Ginger Ale and Saltine Crackers? 5 Ways to Ease Stomach Pain and Nausea
Turns out, evidence backs up your grandmother’s cure-all for tummy troubles. Here’s why, and some more tips to feel better when you have a stomach ache.
The “I’m about to puke” feeling is one of the worst feelings, right? We’ve all been there: the aching belly, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
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And when we feel sick to our stomach, we hear our parents (or grandparents) in our head saying, “Have some crackers and ginger ale!”
But is there any proof that those work? Family medicine physician Matthew Goldman, MD, offers five tips for how to feel better when your stomach is in the pits.
However, reaching for the fizzy drink may not be the best way to get ginger in your system because:
Dr. Goldman suggests reading labels to ensure you’re getting less sugar and enough real ginger. Your best bet? Ginger root from the grocery store. Peel it and mix with decaf tea or warm water.
He advises having ginger in small amounts throughout the day – no need to get gluttonous about it. Other ginger options available in the natural foods aisle of your grocery store or at a natural foods store include:
“When your stomach doesn’t feel quite right, seek out low-fat, bland and slightly salty foods,” Dr. Goldman says. “You’ll see the best results when you eat smaller portions throughout the day.”
Bland foods like saltine crackers pass easily through the stomach, and there is evidence to suggest that they:
“You don’t have to rely only on saltines, however,” Dr. Goldman suggests. “There are lots of bland foods that can bring you relief.”
These tummy soothers include small portions of:
Fluids are important when you have a stomachache, especially if you need to replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea. Choose clear liquids in small amounts.
“Often, a straw can help deliver just the right amount. Take lots of sips during the day,” says Dr. Goldman. “Carbonation may be helpful unless you’re experiencing bloating. If you are, then skip carbonated beverages altogether.”
Dr. Goldman also suggests oral electrolyte solutions rather than sports drinks. They have electrolyte concentrations that more closely resemble what our bodies need, including minerals like potassium and magnesium.
“Sports drinks are designed to replace what we lose from sweat, but that’s a different scenario than what happens when you’ve had vomiting or diarrhea,” he says. “Plus, sports drinks tend to have a higher sugar content, which may feed bad gut bacteria.”
“There is evidence that patients with an upset stomach feel worse after eating certain foods,” says Dr. Goldman. “These foods aren’t just gas-producing – they can increase nausea, bloating, vomiting and/or diarrhea as well.”
He recommends avoiding foods that are:
Give your body a few days to recover from stomach woes. If it’s a stomach virus, it will pass on its own. Similarly, stress, motion sickness or something you consumed (like food, medicine or alcohol) could be causing your symptoms — but these too shall pass.
However, Dr. Goldman points out that it’s never a bad idea to reach out to your provider if you’re concerned. And definitely call your doctor if you: