Diet Plan For Gastroparesis

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Diet plan for gastroparesis is a necessity, but you can’t just jump into an unplanned diet with no planning. You need a complete guide to help you develop a lasting treatment plan. At Diet Plan For Gastroparesis we want to help alleviate the suffering of patients diagnosed with gastroparesis or other digestive disorders.

What is gastroparesis ?

Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach cannot empty food in a normal manner. What and how you eat, perhaps not surprisingly, play a big role in its management.

The foods that are part of a gastroparesis diet are easily digested, which can help you manage related digestive symptoms. The diet is also designed to help you maintain optimal nutrition, which is especially important for preventing some of the concerns that stem from flares.

Is There a Gastroparesis Diet?

If you have gastroparesis, your stomach doesn’t empty as fast as it should. Your doctor may call it delayed gastric emptying. It can make you feel sick or vomit. Your belly may hurt, or it may seem really full after you eat a small amount of food. This can make it hard for you to get enough calories, vitamins, and minerals.

There isn’t an official gastroparesis diet. But you may feel better if you change how and what you eat. Your doctor might send you to a registered dietitian. They can help you figure out which foods work best. Here are a few tips.

How to Make and Eat Food

The goal is to ease your symptoms while making sure you get enough nutrition. Everyone is different, but your doctor or dietitian may tell you to:

Eat small meals more often. Try to space your meals out. Eat 4-6 times a day. Your stomach may swell less and empty faster if you don’t put too much in it. A small meal is about 1 to 1½ cups of food.

Eat healthy food first. It’s not a good idea to fill up on empty calories like desserts or snacks.

Blend your meals. Liquids leave your stomach faster than solids. Toss your food in a blender or food processor with water, juice, milk, or broth. You can blend meat too, including fish and chicken.

Eat less fiber and fat. These can slow stomach emptying. You may feel OK if you stay under 2-3 grams of fiber with each meal. You might need to try to keep your fat between 30 and 50 grams or less per day.

Add high-fat drinks. Your stomach might do OK with liquid fat. That’s good news if you need more calories.

Chew your food well. Solid food is harder for your stomach to digest. Your food should feel kind of like mashed potatoes before you swallow.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other fluids every day. Dehydration can make your nausea worse. If you throw up a lot, your doctor may tell you to drink sports drinks or something else with sugar or electrolytes.

Eat solid foods first. Try solid food in the morning, and eat more liquid meals later in the day. If your symptoms are serious, your doctor may suggest you go on an all-liquid diet for a while.

What to Avoid

Too much fat. You’ll want to limit solid foods high in fat. That includes non-lean meats (sausage, hot dogs) and anything fried or greasy. Try fat-free, low-fat, or reduced-fat foods.

High-fiber food. Some fruits and vegetables can be hard to chew. They can also cause bezoar formations — that’s when fiber clumps together. You can end up with a blockage in your stomach. Some experts say it’s like a cat with a hairball. Some high-fiber foods you may want to skip:

  • Raw and dried fruits (such as apples, berries, coconuts, figs, oranges, and persimmons)
  • Raw vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts, corn, green beans, lettuce, potato skins, and sauerkraut)
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Nuts and seeds (including chunky nut butters and popcorn)
  • Legumes or dried beans like lentils, soybeans, or baked beans

Tough food. That includes meats like steak and roast, or anything with skin.

Dairy. You may not digest lactose very well. That’s a sugar found in milk products. Use lactose-free or nondairy milk (like soy) instead.

Alcohol and smoking. These may slow your stomach emptying even more.

Carbonated drinks. The extra air may fill up your stomach.

Large amounts of fluid. Too much liquid at once can make you feel really full. Try to take small sips while you eat.

What to Eat and Drink

You’ll need to try different foods to see what works for you. But your doctor may suggest:

Starches

  • White pasta
  • White bread
  • Crackers
  • English muffins, white

Grains

  • Quick oats
  • White rice
  • Low-fiber cereals (less than 2 grams per serving)

Protein

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Lean meats (beef or pork)
  • Smooth nut or seed butters (1-2 tablespoons)

Fruit (peeled, canned, or cooked)

  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Grapefruit
  • Peaches or pears
  • Honeydew or cantaloupe

Vegetables (well-cooked and peeled)

  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Peppers
  • Sweet or white potatoes, peeled

Dairy or plant-based options

  • Skim milk
  • Soy, rice, almond milk
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Pudding or yogurt

High-calorie drinks

  • Fruit juices
  • Sports drinks
  • Milkshakes
  • Protein smoothies
  • Higher-fat milk (2% and whole milk, or full-fat oat milk)
  • Nutritional drinks

Other Tips

Sit up. Don’t slouch or lie down while you eat. Try to stay upright for at least 1-3 hours after you’re done. This can lessen pressure on your stomach.

Take a walk. Your symptoms may get better if you go for a walk or move after you eat.

Keep a food journal. Write down what you eat and how you feel after. That can help you figure out which foods make your symptoms worse.

Gastroparesis and Diabetes

Uncontrolled diabetes can also slow stomach emptying. That’s because high blood sugar affects your nerves, including the ones in your belly. Talk to your doctor about how you can control your blood sugar.

Basic Dietary Guidelines

Here are some tips to help you decide what foods to eat and what foods to avoid.

General dietary recommendations for gastroparesis include:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Eat less fatty foods
  • Avoid fiber
  • Avoid foods that cannot be chewed well
  • Foods that are generally encouraged include:
    • Breads, cereals, crackers, ground or pureed meats
    • Vegetables – cooked and, if necessary, blenderized/strained
    • Fruits – cooked and, if necessary, blenderized/strained
    • Juices, beverages, milk products, if tolerated
    • Small, frequent meals

Reducing the meal size reduces the distention of the stomach from the meal. By eating smaller meals, you may not feel as full or bloated and the stomach may empty faster. With the reduction in meal size, increasing the number of meals to 4­−6 per day is needed to maintain adequate nutritional intake.

Avoid foods high in fat

Fat can delay emptying of the stomach. Eating less fat-containing foods will decrease the amount of time food stays in the stomach. However, fat containing liquids, such as milkshakes, may be tolerated and provide needed calories.

A diet low in fiber is suggested

Fiber delays gastric emptying. In addition, fiber may bind together and cause a blockage of the stomach (called a bezoar).

Examples of high fiber foods that should be avoided include:

    • Fruits – apples, berries, coconuts, figs, oranges, persimmons
    • Vegetables – Brussels sprouts, green beans, green peas, lettuce, potato peels, sauerkraut
    • Bran/whole grain cereals
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Legumes/Dried Beans – baked beans, lentils, soy beans

Fiber supplements for treatment of constipation should also be discontinued if possible.

Avoid foods that may not be easily chewed

Examples of hard to chew foods include:

    • Broccoli
    • Corn
    • Popcorn,
    • Nuts
    • Seeds

Chew food well before swallowing

Solid food in the stomach does not empty well. Dental problems, such as missing or broken teeth, may lead to poorly chewed food. This may add to the problem of inadequate breakdown of food into smaller particles in the stomach for passage into the small intestine for absorption.

Position

Taking fluids throughout the meal and sitting upright or walking for 1−2 hours after meals may help in the emptying of the meal from the stomach.

Vitamins and minerals

A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement can be taken if dietary intake is inadequate

Compliant Foods

  • Soda crackers
  • Gelatin
  • Graham crackers
  • Ginger ale
  • Gluten-free foods
  • Tea
  • Potatoes (sweet and white)
  • Pretzels
  • White fish
  • Clear soup
  • Salmon
  • White rice
  • Popsicles
  • Applesauce

Non-Compliant Foods

  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Fried chicken
  • Cabbage
  • Sausage
  • Pizza
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Tomato juice
  • Lettuce
  • Coffee
  • Salsa
  • Broccoli
  • Bacon
  • Roast beef

Timing and Tips

With gastroparesis, your stomach is less able to transport food into your small intestine. Instead of eating three large meals per day, try eating six or more smaller meals every two to three hours. It can help reduce the burden on your stomach.

Cooking Tips

You may not have time to cook five or six times each day, so plan to cook meals in bulk and divide them into small containers to be enjoyed later.

You might also want to cut and freeze fruit to use in smoothies or juices. Steam vegetables in advance, then store them in microwavable containers to reheat as needed.

To reduce fat in meals, use cooking methods that don’t include oils or butter. Roast meat and seafood, steam vegetables, or grill foods to keep them lean.

Modifications

Nutritional deficiencies are not uncommon while on a gastroparesis diet. Studies have shown that many people with gastroparesis have diets deficient in calories, vitamins, and minerals.

For instance, a large study published in the journal Gastroenterology tracked over 300 patients with gastroparesis to evaluate their calorie and nutrient intake.8 They found that, on average, study participants consumed under 1,200 calories per day—equivalent to about 58% of their total caloric needs.

Additionally, many study participants were deficient in important vitamins and minerals, most notably:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

Unfortunately, research has also indicated that people with the condition rarely get nutritional consultation.

In the study, only a third of the participants received dietary therapy. However, those who did were 1.5 times more likely to have their daily caloric intake reach 85% or more of their daily requirement.

For this reason, medical experts suggest dietary therapy to address nutritional deficiencies. If you are managing another condition, such as diabetes, a registered dietitian can work together with you and the rest of your healthcare team to manage a comprehensive treatment strategy.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about any medications you’re taking. Certain drugs slow gastric emptying and may make symptoms worse. Examples include:

  • Aluminum-containing antacids
  • Narcotic (opioid) pain medications
  • Anticholinergic agents
  • Bulk-forming agents

 How Medications Affect Your Stomach

Considerations

Living with gastroparesis can be easier with support and knowledge.

Your healthcare team may be able to direct you to a support community affiliated with a hospital or health center near you. Talking to others, sharing experiences, and gathering tips can help you to feel less alone as you manage the condition.

If a support group isn’t available near you, online resources may be helpful.

The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders is a nonprofit education and research organization that provides substantial information about living with gastroparesis.9 Their website offers helpful guidance including travel tips, personal stories, and advice to make day-to-day living more comfortable.

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