Vomiting occurs when the body tries to rid itself of something it believes is causing harm. The gastrointestinal system has likely been irritated somehow, and vomiting is this body’s way of fighting back. Nausea may also be a warning before vomiting, but this doesn't happen for everyone.
You may be asking yourself, what should I eat when vomiting? You should try determining what's causing your vomiting in the first place. Vomiting can have many causes. Some include certain medical conditions, like breast cancer, especially while undergoing chemotherapy, and acid reflux. Other causes can include new medications, dizziness, and morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy. If the cause of your vomiting is related to medications and specific medical conditions, you should consult your doctor for additional options to help relieve the vomiting. Below are some potential food options you can try as well.
What Foods Are Best to Eat When I Am Vomiting?
It can be challenging to satisfy hunger and find foods to eat during bouts of nausea and vomiting. When managing an upset stomach, try to avoid foods high in fat or sugar. If you prefer foods over liquids, try softer foods such as applesauce and bananas. Applesauce can help protect the lining of your stomach, while bananas are high in potassium and can aid in replacing this electrolyte.
You may also want to try toast or rice. These foods are part of the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet, a dietary option that may help relieve your stomach troubles. Other foods that are easy on the stomach include oatmeal, cream of wheat, canned fruits and vegetables, and pudding. You may also try protein-rich foods like peanut butter, skinless chicken, or tofu to soothe your stomach.
Is It Okay to Eat Small Snacks Instead of Full Meals When I Am Vomiting?
When managing episodes of nausea and vomiting, you may still feel hungry. Smaller portions of food may work best. This amount gives the gastrointestinal system time to digest and process what you've eaten. Remember to pay attention to the amount of fat and sugar in those portions. You should also avoid fried foods, as these foods may not be gentle on the stomach. If you decide to eat smaller amounts of food, try to eat more frequently to ensure you get enough calories. When eating, try to eat slowly and avoid liquids with your meals. Wait 30-60 minutes before and after eating to consume beverages.
What Types of Liquids Can I Drink to Help with the Vomiting?
When experiencing nausea or vomiting, consider switching out solid foods for clear liquids. Some options include clear broths, plain water, jello, and popsicles. Another option for a clear liquid is Pedialyte, an over-the-counter electrolyte-rich oral solution used to help replace the electrolytes you may have lost during an episode of vomiting and prevent dehydration following episodes of diarrhea or vomiting. Your body needs some of these electrolytes for daily function, including muscle contraction and heart rhythm. Adding some ginger to your diet in combination with liquids may also help. Ginger helps curb nausea and reduce inflammation.
What Should I Avoid Eating When I Am Vomiting?
You should avoid several foods while experiencing an upset stomach or digestive issues. For example, you should avoid foods that contain insoluble fiber until the vomiting has stopped. Insoluble fiber may contribute to diarrhea and worsen the symptoms of most digestive issues. Foods with insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole grains, and vegetables. You should also avoid dairy products.
You can take your food restriction a step further and avoid FODMAP foods. These are foods with short-chain carbohydrates which the body does not absorb well. These foods can also cause abdominal pain and discomfort. They include certain vegetables (e.g., asparagus, avocado, cauliflower, celery, onions, and garlic) and fruits (e.g., apples, pears, peaches, berries, mango, and watermelon). You'll also want to steer clear of honey, tea, soy, and certain meats, like sausage.
What Else Can I Do to Curb Vomiting?
Making dietary changes during episodes of nausea and vomiting is the more traditional approach to managing this discomfort, but there are other options you can use in addition to the diet modification. Less traditional remedies like aromatherapy, for example, can improve digestion. It also gives your nose the pleasant smell of essential oils used in this practice. You may also try wrist acupressure. This traditional Chinese medicine practice involves applying pressure in the wrist area to stimulate areas of the body for symptom relief.
Vomiting is usually harmless but can indicate a severe medical condition. Dehydration is one concern when someone has vomited. Vomiting during pregnancy is also concerning because it can lead to a medical condition where the mother can develop fluid and electrolyte imbalances called hyperemesis gravidarum. It is essential to stay hydrated following periods of vomiting. Call your doctor if the vomiting doesn't stop after about 24 hours and you are unsure of the cause. They can suggest a proper treatment plan once they have medically reviewed your history.
Cleveland Clinic. (2019, December 6). GERD (Chronic Acid Reflux). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17019-gerd-or-acid-reflux-or-heartburn-overview
Cleveland Clinic. (2021, November 26). What should you follow the BRAT diet?. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/brat-diet/
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Stanford Cancer Nutrition Services. (n.d.). Helpful tips for nausea and vomiting. https://stanfordhealthcare.org/content/dam/SHC/programs-services/cancer-nutrition/docs/nausea-vomiting-during-cancer-treatment-nutrition-facts.pdf
UCSF Health. (n.d.). Diet modifications for nausea and vomiting. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/diet-modifications-for-nausea-and-vomiting#:~:text=Smaller%20portions%20of%20foods%20that,your%20calorie%20and%20protein%20needs
WebMD. (n.d.). Pedialyte Oral Solution - Uses, Side Effects and More. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-11147/pedialyte-oral/details
Author bio:Alexandria Jones-Patten, PhD, MBA, MSN, RN has been a Registered Nurse since 2017. She has a background in cardiovascular care and providing primary care to populations experiencing homelessness. She has written for MedPage Today, Health, MedShadow, and Everyday Health. When she's not writing, she's running on a treadmill or on her next traveling excursion. You can also find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, or you can visit her website to see her latest articles.
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