Nutritional Management of Nausea/Vomiting During Cancer Treatment
Nutritional management of treatment side effects
There is more to nutrition during cancer and cancer therapy than getting enough calories
and protein. The foods you choose also help you cope with side effects, such as loss
of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chewing and swallowing difficulties, and
As each person's individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his
or her reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent. Be sure
to discuss with your cancer care team possible side effects of treatment before the
Nutritional management of nausea and vomiting
If you have nausea and vomiting, choose foods that are easy to chew, swallow, and
digest, such as the following:
Toast, crackers, and pretzels
Angel food cake
Cream of wheat, rice, oatmeal, or grits
Boiled potatoes, rice, or noodles
Skinned chicken that is baked or broiled, not fried
Canned peaches or other soft, bland fruits and vegetables
Clear liquids, such as bouillon; clear carbonated beverages; apple, cranberry, or
grape juice; sports drinks; plain gelatin; popsicles; tea; and water
Try to avoid the following:
Fatty, greasy, or fried foods
Very sweet foods, such as candy or cookies, or cake with icing
Spicy or hot foods
Foods that have a strong odor
Also consider the following to reduce side effects:
Talk with your healthcare provider about taking antinausea medicines at least an hour
Eat small meals often throughout the day.
Eat more of the foods that appeal to you.
Eat in a place that is comfortable; avoid stuffy places that are too warm or have
Drink a half hour before or after meals but not with your meals.
Drink slowly or sip liquids throughout the day. Use a straw if necessary.
Eat your food at room temperature or cooler, rather than hot.
Do not force yourself to eat foods you normally like to eat because it may cause you
to dislike them later when you feel better.
Rest after you eat, but do not lie down; stay upright for at least one hour after
For morning nausea try eating crackers or toast before you get up. Keep them at your
Wear loose-fitting clothes.
If you feel nauseated during treatment, wait a couple of hours before eating.
Keep a diary of when you feel nauseated, how long it lasted, what you ate, and where
you were. Your healthcare provider may need the information to help you better manage
If you vomit, do not eat or drink anything more until the vomiting is under control.
Then try small amounts of clear liquids. Start slowly with little sips.
Once you can drink clear liquids without vomiting, continue by switching to full-liquid
or soft foods such as fruit juices and nectars, milk, pudding, plain gelatin, cooked
cereal, ice cream, custard, strained or blenderized soup, potatoes pureed in soup, and
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider or registered dietitian if you have nausea
or vomiting because there are a number of different things he or she may recommend
It is important during cancer treatment to get enough calories, protein, and nutrients.
This may be especially hard if you have nausea and vomiting. If you find you cannot
get enough calories in a day, your healthcare provider may recommend commercially
prepared liquid nutritional products for a short time until you feel better.