Tips for Managing an Upset Stomach


Coping with nausea/vomiting/dehydration and a queasy stomach can be a challenge for cancer patients. Here are some tips for preventing and managing an upset stomach.

Tips to Avoid Nausea

  • Take anti-nausea medication as directed, 30 to 60 minutes before eating.
  • Contact your healthcare team if nausea worsens and you are unable to eat or drink.
  • Try bland, easy-to-digest foods. See the lists below for some ideas.
  • Try eating food that has cooled off or is at room temperature to avoid strong odors.
  • Avoid greasy or fatty foods.
  • Avoid foods that are hard to digest like cantaloupe, dried beans/legumes, broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage.
  • Add water to juices or other sweetened beverages.
  • Try citrus flavored foods or drinks (like lemon or lime).
  • Make sure you get enough fluids. Try to drink 8 oz. of fluid every hour to prevent getting dehydrated.
  • Eat small meals/snacks throughout the day

Drinks and Fluids That Can Help Avoid Dehydration

  • Water and seltzer water.
  • Weak tea and herbal teas (chamomile, peppermint, or ginger).**
  • Fruit juice — half water, half juice may be better tolerated.
  • Strained lemonade and citrus juices. *
  • Popsicles and water ice .**
  • Broth, bouillon, and consommé. * & **
  • Jell-O®.
  • Soda (Ginger ale, Coke) at room temperature, — flat (no bubbles) may be better tolerated.
  • Zero or low calorie sports drinks, like PoweradeZero®, G2®, or Propel®.*
  • Coconut water.*

*These drinks contain sodium and potassium and can help replace lost electryolytes.

** Better choices if you have mouth sores.

Examples of Bland Foods

Sweet

Apple sauce
Angel food cake
Ginger snap cookie or ginger candies
Sorbets, sherbet, ice cream, or frozen yogurt
Custard or puddings (vanilla or rice)
Almond butter on raisin toast
Peppermint candies

Savory

Eggs
Saltines
Noodles (plain, with butter, or in broth)
Chicken breast
Turkey breast
Mild Cheeses, like string cheese/cheese sticks
Sliced ham
Salted nuts

Salty

Saltines
Cooked cereals (Cream of Rice/Wheat or oatmeal)
Refined cereals (Corn Flakes® or Rice Krispies®)
Rice Cakes
White rice
Bagel with cream cheese
Cheese and crackers
Peanut butter crackers
Soft pretzels
Peanut butter with crackers or toast

Be sure to talk with your healthcare team if you are unable to hold down any foods/liquids for 12 hours. Be sure to take any prescribed medications to combat nausea. If you are having ongoing troubles with nausea, talk with your care team about a referral to a registered dietician who can provide more guidance to help manage your symptoms.