Chemo Nausea Relief: What to Eat When You're Feeling Queasy

Diet for Chemo Patients with Nausea | What Foods Are Good for Cancer Patients with No Appetite? | What Are the Best Foods to Eat While on Chemotherapy? | Foods to Avoid While on Chemo | What Makes Nausea Better

Diet for Chemo Patients with Nausea

If you are undergoing cancer treatment, eating well is essential. This will maintain your weight, improve your immunity, strengthen your bones, skin, and teeth, as well as improving your eyesight and dental health. Leading to fewer side effects and delays in your treatment.

What Foods Are Good for Cancer Patients with No Appetite?

You should not be hard on yourself if you are unable to eat for a few days following  treatment, because you can compensate for the calories you lose between treatments. In times when you are very ill, it is recommended that your stomach is not completely empty as this can cause you to become even more nauseated. You are encouraged to eat every 2-3 hours, as this will help reduce the side effect.

In order to overcome the challenge, one solution can be to eat small snacks instead of three large meals. If you choose to eat plain, simple foods or foods that do not have strong smells, such as crackers, toast, fruit, and yogurt, you will be able to eat easily.

What Are the Best Foods to Eat While on Chemotherapy?

  • Ginger Biscuits
    It contains bioactive compounds, such as gingerol, paradol and shogaol. These compounds are thought to interact with your central nervous system and stomach to improve nausea symptoms.
  • Plain Dry Foods
    Dry foods such as crackers, pretzels, toast and cereals are easy to eat due to no strong smells or tastes that can trigger nausea.
  • Cold Foods
    You may tolerate cold foods better than warm dishes. That’s because they generally have weak odours. Try yoghurt, jelly or fruit. 
  • Soup
    Fluids are better tolerated when you’re nauseated. Soup provides hydration and electrolytes, which are particularly helpful if you have vomited.
  • Soft Energy-Dense Foods
    It’s important that the foods you eat are nutritious and provide energy to help your body stay strong and recover. This includes avocados, porridge, stewed fruits, mashed potatoes, peanut butter and bananas.
  • Starchy Foods
    Starchy, plain foods like rice, potatoes and noodles are suitable choices. They’re easy to prepare, high in calories and settle your stomach.
  • Protein Rich Foods
    It’s unclear why protein affects nausea. The hypothesis is that it helps normalise stomach activity by increasing the secretion of the hormone gastrin. Protein is a macronutrient, which helps keep your body strong and reduces the risk of malnutrition.

Foods to Avoid While on Chemo

When undergoing chemotherapy, it's crucial to pay close attention to your diet to help your body cope with the treatment's side effects. Certain foods should be avoided to minimise additional stress on your system. Raw or undercooked eggs, meat, and fish can carry harmful bacteria, risking your weakened immune system. It's also wise to steer clear of unpasteurised dairy products and juices, as these can contain harmful microbes. Foods that are very spicy, greasy, or high in fat can exacerbate nausea and digestive discomfort, common side effects of chemotherapy.

Additionally, alcohol and caffeine may need to be limited or avoided, as they can contribute to dehydration and interact negatively with some chemotherapy drugs. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a dietitian can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs and treatment plan.

For more information, read the following guide: Food safety for cancer treatment: Why do I need to be careful?

It is also important to keep in mind when you feeling sick, your mind may trigger a negative experience with a particular food, which is called anticipatory nausea and vomiting. You can find the blog here: ANTICIPATORY NAUSEA AND VOMITING (ANV)

What Makes Nausea Better

  • Talk to your Doctor about Nausea Medications
    The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor if you are really struggling, they may be able to prescribe you different sickness medicines to try. It's best to take your sickness medication about an hour before eating, so that you can eat as much as possible and fully enjoy your meal.
  • Avoid Warm Foods
    Cold foods like yogurt and ice cream are often well tolerated. Less risk of cooking smells to trigger nausea. 
  • Eat What You Want!
    Don’t try to force yourself to eat a meal that causes your stomach to turn at the thought of it. It might be something healthy but it is more important you can eat than risking vomiting.
  • Drink Liquids in-Between Meals/Snacks
    Don't drink too much water, as this will make you feel fuller and make eating harder. 
  • Avoid Mixing Hot & Cold Foods
    This can increase nausea. 
  • Have Several Small Meals/Snacks
    Having large meals can be overwhelming. Try breaking your meals into 6 small ones throughout the day. 
  • Eat and Drink Slowly in Small Amounts
    This allows you to relax during meals. You may also want to avoid consuming liquids and solids at the same time.
  • Do Not Lie Flat After Eating
    Avoid lying down for at least 30 minutes after eating, as this can put pressure on your stomach.
  • Avoid Food Preparation
    Strong smells from cooking can worsen nausea. 
  • Keep Your Mouth Clean
    Nausea and vomiting can leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, which may prevent you from eating. Rinse and brush your teeth regularly.

For more tips on managing nausea and optimising your well being during cancer treatment, explore our comprehensive guide on 'Managing Side Effects of Chemotherapy: A Comprehensive Guide'. Empower yourself with practical strategies to improve your cancer journey. 

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