Nutrition Guidelines

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Nutrition Guidelines for Nausea & Vomiting

Nausea is an uncomfortable, unsettling sensation in the stomach that is often accompanied by vomiting.

A number of health conditions may give rise to nausea, including seasickness, chemotherapy, pregnancy, and AIDS/HIV (both the infections caused by AIDS/HIV and the treatments used to combat the disease commonly produce nausea).

Whether or not it is accompanied by vomiting, nausea is also a frequent side effect of chemotherapy and other drug therapies. In some instances sights and/or odors may cause nausea or nausea and vomiting.

If you suffer from nausea or nausea and vomiting that is severe or long-lasting (longer than a week), you should consult your doctor.

But if your symptoms are relatively mild, the simple dietary and behavioral tips listed below may help to relieve your discomfort. Information about alternative therapies for nausea or nausea and vomiting, including the use of specific herbal/natural remedies, is also provided.

Dietary Tips for Nausea & Vomiting

The following diet-related tips may help to prevent or relieve nausea, including nausea that is accompanied by vomiting:

  • Instead of eating three large meals daily, try smaller, more-frequent meals (one every 2-3 hours).

  • Never go for long periods without food; avoiding eating may worsen nausea.

  • Choose meals that are easy and quick to prepare. Sometimes the aroma of cooking foods can cause nausea and even vomiting.

  • Start the day with a banana, cereal (cream of wheat, farina, oatmeal), soft-cooked eggs, toast, or yogurt.

  • For lunch try chicken or tuna salad, cottage cheese and fruit, or broth or clear soup with crackers.

  • For dinner try mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice, with custard, ice cream, gelatin, or pudding for dessert.

  • Before you get out of bed in the morning, try eating a few crackers, a handful of dry cereal, a piece of toast or dry bread, or a slice of ginger. (Remember to put one of these foods within reach of your bed at bedtime.) These foods may help to settle an upset stomach, which is a common discomfort in the morning, when the stomach is empty.

  • Eat a light snack (a small sandwich, bread, or yogurt, and milk or juice) before going to bed or during the night. This also may help to reduce nausea in the morning.

Note: You may need to sit upright for 10-20 minutes following eating in order to prevent gastric reflux.

  • Avoid food and drink containing caffeine. Caffeine can speed up gastrointestinal activity, which can lead to dehydration. Try drinking peppermint tea instead.

  • Drink clear, cold beverages in order to minimize the amount of undigested food in the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Try apple, cranberry, and grape juices; carbonated beverages (ginger ale, lemon-lime soda); strained citrus juices (if tolerated); or fruit punches.

  • Consume such beverages one hour before or after meals instead of with meals in order to avoid feeling bloated. If you are having trouble eating solids, try clear soup or fat-free broth as a meal. 

  • Avoid fried or greasy foods (such as bacon, French fries, fried meats, and pastries), and foods containing large amounts of butter, margarine, mayonnaise, or gravy.

  • Eat unseasoned and mild-flavored foods. Avoid foods prepared with black pepper, chili pepper, garlic, and/or onion.

  • Try frozen fruit-juice bars or pudding pops, or homemade ices made from clear fruit juice or other beverages of your choice. Cold foods may help to soothe your stomach.

Behavioral Tips for Nausea & Vomiting 

Try the following behavioral strategies to prevent or relieve nausea, including nausea that is accompanied by vomiting:

  • When you cook, open windows or use an exhaust fan to minimize food odors.

  • Eat slowly and chew food well. Get in the practice of putting down your fork after every bite, and chew each mouthful at least 10 times.

  • Avoid trying to eat your favorite foods when you are nauseated; to do so may cause you to be turned off by those foods later.

  • Use a straw when drinking beverages that have potentially unpleasant smells.

  • Rest after meals, but do not lie flat for at least two hours after eating; this may help to prevent an upset stomach.  

  • In the morning or after resting, get up slowly from bed and avoid making sudden movements; this will help to prevent dizziness and queasiness.

  • Be sure to have plenty of fresh air in the room in which you sleep.

  • Avoid brushing your teeth when you wake in the morning and immediately after eating.  

  • When you are feeling good, eat complete meals to help tide you over during periods when nausea may reduce your willingness to eat.

  • If any medication you are taking is known to cause nausea, try to take it at a time of day when nausea will not interfere with eating.

Alternative Therapy for Nausea & Vomiting  

Complementary and alternative therapy comprise a wide variety of practices and treatments, including the use of herbal preparations and of vitamin and mineral supplements.

Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, you should be aware that many treatments have not been thoroughly researched and scrutinized for safety and efficacy.

Although some complementary therapies (acupuncture for nausea, for example) have been shown to be safe and efficacious, others (the use of some individual herbs and supplements, high-dose vitamin and mineral regimens, and radical diets) have brought about toxic side effects.

If you prefer alternative therapies, or if you believe that you have exhausted the available therapies of conventional medicine, the information that follows may be helpful to you.

The therapies presented here, however, are by no means intended to replace standard, appropriate medical attention and treatment.

Herbal/Natural Products for Nausea & Vomiting 

The table below provides information about herbal/natural products that may be helpful if you are experiencing nausea or nausea and vomiting.

Note: You should use alternative therapies to treat a specific health condition only after you have received an accurate diagnosis from a qualified doctor or other medical professional.

Remember that good health depends on proper medical care.

Caution: In some cases herbal/natural products may interact negatively with other medications. Such interactions can be dangerous. Herbal/natural remedies are not regulated and their quality is not controlled. Moreover, although an abundant supply of information about alternative treatments and remedies is currently circulating, little of it has been scientifically validated.

Consult your doctor before using any herbal/natural remedy, and remember always to make your doctor and pharmacist aware of any therapeutic products you are using. Your doctor and pharmacist can assist you in determining which herbal/natural products are safe to use with the drugs you are taking. Do not treat infants or children with herbal/natural remedies without a qualified doctor's approval and guidance.

Warning: If you are pregnant and are experiencing morning sickness, ginger is the only herbal/natural product of those listed below that is safe to use to try to relieve your discomfort.

Table 1. Herbal/natural products commonly used in the treatment of nausea or nausea & vomiting.

Herbal/Natural Products

Comments & Cautions

Basil

May help to soothe the stomach. Caution: Avoid especially during early pregnancy.  

Ginger

May help to relieve nausea caused by morning sickness, motion sickness, seasickness, or an upset stomach.

Powdered ginger is more effective than ginger ale and ginger-flavored tea.

If nausea is accompanied by vomiting, try mixing powdered ginger in tea, which can help to replace the fluids lost in vomiting.

Chewing raw ginger is also recommended, because chewing itself has a beneficial effect on nausea.

Parsley

Try chewing raw; chewing itself has a beneficial effect on nausea.

Peppermint

May help to relieve queasiness and to reduce stomach spasms that can lead to vomiting.

Can be used in tea or chewed raw.

Sage  

 

Spearmint 

 

Nutritional Supplements for Nausea & Vomiting 

Whether or not your nausea is accompanied by vomiting, taking nutritional supplements may help both to relieve your discomfort and to meet your body's needs. Nutritional supplements most often come in capsules, pills, and tablets. The following section provides guidelines for recommended daily nutritional supplementation during periods of nausea.  

Vitamins & Minerals  

The daily dose provided for the vitamin in the table below is recommended specifically for people experiencing nausea or nausea and vomiting.  

Table 2. Common vitamin treatment for nausea or nausea & vomiting.

Vitamins & Minerals

Daily Dose & Dosage Information

Comments & Cautions

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

 

Up to 75 milligrams a day  

Has been found to be beneficial in treating nausea during pregnancy.  

Caution: Vitamin B6 supplements should not be taken by people with Parkinson's disease who are being treated with L-dopa; vitamin B6 may diminish the effects of L-dopa in the brain.

Note: Units for nutritional supplements may be given by weight; generally in milligrams (mg) or micrograms (mcg) or by biological activity, which is measured in international units (IU). Use care when comparing products to ensure that the units are identical.


The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer . The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. It should not replaced professional advise and consultation. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions

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