This post was originally published in November 2013.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and certain medications can take a toll on patients, with side effects such as nausea. Although you may experience a loss of appetite during treatment, it is important to find ways to give your body the nutrients it needs.
Here are simple strategies to help you manage nausea.
- Eat or drink ginger.
There is evidence that ginger can help settle your stomach, so try incorporating it into your meals and drinks in the form of ginger tea, fresh ginger root and lemon tea, ginger chews, or ginger ale. Try our ginger crinkle cookies for a nausea-fighting treat.
- Drink lemonade or lemon water.
Lemons are a natural nausea-reliever. Staying hydrated can often be a challenge during treatment, especially when plain water is not always appealing. Try an infused water, or ginger-zapped lemonade, which incorporates lemons and ginger to reduce queasiness. You can also add a slice of fresh lemon to your glass of water.
- Incorporate fresh lemon into meals.
Lemons can be a flavorful addition to many dishes. Adding lemon to protein-rich dishes, such as fish or chicken, helps improve the smell and flavor of your meals, which makes them more appealing when you’re nauseous or don’t have much appetite. Our whole roasted tarragon chicken is one way to incorporate lemons into a tasty meal.
- Eat a small portion of potatoes.
Potatoes, including baked, sweet, roasted, and yes, even potato chips, eaten in small amounts, can help to reduce nausea. Enjoy a few chips with a healthy snack, such as our three seed hummus, or alongside a small meal.
- Control the room where you are eating.
Make sure the room where you’re eating meals is comfortable, whether it is your own dining room, kitchen, or hospital room. Try to create an inviting and calm ambiance to whatever extent you can. Control the temperature and air circulation, and seek out a room that is free of odors that may cause nausea.
Dana-Farber’s nutritionists can advise you on the nutrients you need during and after treatment. Visit the Nutrition Services website for more information on nutrition resources, meal planning, and healthy recipes. You can also download the Dana-Farber Ask the Nutritionist: Recipes for Fighting Cancer app for iPhone or Android devices.