Nausea and Vomiting


Nausea and vomiting are medical issues. If you cannot keep food down because you are vomiting, talk to your doctor or nurse about the right medications to get your vomiting under control. Once you stop vomiting, you can curb any remaining nausea by choosing the right foods, adjusting your cooking methods, and carefully planning your eating schedule. See the tips below for good ways to use nutrition as a nausea fighter.

Nutrition Tips for Nausea 

  • If you cannot eat because of nausea and vomiting, call your doctor or nurse right away. They will help you with medication and other options for treating nausea and vomiting.
  • Avoid food smells. Stay away from the kitchen when food is being prepared. Ask friends and family to help you with this.
  • Try foods that have low odor or a short cooking time. Examples include scrambled eggs; French toast; pancakes; oatmeal; cream of wheat; cold cereal; canned peaches, pears, or fruit cocktail; and Shakes and Smoothies.
  • If sweet things don't taste good to you, try making a sour, tart, or mildly sweet shake or smoothie. For example, you can make a fruit smoothie or milk shake with frozen cranberries.
  • Try adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of finely ground, decaffeinated coffee to a chocolate or vanilla liquid supplement such as Boost® or Ensure®.
  • Try drinking from a “to-go” cup or travel mug that has a lid. Covering the liquid can cut down on the smells that can make nausea worse.
  • Eat five or six small meals and snacks each day instead of three large meals. This will take some work if you are used to eating just a couple of times each day. ANY food can be a snack. Don't worry about how much you eat, just focus on eating often. For many people, keeping a bit of food in the stomach can help reduce nausea.
  • Keep snacks handy. Hunger only may last a few minutes. Try easy foods such as granola bars; fruit; nuts; yogurt; pudding; pretzels or crackers; single serving sizes of canned fruit, tuna, or chicken; trail mix; power bars; oatmeal; hard boiled eggs; and Popsicles.
  • Try bland, warm cereals such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, or Soup.
  • If cold foods sound good to you, try frozen fruit such as frozen grapes or frozen watermelon wedges.
  • Treat food like medication. Set some times to eat, such as every one-half to one hour. Then be sure to have at least 1 or 2 bites of food at each “medication” time. Quantity and type of food are less important. Eating often is more important.
  • Some people find that keeping a little food in their stomach all of the time can help prevent nausea. Even a bite or two can help. Do not let your stomach get completely empty, which may worsen nausea.
  • Try sucking on candied ginger root or sipping ginger tea.

Avoid the following, which can make nausea worse 

  • Gas-producing foods such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, corn, peas, cauliflower, chives, cucumber, kohlrabi, leeks, green and red peppers, radishes, sauerkraut, turnips, carbonated drinks, cantaloupe & other types of melon, apricots, prunes, raw apples, sugar substitutes, and wheat bran.
  • Chewing gum which can cause you to swallow air and feel more bloated.
  • Fatty, greasy, fried, and spicy foods, which can worsen nausea.
  • Candy, cakes, pies, cheesecakes, and other rich desserts. These can worsen nausea.
  • Foods with strong odors.
  • Lying down flat after eating. This can cause heartburn. Instead, rest after eating, but prop yourself up with pillows or relax in a comfortable chair.

Call Your Medical Care Team If... 

  • You can't control your symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or lack of appetite.
  • You feel like your anti-nausea medication is not working.
  • You feel too tired to get out of bed for more than 24 hours.
  • You feel confused, dizzy, lose your balance or fall.
  • You are unable to keep down fluids or you feel dehyrated.
  • You have lost more than 2-3 lbs in a week due to nausea or vomiting.
  • You have a fever.
This content was last reviewed August 15, 2010 by Dr. Reshma L. Mahtani.
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