What is nausea?
No one likes feeling nauseated. Nausea is that feeling that comes from deep in your stomach and works its way into your throat. It makes you feel like you need to vomit.
Nausea is common. It can affect you if you’re experiencing a medical condition or if you sit in the backseat of a car for too long.
Even if you experience these feelings, you will need to eat a meal or snack to maintain your energy sooner or later. Eating small portions of light and healthy food could help cure that sick feeling and get you back to your usual self.
Nausea is the feeling that you will vomit soon. Most people experience it at some point in their lives, and up to 50% of adults experience it at least once every year.
While some people won’t be affected by nausea all that much, there are groups of people that it affects for months at a time.
People most affected by nausea have the following conditions:
- Motion sickness
- Metabolic disorders
- Migraines and consistent headaches
- Gut and digestive disorders
If you take certain medications, nausea can be an unwelcome side effect:
15 healthy foods to eat when nausea strikes
It can be hard to make healthy choices when you feel nauseated. Here are 15 healthy options to help you on your way:
- Dry toast and crackers. Dry, starchy toast and crackers in small amounts can be an excellent place to start. These carbs will give you a feeling of fullness which can make you feel more stable in the stomach.
- Plain yogurt. Yogurt is easy to swallow and digest. It also contains protein. Plain yogurt has a certain tartness which could be more appealing than a sweet, flavored option.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is full of fiber, carbohydrates, and nutrients. It can give you energy and be prepared in minutes if you don’t feel like spending too long in the kitchen. Serving it plain and bland is also an option if you aren’t in the mood for flavor.
- Rice. White rice is a simple carbohydrate that’s easy to digest. It can ease symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
- Skinless chicken. Baked or broiled chicken is a great source of protein and can help you maintain energy in a healthy way when you’re nauseated. Remove the skin and skip extra seasoning to create a bland dish compatible with an unstable stomach.
- Fruit juices. Drinking fruit juices can help you hydrate and replace vitamins and minerals lost when vomiting. Make sure to choose a juice that’s all or mostly real fruit juice instead of a sugary substitute.
- Citrus fruits. Puckery citrus fruits like lemon and lime have benefited pregnant people suffering from nausea. Add a few slices to your water for flavor. Oranges and grapefruit cut into small pieces can be ultra refreshing, too.
- Ginger. Ginger has been used as a household remedy for nausea for centuries. Although today’s researchers are conflicted on whether it works, some people swear by it. Buy it in tablets, add it to veggies or rice, or chop it up and chew it straight.
- Bananas. Bananas are high in potassium, a significant electrolyte that can help you rehydrate. They’re easy to digest and contain natural sugar to give you energy.
- Applesauce. Applesauce is the final food in the BRAT diet: Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These four foods have been shown to ease stomach symptoms and go easy on your digestive tract.
- Broth. Chicken or vegetable broth can be an easy way to give yourself some nutrients and energy while feeling nauseated. They often contain sodium and potassium, which helps you rehydrate.
- Chilled or frozen foods. If you’re not able to stomach fruits or juices in their normal form, why not try them chilled? Frozen fruit pops, grapes, or even ice chips might appeal to nausea sufferers. They go down slowly while giving you the nutrients they offer.
- Potatoes. Potatoes are bland, starchy, and easy to make. Try a little boiled potato to get your appetite going. They also contain vitamins C, B, and potassium. Who knew?
- Fruit sorbet. Sorbet, also called sherbet, is a blended mix of frozen fruits. It can be made by mixing whichever pre-frozen fruits you want in a blender, freezing, and storing them in the freezer. Sorbet is a great way to get your fiber and vitamins.
- Water and electrolyte replacements. Vomiting and nausea often go hand in hand. Vomiting can be very dehydrating, so sip water slowly between rounds of illness if you can. You can also add electrolyte powder mixes to your water to rehydrate faster.
It’s best to talk to your doctor if you can’t keep any food down for longer than two days. A liquid diet usually isn’t enough to keep you healthy, even if it does include water.
Nausea and Pregnancy
Most pregnant people experience some level of nausea in the first three months. The symptoms can be so intense that even food you once loved can make you gag. Plain crackers and bland food can become choice snack options
Reducing intake of citrus, pulses and beans, vegetables, tea, and coffee during pregnancy can increase nausea in some cases.
Foods to avoid when nauseated
Bland, easy-to-digest foods are recommended for a reason. They’re more likely to stay in your stomach where you want them.
Foods that are spicy, greasy, fried, or very sweet will usually have the opposite effect. They’re likely to promote nausea.
Some tips to help you eat healthily while battling nausea:
- Eat small amounts frequently
- Temperature matters. Eating cold or room temperature foods can be more appetizing than hot foods
- Rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after eating to remove any food tastes
- Stay in a cool area after eating
- Keep your head elevated above the rest of your body after eating to help digestion and reduce nausea
Cleveland Clinic: "When Should You Follow the BRAT Diet?"
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting: A Narrative Review to Inform Dietetics Practice."
Maternal & child nutrition: "Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: Effects on food intake and diet quality."
Stanford Medicine: "Nutrition Services for Cancer Patients."
StatPearls: "Ginger Root."
Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology: "Nausea: a review of pathophysiology and therapeutics."
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