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.
ometimes gastroparesis is a temporary sign that your body has something else that you’re dealing with. Sometimes it’s a chronic, or long-term, condition.
Gastroparesis can also occur after bariatric surgery or another medical procedure that interrupts your digestion.
When you have gastroparesis, the amount of fats and fiber that you eat can greatly affect how intense your symptoms are. Dietary adjustments are sometimes the first method of treatment suggested to people who have gastroparesis
Gastroparesis may be caused by various conditions such as diabetes mellitus, certain disorders of the nervous system, or certain drugs. Often however, no cause can be found although a viral infection is suspected in some. The physician may prescribe medication to stimulate the stomach to contract. The purpose of the gastroparesis diet is to reduce symptoms and maintain adequate fluids and nutrition.
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.
The gastroparesis diet is always the first step to treating this condition after diagnosis. The easy-to-digest foods it promotes put less stress on your gastrointestinal system, reducing a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Following a gastroparesis diet may also help you avoid medications and other treatments for the condition that may be associated with side effects.
Is There a Gastroparesis Diet?
Modifying dietary habits can ensure you receive the necessary calories and nutrients to stay healthy while also avoiding unnecessary stress to the digestive system, it is also important to get read the best Medicare supplemental plan comparison chart in order to get the best medicine for this condition. Eating smaller meals more frequently and reducing the amount of hard to digest foods like fatty and fibrous foods will help ease digestion and avoid complications resulting from gastroparesis.
As the severity of gastroparesis varies from person to person, the gastroparesis diet has three levels to accommodate different needs. These gastroparesis diet may require supplemental nutrition; your physician will discuss these options with you if appropriate.
Stage 1: Liquid diet – liquids prevent dehydration while supplying the body with important minerals. Liquids are easily digested and can even be digested around bezoars. Bezoars are solid masses of undigested food that can block proper digestion and occasionally develop in individuals with gastroparesis as a result of poor motility in the stomach. This stage will not provide sufficient nutrients long-term and should not be continued longer than recommended by your physician.
Stage 2: Limited diet – low-residue and low-fat foods can be incorporated into the diet along with liquid or pureed foods. These foods have more nutritional value than liquids alone but are relatively easy for the stomach to digest. Fat intake should be limited to 40 grams per day. Fat is generally tolerated better in liquid form than in solid form.
Stage 3: Maintenance diet – designed to control gastroparesis long-term. This stage incorporates all stage 2 foods plus additional limited fat and fibrous foods. High-fiber foods should be cooked so they are soft and chewed thoroughly to avoid fibrous materials slowing or blocking digestion. Fat intake should be limited to 50 grams per day.
Dietary changes are the primary treatment for gastroparesis. Doctors may recommend a person cut down on high-fat and high-fiber foods while prioritizing nutrient-dense and easily digestible items.
Other changes which can help to ease symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- eating smaller meals
- chewing food properly
- avoiding lying down during and after meals
- consuming liquid meal replacements
- taking a daily supplement
Eating smaller meals
Increasing the number of daily meals and decreasing the size of each one can help alleviate bloating and possibly allow the stomach to empty more quickly.
Some medical professionals recommended patients eat three small meals and two snacks throughout the day. However, other reviews suggest that consuming 4-6Trusted Source meals per day is optimal.
Chewing food properly
If food is not chewed enough in the mouth, it requires more effort to be broken down in the stomach. If food does not adequately break down in the stomach, it will not empty easily into the small intestine.
Thorough chewing may aid in the pace of digestion. If necessary, a person should address any dental problems they have that may be preventing the thorough chewing of their food.
Avoiding lying down during and after meals
Gravity aids digestion. When a person lies down while eating or within 3 hours of a meal, this can offset the effect of gravity and delay stomach emptying. Additionally, lying down during or following meals can contribute to acid reflux.
Going for a walk after eating, or engaging in another gentle physical activity, may help stimulate the stomach muscles.
Consuming liquid meal replacements
Consuming high-calorie liquid meal replacements may help a person reach daily calorie and nutrient goals without added solid mass.
Additionally, maintaining adequate fluid intake may assist a person in avoiding further complications, such as dehydration.
Taking a daily supplement
Malnutrition is a possible complication of gastroparesis. Some people with the condition may wish to take daily multivitamin and multimineral supplements to avoid this. However, this is not always necessary for recovery, according to a reviewTrusted Source.
What to Eat and Avoid
In addition to these foods, several medical sources have provided guidelines about different types of food that can provoke or reduce symptoms.
ietary fat slows digestion, so following a low-fat diet is usually beneficial.4
- Fried foods
- High-fat dairy
- Fatty meats
- Rich desserts
- Cream-based soups
- Low-fat and non-fat dairy
- Leaner, softer meats like chicken, turkey, or fish
You don’t have to completely cut out fat; just limit your intake. It’s okay, for example, to add a bit of sour cream, butter, or margarine to a meal, but only enough to add flavor.
Fiber is usually something you’d want to increase, but eating too much fiber can further slow gastric motility and make your condition worse.6
Avoid high-fiber foods like:
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
- Dried beans
Instead, choose foods that promote motility, such as:
- White bread
- Soda crackers
- Ripe melon
Raw Fruits and Vegetables
You don’t have to give up fruits and vegetables, but you may need to avoid:
- Raw vegetables
- Harder fruits like raw apples
- Fruits and berries that have pulp or a lot of seeds
- Thoroughly steam, roast, or boil veggies until they’re soft
- Choose fruits that are fully ripened, cooked, canned, or juiced (without the pulp)
- Meals are more likely to be digested more comfortably if they’re soft. You have a lot of choices among the softer foods commonly recommended for a gastroparesis diet.
- Chicken or turkey (skinless)
- Canned tuna (packed in water)
- White bread and rolls
- Plain bagels
- English muffins
- Flour or corn tortillas
- Oatmeal or cream of wheat
- Puffed rice or wheat cereal
- Cottage cheese
- Yogurt (without fruit)
- Custard or pudding
- Frozen yogurt
Fruits and vegetables:
- Well-cooked root vegetables
- Tomato sauces
- Baked or mashed potato (no skin)
- Sweet potato (no skin)
- Fruit and vegetable juices (no pulp)
- Canned peaches, pears, and apricots (skins removed)
- Broth and low-fat pureed soups
- Gelatin desserts
According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases, your doctor may recommend that you drink your nutrition if you can’t tolerate solid foods.7 These drinks may include liquid nutrition meals or solid foods puréed in a blender.
Your doctor may also recommend that you drink plenty of water or liquids that contain glucose and electrolytes, such as:
- Low-fat broths and clear soups
- Low-fiber fruit and vegetable juices
- Sports drinks
- Oral rehydration solutions
What Not to Eat
The following foods have been associated with bezoar formation and may need to be avoided (see Fiber section on page 1): apples, berries, coconut, figs, oranges, persimmons, Brussels sprouts, green beans, legumes, potato peels, sauerkraut.
When Solids Do Not Seem to Be Working – Try Blenderized Food
Any food can be blenderized, but solid foods will need to be thinned down with some type of liquid.
- If you do not have a blender, strained baby foods will work and can be thinned down as needed with milk, soy or rice milk, water, broth, etc.
- Always clean the blender well. Any food left in the blender for more than 1-2 hours could cause food poisoning.
- Meats, fish, poultry and ham: Blend with broths, water, milk, vegetable or V-8® juice, tomato sauce, gravies.
- Vegetables: Blend with water, tomato juice, broth, strained baby vegetables.
- Starches: Blend potatoes, pasta, or rice with soups, broth, milk, water, gravies. Add strained baby meats, etc. to add protein if needed. Consider using hot cereals such as Cream of Wheat or rice, grits, etc. as your “starch” at lunch and dinner.
- Fruits: Blend with their own juices, other fruit juices, water, strained baby fruits.
- Cereals: Make with caloric beverage instead of water. Try whole milk (or even evaporated/condensed milk), soy or rice milk, juice, Ensure®, Boost® or store brand equivalent. Add sugars, honey, molasses, syrups, or other flavorings, butter or vegetable oil for extra calories.
- Mixed dishes: Lasagna, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, chili, chop suey – add adequate liquid of your choice, blend well and strain.