Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint the cause of nausea, though it could be anything from morning sickness during pregnancy or migraines to motion sickness, food poisoning, acid reflux or certain medications.
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There are foods to eat to prevent vomiting, but if symptoms persist, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Read more: Causes of Vomiting and Severe Stomach Cramps
Food for Nausea
When it comes to food for nausea and upset stomach, bland foods are best when feeling nauseated, as strongly flavored food may stimulate the stomach and cause vomiting. Greasy, high-fat foods have also been known to increase GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and nausea. The best type of food to eat to prevent vomiting is food that is low in fat, contains some salt and is not overly spicy or sweet.
Foods such as saltine crackers, unsweetened cereal, rice, dry toast or plain oatmeal are all bland and quickly digested by the stomach. As a general rule of thumb, the Cleveland Clinic advises following the BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce and toast — if you're trying to avoid vomiting.
The foods in the BRAT diet are low in fiber and are easily digested. Bananas are also high in potassium which helps to replace some of the electrolytes lost if you have been vomiting and are trying to resolve symptoms.
If you're suffering from morning sickness due to pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association recommends eating foods that are rich in vitamin B6, such as whole-grain wheat products, other cereals, bananas and papayas.
The smell of food can also bring on a bout of vomiting if you're feeling symptoms of nausea. Avoid strong-smelling foods like fish, heavily seasoned meals and fried foods. It's also important to avoid your favorite foods when you're feeling nauseated. If you end up vomiting, you may ruin your favorite dish.
Read more: Foods to Avoid When Vomiting
Eat Smaller Meals
When you have nausea, it is important to eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day to prevent vomiting, according to University of California San Francisco. Smaller portions of food expand the stomach less, are easier to digest and move through the digestive tract faster than larger meals. Consuming smaller meals also reduces your risk of developing GERD-like symptoms, including heartburn, mild chest pain and discomfort while feeling nauseated.
However, it's still important to meet your daily calorie needs. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, estimates that adult women need 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, and men need 2,000 to 3,000 to meet daily needs.
To avoid vomiting, split your meals into six to eight small meals spread throughout the day. This will help you meet your daily requirements while allowing your stomach to process small meals quickly. Also, avoiding drinking liquids immediately before or after a meal will let your food digest before adding additional volume to the stomach.
Get Enough Fluids
Staying hydrated is also important while feeling nausea, especially if you have been vomiting, as you lose more fluids. Drink water or other clear, cool beverages. Non-caffeinated carbonated beverages such as ginger ale have also been known to help avoid vomiting symptoms. Keep in mind that the amount of water you drink is influenced by your local climate, activity level and personal needs. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already slightly dehydrated.
Consuming clear broths, flavored gelatin or ice pops is a great way to help meet your daily calorie and fluid needs. It's essential to note that consuming liquids during meal times is not recommended. Try to get your liquids in 30 to 60 minutes before and after meals.
Is This an Emergency?
- MedlinePlus: "Nausea and Vomiting"
- UCSF Health: "Diet Modifications for Nausea and Vomiting"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)"
- American Pregnancy Association: "Natural Sources of Vitamin B6 During Pregnancy"
- MyPlate.gov: "10 Tips: Make Better Beverage Choices"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dehydration"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Mom’s Advice Is Still the Best for Treating Diarrhea"