Nausea is feeling like you may be sick. If you feel nauseous, you may be physically sick (vomit), but you may also feel this way without actually vomiting. The feeling usually passes within a few days, depending on the cause.
Many things can cause nausea, the most common being a tummy bug (gastroenteritis), drinking too much alcohol and some medications.
If you feel nauseous, you may not feel like eating much – or anything. Still, it’s important to drink fluids to help prevent dehydration. Try to eat smaller meals to keep up your energy levels, but avoid eating large meals as this could make your symptoms worse.
But it’s not just how much you eat that can make nausea feel better or worse, the actual foods you eat can also make a difference. The next time that sickly feeling strikes, try the following foods for nausea.
What’s good for nausea?
Cold food and drinks
Many people find they can tolerate cold food and drinks served at room temperature better than hot if they feel sick. This may be because cold food is less likely to smell strongly. Smelly, spicy, sweet or greasy food can also make you feel worse. If you feel up to eating, try a sandwich, salad or piece of fruit, like a banana.
Sip cold drinks to help you stay hydrated. Water may be best, but you can also try a fizzy drink like soda water or a flavoured cordial, like peppermint.
Dry foods like toast, crackers or breadsticks are often good for people with nausea. These usually don’t have a strong smell or taste, and can help calm your tummy. They will also help boost your energy levels.
Ginger has long been used to help treat nausea symptoms, and studies show it works well. It’s often taken as a supplement to relieve nausea in pregnant people and those having cancer treatment (chemotherapy). While taking ginger to treat nausea is generally thought to be safe, check with a doctor before trying it if you’re pregnant.
There are lots of ways to enjoy ginger when you’re feeling sick. You could try a cold ginger cordial, a warm ginger tea, hot water with a slice of fresh ginger, or a ginger biscuit.
Some studies suggest that the smell of peppermint oil can help with nausea, possibly because it helps relax your stomach muscles. Peppermint is also said to be good if you’ve got nausea from having cancer treatment.
Try peppermint tea to see if it helps, or add fresh mint leaves to hot water.
When to see a doctor for nausea
Speak to a doctor if you still feel sick after a few days, or you have nausea that doesn’t go away or keeps coming back – especially if you don’t know what’s causing it.
Feeling and being sick can be a symptom of a more serious condition, like an inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis) or alcohol poisoning. See a doctor or go to hospital as soon as possible if you feel sick or have been sick, and:
- you have a fever and a stiff neck
- your vision is blurred
- you have cramping or a lot of pain in your tummy
- you have chest pain and/or are short of breath
- you’re dizzy or confused
- you bring up blood when you’re sick
- you have a bad headache
- nausea is the feeling that you might be sick. If you have nausea, it doesn’t always mean you will be sick (vomit)
- nausea has many causes, the most common being a tummy bug (gastroenteritis), drinking too much alcohol and some medicines
- if you have nausea, you may find cold and dry foods help instead of hot, greasy or spicy foods
- ginger and peppermint can also be effective at relieving symptoms of nausea
- nausea should pass within a few days. If you still feel sick after a few days or you have other symptoms and you’re worried, see a doctor