If you’re struggling with chemotherapy-induced nausea, here are a few more tips to help you ease it and cope with it.
- To maintain optimal nutritional levels, consider supplementing your diet with protein shakes. Do not use protein shakes designed for weight loss programs, instead opt for protein shakes designed for bariatric patients. These are designed for optimal nutrition, not weight loss.
- When nauseated, if someone else is available, have them prepare the meals.
- On days when you are not nauseated and feel up to cooking, prepare 2 to 3 dishes that freeze well. This can include dishes like chili, beef stew, spaghetti, and lasagna. Once these dishes are finished cooking, store them in individual servings. For the lasagna, use plastic storage containers that are just slightly larger than the size of the lasagna servings you are cutting. For the others, use freezer safe zipper bags. Sandwich size bags are usually perfect, as 1-1 1/2 cup servings are usually big enough. You can always reheat more than one bag if you need to. For the spaghetti, you can prepare the noodles now or later. It is strictly your preference. If you choose to prepare the noodles now, they will reheat fine. When you do foods like this, not only is it easier on the days when you are tired and do not feel like cooking, but you have ready meals made for your family on the days when you do not feel well, and you also have meals ready to eat when you do feel like eating. Remember that caffeine and smoking usually aggravate nausea and vomiting.
- Items like ice, popsicles, and peppermints or other hard candies are great to suck on during chemotherapy.
- Try taking a short walk outside after eating. Keep it to 10 to 20 minutes. This will give you fresh air, which will likely help ease nausea. If you go longer than 20 minutes, it becomes more like exercise, which can slow digestion and increase your discomfort.
- If you start vomiting, stop eating. Once the vomiting stops, resume foods slowly, beginning with small amounts of clear liquids, such as water (Crystal Light works well, too or make Kool-Aid from an unsweetened mix and sweeten with Wisdom SweetLeaf Stevia if you want to avoid the aspartame), broth, sports drinks, or caffeine-free soda. Vitamin Water Zero is sweetened with Stevia, too, if you want a premade, sugar-free drink. Once you tolerate the liquids well, you can progress to mild foods like rice, toast, bananas, and Jell-O (avoid sugar-free Jell-O). If these are tolerated well, you can resume solid foods.
- If you are not afraid of needles, try acupuncture. If needles are something you do not deal with well, try acupressure. They work on the same premise, but with acupressure, instead of having needles inserted into the pressure points, you lay on a mat covered with spines that have sharp points. Three pressure points help with nausea. The first one is on the inside of the biceps tendon on the elbow joint and will not only help with nausea and stomach upset but also helps with anxiety and chest congestion. The second pressure point is between your belly button and sternum. This one is better for poor digestion, diarrhea, and heartburn; however, if you slide down a few inches and find the depression about 2 inches above your pubic bone, this pressure point is great for fatigue and weakness. The third pressure point is located on the inside of your wrist. To find this one, run your finger up your forearm from the crease of your wrist until you fill the two tendons in the middle of the arm. The point where the two tendons meet is the pressure point. This one is good for nausea, carpal tunnel, motion sickness, insomnia, and anxiety. As you can see, investing $30 in a good acupressure mat has several benefits just on the nausea side. Several additional pressure points that will help with the fatigue, anxiety, and depression that come along with cancer and chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is not something you just have to suffer through; not anymore. Now you have some steps to take to get back control of your life. If your oncologist has prescribed antiemetics, be sure to take them as prescribed, and do not miss any doses. This is your first line of defense. Your second line of defense is to follow the steps above. If you still have nausea and vomiting issues, speak with your doctor about additional treatment options, such as additional antiemetics that may be available.
For additional information on nausea and vomiting prevention during chemotherapy, click here.