Nutrition for Nausea

I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday with nausea. I’ll spare you the details of what happened next, but I think you can connect the dots. It wasn’t pretty and kept me home from work, in bed, eating saltines, and drinking Gingerale.

So many people, my dad included, think that the job of a dietitian is to always educate people on and be a role model for healthy eating. But what do I do when I feel nauseous? Or when my patients feel nauseous? I sure as heck don’t tell them to eat their fruits and vegetables.

First and foremost, ditch the diet or rigid rules. If you force yourself to eat something nothing good is going to come of it. Focus on foods that sound good and are well tolerated, usually this includes bland foods and lots of carbohydrates (aka your body’s main source of fuel). I usually eat toast with butter, plain pasta, saltines, or peanut butter and jelly. But it could look completely different for someone else.

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Next, stay hydrated. It doesn’t need to be water because often that sounds and tastes disgusting, but maybe you can flavor it with some electrolytes like powdered Pedialyte or Liquid IV! I’ve come to love these products after a night of drinking and they work wonders after a night of…well, you know. I prefer bubbles so I drink seltzer water or diet soda. And sometimes it’s actual soda full of sugar, but it’s the only thing that settles my stomach. Accepted and moving on.

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My other advice is to capitalize when you’re feeling best. If you’re most nauseous at night then eat more earlier in the day or vice versa. Maybe you can’t stomach a meal, but snacks more frequently throughout the day do no harm. Listen to your body and do just that.

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Its okay to skimp on the fruits and vegetables for a few days. It’s okay to only eat carbs and butter. It’s okay to drink real soda. You’re giving your body something to heal when literally everything is fighting against you. Sometimes you have to think of food as medicine and sometimes you have to choose the medicine that will go down and stay down even if it isn’t the healthiest. But nutrition when you’re sick no matter what it is is actually the healthiest thing you can do. So just eat and save the fruits and vegetables for when you feel better, life will go on.