Foods for Nausea – What To Eat and Avoid When Nauseous

Nausea is a feeling of wanting to vomit and occurs as a symptom in many different diseases. It is understandable that most people will not want to eat any food when nauseous. Often the thought, sight or smell of food may worsen the nausea and even lead to vomiting. However, when nausea is persistent for long periods and food is being avoided, then it can lead to a host of other health consequences, such as low blood glucose levels and nutritional deficiencies.

Eating When Nauseous

There is no significant health risk with abstaining from food for short periods – a few hours to even a day – provided that there are no other underlying medical conditions. For most cases of acute nausea, the feeling of wanting to vomit will subside within this period of time. Normal eating habits can then be continued thereafter. However, it is important that fluid intake is still maintained when nauseous, and especially if there have been bouts of vomiting.

Fluid and electrolyte loss due to vomiting, or with accompanying symptoms like diarrhea, can lead to dehydration. Sips of water or preferably an oral rehydrating solution (ORS) may be well tolerated when a person is feeling nausea. In fact the fluid intake may help ease the nausea slightly in some people. Eventually the intake of solid food is necessary but this can be difficult if the nausea has not relieved fully.

Despite feeling like no food will be well tolerated, mot all foods may worsen nausea. Some foods may even help to ease nausea to a some extent. It is important to identify which foods will be well tolerated and even helpful.  The key is to eat small amounts of these foods during the course of the day and drinking plenty of water before, after and in-between these small meals.

BRAT Diet for Nausea

Most people switch to a liquid diet while vomiting persists in conditions like gastroenteritis. The BRAT diet is a widely used approach for re-introducing solid foods after vomiting subsides. It involves eating small amounts of foods that are well tolerated by most people as an intermediary to returning to a normal diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, apples (or applesauce) and toast.

Read more on nausea remedies.

List of Foods for Nausea

The foods recommended in the BRAT diet are discussed below in greater detail. It is important to note that not every person may respond favorably to these foods. Sometimes uncommon foods and herbs may be tolerated by some individuals and can be considered as foods that may assist with nausea.

Bananas

Bananas are one of the foods that are well tolerated in nausea and upon resuming solid foods after bouts of vomiting. In addition, bananas are abundant in potassium which can be lost in large quantities during vomiting or with diarrhea. The bananas should be mashed or chewed thoroughly before swallowing if served whole. It should be at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Rice

Plain rice is another well tolerated food and part of the recommendations of the BRAT diet. The rice may be salted but no other additives should be added. Butter, spices or flavored broths should not be immediately added to the rice upon the first few servings. However, if the rice does not worsen nausea or trigger vomiting then these added substanes may be mixed with the rice. Very hot rice should be avoided even if a person can tolerate the heat.

Apples

Apples is the other food that is widely advised as part of the BRAT diet. Most of the time it is applesauce that is recommended but when it is not available or not well tolerated then grated apples should be considered. As with other foods, apples that are at room temperature or slightly chilled is advisable. Apples are high in fiber and this may also help with easing nausea although very high fiber intake may have the opposite effect.

Toast

Plain toast is the last of the foods recommended according to the BRAT diet. It should not be buttered or have any other foods addded to it, such as marmalade or peanut butter. However , if plain toast does not worsen nausea or trigger vomiting then small amounts of these other foods can be gradually introduced with the toast. Avoid “heavy” or “dense” breads initially as these breads may irritate the gut.

Other Foods

Several other foods, other than those prescribed in the BRAT diet, should also be tried during nausea. Individual tolerance may vary and small amounts should not be a problem for most people. These other foods may include:

  • Crackers: Dry, salted crackers.
  • Nuts: Any nuts, either unsalted or salted but with no other additives.
  • Ginger: Ginger tea, ginger ale or ginger cookies.
  • Mint:  Mint tea or a sprig of mint.

All of these foods and herbs should be consumed in very small quantities initially. Some of these foods or herbas may not be well tolerated by some people and could worsen nausea. In these cases it should be stopped altogether.

Read more on how to stop vomiting.

Do’s and Don’ts for Nausea

  • Eat small amounts of the above mentioned foods every 1 to 2 hours. Ensure that sufficient fluid is consumed after eating these foods but try to leave at least a 30 minute gap between eating food and drinking fluids.
  • Maintain fluids intake even once solid foods can be consumed. Water, sports drinks and commercial oral rehydrating solutions are advisable. Avoid sodas until proper rehydration has been accomplished.
  • Start eating a bland and balanced diet as soon as possible if the initial foods described above are well tolerated in that it does not worsen nausea or trigger vomiting.
  • Avoid processed, spicy and/or greasy foods until normal eating habits have been restored. Also avoid foods with strong or unusual tastes and odors.
  • Moderate the heating of foods that are to be consumed. Room temperature and cold foods tend to be better tolerated than hot foods.
  • Do not lie down flat after eating. Stay upright and maintain moderate physical activity after eating so as to assist with movement of the food through the gut.

 

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