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Asked a question 11 months ago

Does anyone know the best way to handle nausea while in cancer treatment?

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Hi Pam,

I found a few resources that shared the following tips for immunotherapy and chemotherapy induced nausea:

  1. Avoid your favorite food. Do not eat your favorite food if you are feeling nauseated. This may create a negative association with that food and the next time you try to eat it, your favorite food may cause you to feel queasy. Rather, have foods that are easy to digest such as crackers, toast, yogurt, potato, broth, or rice.
  2. Talk to your doctor about nausea medications. Common medications for nausea include ondansetron (Zofran) and prochlorperazine maleate (Compazine). It is best to take these medications about an hour before eating. This will help you maximize how much you can eat and allow you to enjoy your meal more.
  3. Avoid strong smells. Half of our taste sensors come from our nose, so avoid the kitchen while your family or friends are cooking (this would be a good time for a nap in your bedroom). Open a window to help neutralize any smells.
  4. Avoid warm foods. Cold foods like yogurt and ice cream are often well tolerated. Try letting your warm food cool down for 30 minutes before eating (this will also allow more time to pass when airing out the kitchen). If you cannot wait, place your warm dish in a large bowl of ice to it cool down quickly.
  5. Eat every 2-3 hours. Sometimes an empty stomach causes a queasy stomach. Try to not let your stomach get completely empty by snacking on pretzels, crackers, toast, yogurt, cheese, or a milkshake.
  6. Eat what you want to eat. If you feel like having macaroni and cheese, and that appeals to you, then by all means, eat some macaroni and cheese. Breakfast food for dinner? Go for it! Don’t try to force yourself to eat a meal that causes your stomach to turn at the thought of it. Some patients are turned off by salty foods, some by sweet foods. Some patients find that everything tastes very bland and enjoy extra herbs or spices. Adjust how your food is prepared so that is appeals to you. This is not a one size fits all approach to eating.
  7. Drink liquids in-between meals/snacks. Filling your stomach up with liquids during mealtime there will be less room for food! You will feel full faster if you drink too much with your meals. Staying hydrated is important, so sip on liquids in between your meals. Small sips during meal times should be well tolerated.
  8. Use ginger and peppermint. Ginger and peppermint are age old remedies used for treating nausea. Make a cup of ginger or peppermint tea, or purchase ginger or peppermint candies. Put a drop of peppermint essential oil on a tissue and bring it with you to inhale. If you know you like the scent of peppermint, you could put a drop underneath the collar of your shirt or pin a handkerchief with a drop underneath your shirt. Caution: make sure you find the smell of something pleasant before putting it on your clothing.



If you have any changes in the way you feel, it’s important to discuss those changes with your health care team.

  • Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
  • Getting medical treatment right away may help keep these problems from becoming more serious.
Does anyone know the best way to handle nausea while in cancer treatment?


For mild diarrhea:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, dairy, fat, fiber, orange juice, prune juice, and spicy foods.
  • Drink lots of water and other clear liquids. Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Always ask your health care team for more tips on what to do about diarrhea.

For nausea:

  • Instead of 3 large meals a day, eat 6 to 8 snacks.
  • Eat dry foods such as crackers or dry cereal.
  • Avoid hot, spicy foods and stay away from foods that are overly sweet or greasy.
  • Drink or sip clear liquids frequently.
  • Ask your health care team about other ways you may be able to handle nausea.
Does anyone know the best way to handle nausea while in cancer treatment?


Nutrition is important for everyone. But if you are receiving treatment, there are even more reasons to eat a healthy diet. When you eat well, it may give you more strength. Your health care team may have more suggestions for how to eat healthier.

  • Eat at least 2½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Limit high-fat foods such as those from animal sources.
  • Keep different types of protein-rich snacks on hand, such as low-fat yogurt or hearty soup.
  • Avoid salty foods.
Does anyone know the best way to handle nausea while in cancer treatment?


Most people who are receiving treatment feel tired. To help you feel less tired, try these tips. Ask your health care team for more ideas.

  • Eat healthy foods. This may help keep you strong and maintain your weight.
  • Take it easy and rest if you need to.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Talk to your health care team, friends, and family.
Does anyone know the best way to handle nausea while in cancer treatment?


When you are receiving treatment, you may not always feel your best. However, exercise may help lessen some of your symptoms, including fatigue and nausea. Before you start a new exercise program, talk to your health care team.

  • Talk to your health care team about your goals.
  • Start slowly with an activity such as walking, especially if you haven’t been active for a while.
  • Try short periods of exercise. Rest often and drink lots of water.
  • Have fun by doing the things you enjoy.
  • Speak with your health care team about trying something different. And always remember to speak with your health care team before making any additions or changes to your exercise routine.


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