Chronic illness and the medications we take can cause us to experience symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. I’ve certainly encountered those times when I needed some food in my stomach, but nothing appealed to me — especially not the traditional “bland” foods.
Here are a few food items that can help significantly with nausea and have a stomach-calming effect:
Ginger – Ginger is a natural antiemetic that can help reduce the queasy feeling. Be sure if you choose ginger ale that it actually has ginger as an ingredient since some of the best-selling brands are simply ginger flavored. There are several brands such as Reed’s which do contain a potent dose of ginger. You may also find ginger candies, ginger tea (I love the Yogi brand), and pickled ginger to work for you. Ginger root, which is located in the produce department, can be helpful as well. After peeling the ginger root, you can slice off a piece and chew on it to help settle your stomach.
Peppermint – Many people find relief in the form of peppermint — whether it’s peppermint tea or hard candies. You will find a variety of both available in most grocery stores. Peppermint oil can also help reduce nausea and can be found in natural foods stores.
Sour candies – Some people react positively to sour tastes when nausea hits, and candies such as lemon drops can ease GI symptoms. While Preggie Pops are marketed toward women who are suffering from morning sickness, people with chemotherapy-induced and other types of nausea have found these candies quite effective in battling the queasies. If you can’t find Preggie Pops in your area, you can try my personal favorite: Sour Patch Kids.
Now that your nausea is somewhat better, what to eat? Of course the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce & toast) is highly recommended. But that can get boring very quickly!
Here are some additional options that may appeal to you when you are feeling yucky but think your food may stay put:
- Broth (chicken, beef or vegetable) and saltines or oyster crackers
- Eggs cooked without butter or oil
- Potatoes – boiled, baked, mashed or roasted (without the skin)
- Oatmeal or cream of wheat
- Baked chicken
- Baked tofu cubes
- Sweet potatoes (without the skin)
- Rice cakes
- Clear soups such as chicken noodle or matzoh ball
- Baked fish
And there are a few foods to avoid until you are feeling better, including fried, spicy and fatty foods. These are much harder to digest and can irritate your stomach even further.
Many of us choose whole grain and other more lightly-processed foods in order to eat a more healthful diet. But when your stomach is upset, these foods may not be the best choice. It’s OK to revert back to more refined grains for a couple of days until you are feeling better.
I hope these tips help you the next time you are suffering from GI symptoms either from your illness itself or as medication side effects. Please be sure to speak with your doctor or other health professional about any symptoms or side effects you are having and get input regarding foods you should avoid. Keeping your medical professional in the loop is vital to your health!
If you have any tips for battling an upset stomach, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.