Tips for Managing an Upset Stomach
The Tracey Birnhak Nutritional Counseling Program
December 11th, 2018

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.