Nausea is described as the "uneasiness of the stomach" that often occurs before you vomit; it's the dreaded feeling that usually happens right before you run into the bathroom (and hope you'll make it there) hand over your mouth. Whether you've already been sick or feel it coming, the last thing on your mind is eating, but foods for nausea can actually help your belly calm itself. (While we're talking about what to eat, we should also mention foods your should avoid: spicy foods or anything that resembles a meal that could have made you sick in the first place.)
Did you know that some foods are scientifically proven to soothe your stomach, and there appear to be more nausea remedies out there than ever before? While perusing new studies and research, we were actually surprised at some of the foods science recommends for nausea (although we did see some of our go-to sick meals, too). Be sure to learn which foods for nausea you should turn to—even when you don't feel like eating a thing.
Apples contain fiber, which helps you rid your body of toxins faster. "Fiber slows down digestion, so it's possible that the slowing of the intestinal transit may help ease digestion and relieve nausea," says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat for Dummies. However, beware of eating too much of any food with fiber, because it can actually add to your nausea. Rule of thumb: Eat one whole apple—or slices of one if it's easier to swallow. If that seems unpalatable, opt for some applesauce or apple juice.
Maybe it's TMI, but many believe our ancestors used mint as an antacid ages ago. It's not so surprising considering many of us drink mint tea when we're feeling under the weather. Mint is a suggested food for nausea because it helps bile flow through our digestive system, making all the processes in our stomach work better at the same time (you can actually just chew on some fresh mint leaves if you'd like). And guess what? If you're not quite up for eating or drinking anything, aromatherapy using mint essential oils may help, too. A study of more than 300 patients experiencing postoperative nausea found that they had lessened symptoms when they were given aromatherapy treatments with a blend of oils including peppermint oil.
This food for nausea may come as no surprise, but crackers always seem to do the trick. Yes, Mom said they worked when you weren't feeling well, but there’s actually a scientific reason behind why this food is the one you reach for even when you're at worst. The secret is that they're high in starch—similar to toast or pretzels—which helps absorb stomach acids and calm your digestive system. And there's more: "The bland nature of a cracker helps to satisfy hunger (excessive hunger can exasperate nausea) without the strong smells or tastes that may increase nausea," Palinski-Wade says.
Lemons may be a popular cure-all for morning sickness, but trust us, they'll work to ease your type of nausea, too. They help cure your body of toxins, so have them however you like them best: a wedge in your tea, lemonade, or even just sniff one if you're not hungry. Yes, you read that right: A 2014 study found that simply inhaling the scent of a fresh lemon allowed pregnant women to experience less nausea and vomiting.
Lemon and mint may help, but we can't promise they'll satiate your hunger (you still need to eat even if you're nauseated). Normally when you're not feeling well, you automatically gravitate toward a bowl of chicken soup. We're sorry to say that's not what you should do in this situation since the soup will be too heavy on your upset stomach. Chicken broth is best for you when you're nauseated, says Stephen B. Hanauer, MD, medical director of the digestive health center at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. PS: The great thing about broth is that you can easily whip some up if you keep a few bouillon cubes in the house.
Do you have any remedies you rely on when you're suffering from nausea? Tell us in the comments.
Up next: healthy habits to form before you're 40.