25 Foods to Eat When You're Nauseous but Hungry

When you're nauseous from cancer treatment, it can be hard to eat. Of course, good food helps keep your body strong. So what should you eat when you're nauseous but hungry?

You can start with the BRAT diet recommendations. Add cereals, shakes, smoothies, frozen fruit bars, pancakes, and eggs as you're able.

This article looks at what types of choices are good and why.

Breakfast made of oatmeal with apples, honey and cinnamon
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High Starch Foods

Starchy foods can work to absorb stomach acid and ease an upset stomach. Examples of good choices include:

  • Crackers
  • Dry white toast
  • White rice
  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes

Cool Foods

Spicy and hot foods can aggravate nausea. Instead, choose foods that are cool. In addition to being easier on your stomach, cool and cold foods have less odor, so they are less likely to incite nausea. Try a variety of foods such as:

  • Watermelon
  • Ice pops
  • Cold pasta
  • Smoothies

High-Protein Foods

To keep your energy up, it's essential to have nutrient-rich foods. Choose high-protein meals, but keep your choices bland, skipping seasoning and dressings. Smart ideas include:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Baked chicken
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Tofu

Tea

While cool foods help in some instances, hot tea is the best choice for others. Add honey and lemon for taste and additional benefits. Some of the best herbal teas to ease nausea are:

Hard Candy

Sucking a bit of candy can also ease an upset stomach. Try candy flavors such as:

  • Lemon or other sour flavors
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint

High-Fiber Foods

Fiber helps toxins pass through the digestive system so you can recover from nausea more quickly. Foods rich in fiber include:

  • Apples
  • Applesauce
  • Raw vegetables
  • Pears
  • Prunes

Medication for Nausea

Dietary changes can help, but you should also continue to take anti-nausea medication that is prescribed by your healthcare provider. It can be your best defense for dealing with queasiness. Even if you don’t feel nauseated, take your medications as prescribed to prevent nausea and vomiting from occurring.

If your medications aren't working, let your healthcare provider know. There are a variety of medications available, and it may take trial and error to find the right one.

Tips to Prevent and Soothe Nausea

  • If possible, avoid the kitchen when food is being prepared, to avoid strong food smells.
  • Keep snacks handy so you can eat as soon as you feel hungry.
  • Try keeping a little food in your stomach at all times. Having a completely empty stomach may worsen nausea.
  • Stay upright, either in a chair or propped up with pillows, for at least 30-60 minutes after eating. Lying flat after meals and snacks can worsen nausea and heartburn.
  • Drink water. Keeping hydrated can help a great deal with nausea. If you cannot do so on your own, your healthcare provider may suggest fluid infusions in the clinic.
  • Cut the overly sweet taste of liquid nutritional products (e.g., Ensure) by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of finely ground, decaffeinated coffee to chocolate or vanilla flavors.

A Word From Verywell

Nausea is a common side effect of cancer treatment and can affect you for a variety of other reasons including pregnancy or a bacterial infection. While you may want to avoid putting anything in your stomach when you're feeling ill, it's important to eat to keep your strength up so you can recover. These foods may help you avoid nausea, but not all of these wor for all people. It may take some trial and error.

If your nausea and/or vomiting gets worse or is really difficult to control, a brain scan may be performed to rule out brain involvement.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Cancer Society. Managing nausea and vomiting at home.

  2. National Cancer Institute. Nutrition in cancer care (PDQ®)–patient version.

Additional Reading
  • Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. The Clinical Guide to Oncology Nutrition, Second Edition. (Elliott L, Molseed LL, McCallum PD, Grant B, Eds.). American Dietetic Association: Chicago, IL.

By Suzanne Dixon, MPH, RD
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RDN, is an award-winning registered dietitian and epidemiologist, as well as an expert in cancer prevention and management.