Cancer experts generally point out that everyone’s experience with cancer and cancer treatments is different, but one thing that is common to around 70% of individuals undergoing cancer treatment is nausea.
While the symptoms will disappear once treatment is completed, it is a good idea to feed your child anti-nausea foods while undergoing Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy or any other treatments/medications that make them nauseous.
Below are recipes for some foods that can help alleviate or minimise some of the nausea that can come with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Some general rules of thumb for cooks: keep portions small, keep the room cool, and keep cooking odours to a minimum (too much food, strong food aromas, and hot temperatures can also trigger nausea).
A centuries-old folk remedy, ginger, is widely used to treat nausea despite the fact that no one really knows exactly how it works. Scientists suspect phytochemicals may play a role in quieting an unsettled stomach.
Studies have found that taking ginger in tandem with anti-nausea medications can help wipe out, or at the very least minimise, nausea during chemotherapy. (Protective dose: ½ to 1 gram powdered ginger, which is about the equivalent of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fresh.)
YIELD: 10-12 glasses
- 8 cups water
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups fresh lime juice
- 4 cups chilled ginger ale
- Mix water and sugar In a pan over medium heat
- Stir until sugar has dissolved.
- Let cool.
- Mix sugar syrup with fresh lime juice and chilled ginger ale in a jug
- Serve over ice
Lemons are a known popular treatment for morning sickness, as they are great little nausea-blockers. Eat them in foods, suck on them, or just grab and sniff a cut up lemon wedge when the tummy goes for a spinning tea-cup ride.
It is also helpful to suck on sour lemon candies. Why lemon? According to the National Cancer Institute, lemon, lime, and other tart-flavoured foods are easy on the stomach.
Minted Watermelon and Lemon Ice Pops
YIELD: 8 ice pops
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 2 cups packed (1cm) cubed seeded watermelon
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
- To prepare watermelon layer, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; cook 30 seconds, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in mint; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a bowl.
2. Place watermelon in a blender; process until smooth. Strain puree through a sieve into bowl with mint syrup; press with back of a spoon to extract juice. Discard solids. Stir in lime juice; cover and chill 1 hour.
3. Pour about 2 1/2 tablespoons watermelon mixture into each of 8 ice pop moulds. Freeze 1 1/2 hours or until almost set. Arrange 1 wooden stick into mixture, being careful not to push through to bottom of mould. Return to freezer. Freeze 1 hour or until frozen.
4. To prepare lemon layer, combine 6 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; cook 30 seconds, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour into a bowl; stir in lemon juice, orange juice, and extract. Cool 15 minutes; cover and chill at least 1 hour.
5. Remove moulds from freezer. Pour about 3 tablespoons lemon mixture over frozen watermelon mixture in each mould. Freeze 2 hours or until completely frozen.
Scientists know that nausea is controlled by the central nervous system and that many factors such as the dose and duration of chemotherapy, the way it’s administered, and the anxiety level of a patient can all play a role in the onset and severity of the nausea experienced.
Food temperatures also appear to play a huge role; chilled foods such as a chef’s salad, sandwiches, ice lollies, and sorbets seem to go down much easier than hot foods.
Herby Cucumber Salad
YIELD: Serves 6
- 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped mint
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- 5 1/2 cups thinly sliced cucumber (about 2 large)
- 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
- Combine the first 11 ingredients in a food processor or a blender
- Process until well blended.
- Combine the cucumber and onion in a large bowl.
- Drizzle with yogurt mixture, and toss to coat.
Salty Pretzels & Crackers
When nausea is a problem first thing in the morning, it is best to nibble on dry crackers and soda water before you get up according to experts at the American Institute of Cancer Research.
Dry toast, dry salty crackers, dry cereals, or salted dry pretzels can all help quell nausea if nibbled on slowly throughout the day. The key word here is dry (drinking liquids with foods, or with meals, can sometimes provoke nausea).
YIELD: 16 crackers (serving size: 2 crackers)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 300°.
- Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir with whisk. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1/3 cup water and cream; stir to form a stiff dough.
- Roll dough into a 13-inch square on a baking sheet. Score dough into 16 equal squares. Pierce each cracker with a fork. Bake at 300° for 45 minutes or until crisp. Cool on pan.
Strong aromas, bold spicy flavours, and lots of fat can all trigger nausea. For this reason it is best to stick with the plain foods such as rice, noodles, and mashed potatoes.
That does not of course necessarily mean that one has to be deprived of wholesome, tasty meals – most of these milder-flavoured choices are the kind of comfort foods that make the tummy happy and satisfy the spirit as well.
Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
YIELD: Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)
- 8 cups Chicken Stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
- 2 (112 gram) skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 (340 gram) skinless, bone-in chicken breast half
- 2 cups diagonally sliced carrot
- 2 cups diagonally sliced celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 170 grams uncooked medium egg noodles
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Celery leaves (optional)
- Combine the first 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven (or pot) over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes.
- Remove chicken from pan; let stand for 10 minutes.
- Remove chicken from bones; shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard bones.
- Add carrot, celery, and onion to pan; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add noodles, and simmer 6 minutes.
- Add chicken, salt, and black pepper; cook for 2 minutes or until noodles are done.
- Garnish with celery leaves, if desired.
According to the American Cancer Society, there’s really insufficient evidence to confirm that peppermint helps treat nausea or any of the side effects from cancer treatments.
There are, however, so many anecdotal reports that there is no harm in sipping mint tea or sucking on peppermint candies to see if they help settle the stomach. The same goes for for recipes that use peppermint, particularly if they’re the kind of cool, creamy foods that the stomach finds easy to tolerate.
Iced Mint Tea
YIELD: 8 cups
- 8 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon loose Chinese green tea
- 25 fresh mint sprigs (about 40 grams )
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Combine water and tea in a medium bowl; cover and steep 2 1/2 minutes.
- Strain tea mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, and discard tea leaves.
- Add mint; steep 5 minutes.
- Add sugar; stir until sugar dissolves.
- Cool completely.
- Serve over ice.
Not everyone enjoys Green Tea, but you can make the same recipe with Rooibos or even Ceylon (ordinary) Tea.
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