Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are two of the better-known side effects of chemotherapy. If you are struggling in this area do speak with your oncologist as there are a number of modern drugs that usually help in most cases. What can you do if the drugs are not enough? 

  • Chilled foods and drinks, or foods at room temperature may be more appealing, such as sandwiches, crackers, salads, cheese, meat platters, fruits, ices and desserts, ice suckers and cold drinks. These shouldn’t stimulate the sense of smell, which can make nausea worse. Fluids can be sipped through a straw to reduce odour.
  • Keeping meals dry. Do not serve liquids with meals. Rather serve them half an hour before or after a meal. Fluids, especially sweet ones, when taken in combination with food, may aggravate nausea.
  • Have smaller, more regular, meals. You are less likely to feel nauseous when the amount of food in the stomach is reduced.
  • If you are feeling nauseous early in the morning, eat something dry for example dry toast, plain biscuits or cream crackers. 
  • Sipping a fizzy drink slowly through a straw often makes a person feel better. Ginger ale, ginger beer, soda water and citrus-flavoured soft drinks are often the best tolerated.
  • Savoury and salty foods may be better tolerated than sweet foods, for example cheese biscuits, salty soups, Bovril, Marmite and chicken or beef broths.
  • Sometimes sour foods with acidic flavours, such as lemon, grapefruit or sour pickle, help to reduce nausea. 
  • Mint has also been proven to help reduce nausea. 
  • Avoid fatty and fried foods.
  • Avoid foods with overpowering aromas, such as curry and garlic, as these may exacerbate nausea.

Written by Mare Worthmann