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Published on February 01, 2013

Manage Nausea and Increase Your Appetite During Cancer Treatment

Nausea is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. You may also experience other symptoms, such as a feeling of fullness, no appetite, a change in the way foods taste, heartburn or feeling tired.

Manage Nausea

These simple steps often go far in helping you cope with the nausea associated with chemotherapy or radiation:

  • Avoid strong-smelling foods, which can bring on nausea.
  • Rinse your mouth with mouth wash to eliminate any bad taste.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t bind or add stress to your body.
  • Find what foods taste good to you now.

If you have just experienced nausea and/or vomiting:

  • Take small sips of fluids or suck on ice chips. This can help settle your stomach.
  • Eat crackers or toast.
  • Prepare mild foods when starting to put nutrition back into your stomach.

Increase Your Appetite

It is important to do your best to maintain a nutritious diet during and after cancer treatment. Eating right doesn’t just make you feel better; it is important for your overall health and recovery. I suggest the following tips.

  • Eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day rather than two or three big meals.
  • Have snacks between meals. Keep snacks handy. People tend to eat more when food is readily available.
  • Establish a pattern of eating meals and snacks at the same time each day. Stick to this schedule, even when you are not hungry.
  • At times when your appetite is not good, rely on foods you really enjoy.
  • If you cannot eat enough food to maintain your weight, try high-calorie, high-protein drinks.

Talk with your health care team about anti-nausea medications to ease or prevent symptoms. At most cancer treatment centers part of your health care team includes a dietitian or a nutritionist to help you.

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