Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting occasionally occur when you are receiving chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. The amount and degree may vary depending upon your disease and type of treatment and medication that you receive. Here are some recommendations for dealing with this symptom:

Fluids and Diet

  • Avoid greasy or fatty foods, as well as salty foods. Avoid alcohol and coffee during this time. 
  • Eat frequent small meals and try to keep something in your stomach at all times. Try not to skip meals. Nausea is more likely to occur on an empty stomach.
  • Many people cannot tolerate meat while receiving chemotherapy treatment. Some may prefer chicken or fish rather than beef. Good sources of protein are: eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, nut butters, whole grains, yogurt, soy products and cheese. 
  • Have liquids 30 to 60 minutes before or after meals, rather than with meals.
  • Eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly is helpful.
  • Rest after meals with your head slightly elevated.
  • Cold foods may be more appealing than hot foods, since they have fewer odors associated with them. 
  • Dry crackers and toast will help when you feel nausea. Foods high in complex carbohydrates(breads, pastas, potatoes, and rice) are easy to tolerate and will take longer to digest. Blue corn meal (atole) is another easy to tolerate carbohydrate. 
  • Fresh ginger, ginger teas, or ginger candy may help with nausea. 
  • If you vomit more than once, reduce your food intake to clear liquids and contact your doctor. Have small sips of liquid every few minutes rather than a whole glass at a time. 

Other Suggestions:

  • Take anti-nausea medicine as prescribed even when you don’t feel ill. If you have medication to take only when needed, take it at the first sign of nausea. Lie down and wait for the medicine to take effect. 
  • Keep your mouth fresh-tasting. Be sure to do mouth care prior to meals.  
  • Try not to confuse nausea with heartburn, because different medications are needed for each condition. 
  • Let family and friends help with meal planning. Suggest single portions labeled and placed in your freezer that you can heat up for meals. Reduced cooking time will decrease cooking odors that sometimes make you feel less hungry.