Foods for nausea: 5 foods to eat when you're feeling unwell
It can be difficult to predict or prevent, but there are things we can do to manage nausea.
Feeling nauseous is never pleasant.
Whether it's due to an upset stomach, pregnancy, motion sickness or a change in medication, most of us have experienced nausea and vomiting at some point in the past, and probably will again at some point in the future.
It can be difficult to predict or prevent, but there are a couple of things we can do to manage nausea when we feel it coming on.
Certain foods can relieve nausea, while others can actually aggravate stomach discomfort or make nausea and vomiting worse. Read on and learn which are the best and worst foods for nausea.
What is nausea?
Nausea is, to put it simply, the feeling you get if you think you're going to vomit . The sensation is often described as an unpleasant and unsettled feeling in the stomach or queasiness, and may or may not actually lead to being sick .
Both children and adults experience nausea and vomiting, and they're not necessarily contagious or a disease, but can be a symptom of a number of things (more on that below). Depending on the cause, an upset stomach can also be accompanied by diarrhoea or fever .
What causes nausea?
There are several things that can trigger nausea and vomiting, and different things are likely to trigger nausea symptoms for different people. It can have a medical cause, such as a concussion, gut diseases, gastritis, or ulcers, or it can be a simple case of food poisoning, overeating, or drinking too much alcohol .
For those undergoing cancer treatment, experiencing nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy or radiation therapy is also common.
Pregnant women will often suffer from nausea and vomiting in the form of morning sickness (which can actually take place at any time of day) due to changes in hormones, blood pressure, and carbohydrate metabolism .
Nausea and vomiting are also common symptoms of motion sickness when travelling on a boat or by plane, or going on rides and rollercoasters.
Finally, nausea can be a side effect of a new medication. For example, you may experience temporary nausea when you start Juniper's Weight Reset Program. This happens because the medication used in the program is designed to suppress appetite, slow the rate of your stomach emptying, and improve metabolic function.
In the long run, this helps you lose weight and keep it off, but in the beginning, your body may need time to adjust to the treatment.
While it is common to experience some nausea or discomfort when starting this medication, these symptoms should be easy to manage and gradually decrease as therapy continues. We recommend speaking to a health practitioner if you're experiencing ongoing issues, or would like professional help treating nausea.
What to eat when nauseous
So, now that we know what nausea is and some of its causes, you might be wondering what you can do to treat it.
While the best treatments will vary depending on the cause (for example, food poisoning and motion sickness will have different solutions), there are some things you can eat and drink that can help relieve nausea, satisfy hunger and improve your stomach lining when you're feeling queasy.
Bland foods and starchy foods
Ordinarily, a bland diet is not ideal, but when you're attempting to relieve nausea, it can be helpful . Things like mashed potatoes, porridge, or toast tend to be the easiest to keep down.
Baked or grilled plain protein-rich foods will be much easier on your stomach and digestive tract when you're ill than a curry, stir fry, or anything cooked in oil or spices. Opt for some chicken, tofu, or a little low-salt chicken broth .
Water and herbal teas
Dehydration is common during bouts of sickness, but if you're trying to relieve nausea it's important to ensure you stay hydrated. This doesn't necessarily mean gulping down litres of water, but just making sure to take small sips throughout the day .
If you're struggling to drink regular water, small amounts of sweet beverages such as coconut water or apple juice might be beneficial, along with mint tea or other herbal teas.
In addition to water or tea, many people find ginger beer and other carbonated drinks or flat lemonade can help reduce nausea. Sports drinks or electrolyte-rich beverages such as coconut water can also be helpful to ensure you stay hydrated when you're feeling sick.
Despite what it might sound like, this diet is not designed for badly behaved children, nor does it involve eating large amounts of bratwurst. Instead, the BRAT diet is actually an acronym and stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast .
The 'BRAT diet' has often been used for children who have been sick, but really it can be helpful for anybody as these foods are easy on your digestive system and can help you hold down water and solid foods if you've been experiencing nausea and vomiting.
What foods should you avoid when nauseous?
In addition to certain foods being beneficial or helping to alleviate nausea, there are also some things that can worsen nausea and vomiting .
These will, of course, vary from person to person, but a few things you should avoid are greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, or anything overly sweet. Dairy and caffeine are also best to be avoided, as they can cause further irritation to an upset stomach.
A couple of other tips that can help nausea are to:
- Avoid skipping meals: If you cannot stomach a large meal, try eating small bites throughout the day
- Don't mix cold and hot foods: If you find hot meals are making your nausea worse, it may be best to primarily eat cold foods
- Make sure you eat slowly: You don't want to overwhelm your already upset stomach
What foods can help with nausea during pregnancy?
Many pregnant women — around half to two-thirds — will experience some form of morning sickness during their pregnancy. Some will feel nauseated, others may experience vomiting as well, and some will develop a more severe condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).
If you're struggling with morning sickness, the general advice is to try and eat a few dry foods (such as salty crackers) first thing in the morning, and to eat small meals regularly as an empty stomach can trigger nausea .
Drinking fluids, particularly orange juice or apple juice and flat carbonated drinks, can also help reduce discomfort.
We recommend speaking to your doctor about your specific symptoms and pregnancy, particularly if you are dealing with chronic nausea or if you suspect you might have HG.
Can nausea be prevented?
Your ability to prevent nausea will depend on the cause. If you're concerned about the possibility of feeling nauseous while on Juniper's Weight Reset Program, you can speak to one of our medical professionals for advice.
If you're prone to nausea due to motion sickness, try taking anti-nausea medication prior to travelling, and make sure to avoid reading or looking at screens while in motion.
Alternatively, if you regularly experience nausea due to other health or lifestyle factors, it may be worth speaking to a health professional about whether there are any changes you can make to improve your well-being.
In the meantime, stock up on cold foods, herbal tea and bland foods — just in case.
Image credit: Getty Images
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