How to ease gastroparesis
Gastroparesis is a condition that causes the stomach to empty food contents slowly. Gastro (stomach) + paresis (paralysis)
Who may develop gastroparesis? People who have:
- Diabetes who have not managed their blood sugar levels
- Been taking certain medications such narcotics, calcium channel blockers and certain antidepressants
- Recently had surgery where there might be accidental damage to the vagus nerve that controls contraction of the stomach
- A past history of an eating disorder
Common symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- Early satiety (feeling full after eating just a small amount of food)
- Feeling bloated (especially after eating)
- Waking up feeling nauseous
- Occasionally vomiting when you begin to eat
- Never feeling hungry
The uncomfortable feelings that come with gastroparesis can often be resolved with dietary changes to make it easier for the stomach to work:
- Very small meals (stop eating before you feel full)
- Chew food very well (less work for the stomach)
- Stay upright after eating for at least one hour
Changes in food choices will also relieve the discomfort of gastroparesis. Cooked, tender foods are best rather than raw or rough foods.
Changing up foods choices when you have gastroparesis can make a huge difference in how food is digested and then, how folks feel – more energy, for example, is pretty typical. Fruits and vegetables are best peeled and cooked, rather than raw, for ex., applesauce rather than whole raw apples. White rice, bread and pasta are digested more easily. White, sour dough, Italian and French breads are good choices.
Low-fiber cold cereal such as Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies are better than bran flakes.
Lean protein such as Greek yogurt, cheese, eggs, fish and skinless poultry are easier to digest than beef and pork. Beef and pork should be ground or minced.
A healthy menu for gastroparesis
- 1 poached egg on 1 slice sourdough toast
- light-packed canned peaches
- 1/2 cup skim or 1 percent milk
- Tuna salad sandwich on French-style bread
- 1/2 cup of tomato soup
- Skim or 1percent milk
- Turkey meatloaf (one small slice)
- Mashed potatoes
- Steamed spinach
Between-Meal Snack Ideas
- Greek yogurt
- Pudding cup
- Light-packed canned fruit, such as applesauce
- Cheese slices and saltine crackers
- Nilla wafers and skim or 1 percent milk
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years, and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.