Nausea is an unpleasant sensation to go through even if you never end up vomiting. The feeling of being queasy and sick to your stomach makes it difficult to go about daily activities or eat properly.
Unfortunately, not eating can lead to its own bout of problems in addition to making your nausea worse in some cases. If you end up vomiting, the resulting dehydration can pose additional health risks to boot. Therefore, learning what you can eat when nauseous is important for helping yourself along the road to recovery.
Making sure you have proper fluid intake is always important, but it is doubly so when you have been vomiting. You do not want to deal with dehydration symptoms alongside your original problems. Generally, you should try to have eight to 10 glasses of clear liquid each day—water ideally. Fruit juice or soda can work as well, but you should let open bottles of soda sit for a while so the carbonation fades. Sports drinks are also useful and can further help replenish any minerals or nutrients lost during bouts of vomiting.
If you find that you are struggling to keep drinks down, it can help to take a more indirect approach. Sucking on ice chips or popsicles can deliver liquids in a more gradual and gentle manner than directly drinking, as can trying to eat water-rich foods like clear soups or Jell-O. When drinking or eating watery foods, start slowly and in small amounts until you find the level your stomach is comfortable with.
Starchy foods can help relieve nausea since items like crackers or bread are useful for absorbing stomach acid. Nibble on pretzels, dry cereal, or soda crackers throughout the day, before you go to bed, and in the morning before getting up to help keep your stomach settled. It is important that you eat these foods dry since eating with liquids can end up making your nausea worse in certain cases.
Be a BRAT
BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. It refers to a specific diet approach that can help manage nausea so long as you wait at least six hours after vomiting before eating. The advantage to BRAT is that the four foods are all fairly bland and easy to keep down. This makes BRAT ideally suited for situations where your nausea is the result of digestive aggravations, such as food poisoning.
Even if you don’t adopt the BRAT diet directly, it is still a good idea to stick to bland foods while nauseous. Simple meals with easy-to-digest foods like mashed potatoes, gelatins, low-fat puddings, poached eggs, or plain noodles are good stomach-friendly options.
Ginger is an old natural treatment for nausea that does have some evidentiary support behind its use in combating sea sickness and other types of queasiness. The general idea is to eat up to a gram of ginger at a time with a max of four grams per day. How you actually get the ginger is up to you. Capsules can be bought and taken directly or you can use ginger teas, chew on some ginger root, or have a glass of (flat) ginger ale. Since Christmas is coming up, a gingerbread man or two is also a festive option.
Keep the Temperature Down
When considering what to eat when nauseous, the way it is served can sometimes matter as much as the food itself. Hot and warm foods are better at stimulating activity in the central nervous system due to the way the body registers temperature. Since the central nervous system also governs nausea, one line of thinking holds that higher-temperature food can make symptoms worse. Consider cold foods like salads, sorbet, or chilled sandwiches, or at least food that can be eaten at room temperature.
Part of knowing what to eat when nauseous is knowing what not to eat. In this case, you should avoid foods with strong smells or flavors as well as anything unduly heavy or food that is overly-stimulating in general. This means erring away from fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, carbonation, spicy foods, or anything that can be considered “greasy”.
Other Treatment Steps
When looking for how to treat nausea, diet alone is not the only option. There are certain steps you can take alongside diet adjustments that will help make symptoms more manageable while you and your doctor work to resolve the underlying problem making you sick in the first place.
- Eat six to eight small meals per day rather than three big ones
- Avoid eating in stuffy or warm rooms since this can make your stomach feel worse
- Sit up for at least an hour after eating
- If you must lie down, make sure to keep your head raised
- Avoid environments with strong smells
- Should you vomit, a solution of 1 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp salt, and four cups warm water can help rinse out any bad tastes. Slosh it about and spit when done
- Distractions like movie, TV, or just reading or surfing the web can help psychologically minimize nausea
- If you have anti-nausea medication, it should be taken when the nausea first starts instead of only when you begin feeling sick and queasy
- Remember that most anti-nausea medications can take up to an hour to start working
Should you vomit three or more times in one day, find yourself unable to keep any food or liquids down, develop weakness, stomach pain, or a fever, or have gone eight hours without peeing, medical attention is strongly advised.