It is important to try to maintain weight and nutrition despite nausea and vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting may be caused by a lot of components with cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments often cause nausea and vomiting, but medications, stress, intense pain, and illness may also result in nausea and vomiting.
With vomiting, dehydration may occur, which means the body needs replenishment of fluids and salt. Sip fruit juices, sports drinks, or Ginger Ale to get some sodium and liquids back into your system. Broth is another great option.
Try eating smaller meals throughout the day, such as a smaller breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and three snacks. This keeps your stomach from getting too full and overwhelmed, and it can better handle and digest the small amounts of food. This is also a way to keep nutrients coming into your body steadily.
Keeping food in your stomach can also reduce stomach acid and help with nausea and vomiting. Click here for more on small, frequent meals.
After vomiting, swish your mouth with water and then spit. To get rid of the taste, swish your mouth with the following baking soda mixture:
- 1 teaspoon baking soda,
- ¾ teaspoon salt, and
- 1 quart warm or cool water)
Or suck on hard candies like peppermint or lemon drops. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting because the acid from the vomit can hurt teeth enamel.
Avoid spicy, acidic, and greasy foods.
Try some of these bland foods to keep food in your system:
- Plain pasta
- Dry toast
- Lightly salted crackers
A note on medical management of nausea and vomiting
Many people going through treatment are offered anti-nausea medicine. If you are trying all the nutrition tips and still have nausea/vomiting or continued weight loss, it is important to develop a strategy for your medical management.
I recommend that you take your anti-nausea medicine on a regular schedule to reduce episodes of food aversion or vomiting. Taking medicine 30 minutes before you start eating is a good way to make sure the medicine is working before you try to eat.
Be sure to work with your medical team to determine a strategy that works for you and optimizes your nutrition intake.
- Eat small frequent meals, about 6-8 a day
- Hard candies and peppermints can help with nausea
- Dehydration is a concern, so make sure you are consuming adequate liquids throughout the day
- Rehydrate after any vomiting – choose water and sports drinks to add back electrolytes
- Rinse mouth with water after vomiting, then try not to drink anything for 30 minutes
- Avoid brushing your teeth following getting sick because the acid from the vomit can harm your teeth
- After getting sick, swish your mouth with water and then a baking soda rinse
- Eat small meals often during the day
- Try bland foods
- Avoid spicy, acidic, and greasy foods
- Take anti-nausea medication 30 minutes before eating