Nausea with or without vomiting is a common side effect of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and biological therapy. The disease itself or other conditions unrelated to your cancer or treatment may also cause nausea.

Whatever the cause, nausea can keep the patients from getting enough food and needed nutrients. While the patients should ask the doctors about medication to help control nausea and vomiting, below are some tips that may help:

Try these Foods:

  • Toast and crackers
  • Curds
  • Sherbet
  • Sponge cake
  • Oatmeal
  • Shinned chicken (baked or boiled, not fried)
  • Fruit and vegetables that are soft or bland, such as stewed apples, bananas.
  • Clear liquid, sipped slowly

Avoid these foods

  • Fatty, greasy, or fried
  • Very sweet, such as candy, cookies or cake
  • Spicy or hot
  • With strong odours

These tips may help control nausea:

  • Eat small amount often and slowly
  • Avoid eating in a room that’s stuffy, too warm or has cooking odours that might disagree with the patient
  • Drink or sip liquids with meals. Drinking liquids can cause a full, bloated feeling
  • Drink or sip liquids throughout the day, except at meal times. Using a straw may help
  • Drink beverages cool or chilled: try freezing.
  • Eat foods cooler, at room temperature, as hot foods may add to nausea
  • Don’t forcibly eat favourite foods when feeling nauseated. This may cause a permanent dislike for those foods
  • Rest after meals, because activity may slow digestion. It is best to rest sitting up for about an hour after meals
  • Try eating dry toast crackers before getting up if nausea is a problem in the morning
  • Wear loose–fitting clothes
  • Avoid eating for 1 to 2 hours before treatment if nausea occurs during radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Try to keep track of when nausea occurs and what causes it (specific foods, events surrounding). If possible, make appropriate changes in diet or schedule

Vomiting may follow nausea and may be brought on by treatment, food odours, gas in stomach or bowel, or motion. Very often if nausea can be controlled, vomiting can be prevented. If vomiting occurs, the patients should try these tips to prevent further episodes:

  • Do not drink or eat until the vomiting is under control
  • Once vomiting is controlled, small amounts of clear liquids may be tried. Begin with 1 teaspoon full every 10 minutes, gradually increase the amount to 1 tablespoon full every 20 minutes and finally, 2 tablespoons full every 30 minutes.
  • When patient is able to keep down clear liquids, a full liquid diet should be tried. Continue taking small amounts as often as they can keep them down. If feeling okay on a full liquid diet, gradually work up to regular diet. If having a hard time digesting milk, try a soft diet instead of full liquid diet. When feeling okay on the soft diet, should gradually add more foods to return to regular diet.

Miss Rajkumari Binapani is a Lecturer–cum-Dietitian at the Central Referral Hospital, Sikkim Manipal University.

At Central Referral Hospital, dietitians support people to improve their health by providing expert nutrition and dietary advice. A dietitian can help you manage health conditions, such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart disease, Renal disease, Dialysis, Cancer. The Diet Clinic at Central Referral Hospital also offers customised meal plan and food chart.
Visit: Diet Clinic, Level 3, Central Referral Hospital, Tadong, Gangtok.

Also Read | Cancer treatment: Managing eating problems, sore mouth, throat

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