips help ease the queasiness and improve appetite.
How To Combat Nausea with 6 tips for controlling nagging nausea:
1.Consume small, frequent meals: Consuming frequent meals is important because nausea can be worsened by an empty stomach. Food naturally moves through our digestive system by muscular contractions. On an empty stomach, there is more of a chance that these contractions can become irregular and worsen feelings of nausea and indigestion. By keeping a little food in your stomach throughout the day, you help to maintain regular contractions and reduce nausea.
2. Avoid lying down too soon after meals: This is helpful to prevent food from regurgitating into the esophagus and lingering in the stomach. Sitting upright for a minimum of 15-20 minutes after meal time can help food to move through your system the way it needs too.
3. Avoid heavy meals: Foods that are too high in fat can also make nausea worse. High fat foods like cheese and full fat dairy products, fried foods, gravies, cream sauces, red meats, etc. will stay in the stomach much longer and can worsen queasiness and indigestion because of this. Aim to avoid these foods. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, grilled or baked foods without excess gravies and sauces and lower fat dairy products.
4. Avoid unpleasant odors: Cancer treatment can cause increased sensitivity to smells and odors, especially those from foods. Be aware of the odors that can affect you. Typically fish, cruciferous vegetables, and heavy spices like curries that are used in meals can be unpleasant. Epecially, when you are feeling nauseous. Aim to have foods that are more simple and bland, and served closer to room temperature, to avoid aggravating odors.
Smoothies, like this healthy Green Smoothie, from Eating Well Through Cancer cookbook are an odorless food, that are a good way to maintain nutrition without eating heavy meal.
5. Drink fluids separate from meals: Sometimes consuming too many textures at the same sitting can worsen nausea. Some people find it helpful to separate eating and drinking by 10-15 minutes in order to avoid worsening nausea. Thus, it may be helpful to drink water or other fluids before or after meal time to help reduce nausea.
6. Ginger goodness: Ginger has been shown to help alleviate nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy and with other types of nausea as well. It has a plant chemical compound that works similarly to some prescription strength anti-nausea medicines. Helpful ways to include ginger would be to try eating in cookie or cracker, grating into to soups and stir fries, or steeping in your favorite tea, hot beverage, or even smoothie! Some people try ginger in the form of a pill as well. Speak to your healthcare team to determine if this is an option for you!
These Gingerbread Muffins make a great anytime snack or breakfast. They may be just the ticket on how to combat nausea. Keep extra in your freezer to pull out when not feeling well.
These tips are easy to implement – try one at a time to see if they help your nausea. You may also want to consider keeping a food diary as you make changes to your diet. This helps monitor for improvement and changes in your symptoms. If you need help creating a personalized nutrition plan, you can speak with a registered dietitian from the comfort of your own home through Savor Health’s nutrition counseling service. A registered dietitian who specializes in oncology nutrition can work with patients before, during and after cancer treatment to guide patients on specific ways to optimize nutritional intake for improved strength, health and healing.
Jessica Iannotta MS, RD, CSO, CDN
Jessica is oncology dietitian and the chief operating officer at Savor Health— a technology-enabled platform designed by cancer nutrition experts — provides evidence-based nutrition solutions and educational programs to help patients be well nourished, gain control over side effects, and experience improved treatment journey and clinical outcomes.