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Surviving Chemo-induced Nausea During the Holidays

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surviving the holidays with chemo-induced nausea Andres Rodriguez/PhotoSpin

Mistletoe, gingerbread and whiffs of pine may elicit special memories of Christmas, but if you are going through cancer treatment, the thoughts or smells of holiday comfort foods might cause your stomach to turn.

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects for some people undergoing cancer treatments. The feelings of stomach queasiness can be more pronounced with certain chemotherapy drugs or if treatments are given in higher doses.

If nausea is causing you anxiety, you're probably thinking, how do I cope at holiday gatherings with friends and family without throwing up? Experts say a few simple tips might do the trick.

First, prevention, like the old saying goes, is worth a pound of cure.

If your treatment is causing nausea, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe anti-nausea medication.

Besides helping you feel better, the anti-nausea medication can help prevent unnecessary weight loss and ensure your nutritional needs are met.

If you are taking anti-nausea medication but it isn’t working, call your doctor or nurse right away.

Next, choose your foods wisely. Greasy, fried, salty, sweet or spicy foods are often not well tolerated. Even the smell can cause your stomach to feel unsettled.

Managing nausea at holiday gatherings can be particularly tricky. Michele Szafranski, a cancer dietitian at American Cancer Society suggests it’s better to eat five small meals rather than three big ones.

So before leaving your house, try eating a snack with fiber and protein, “just in case there aren’t many options for you” at the gathering.

At the gathering, look for foods you think might be well tolerated if you are particularly anxious about nausea. However, Szafranski suggests you might also want to consider this a prime opportunity to try new dishes to identify new flavors that might taste good to you.

Regardless which option is best for you, after you have your plate, start slow. Take small portions so you don’t get the “overfull” feeling. After all, you can always go back for seconds if you feel up to it.

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EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for providing such helpful information about gingerbread effectiveness on cancer patients. Although all know there are only few people those obey these types of instruction but to me its very important to care about our health. It's better to enjoy full life rather than just few days.


December 21, 2012 - 6:08am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.