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Gastroparesis: Dietary Tips to Reverse Your Life

by Ainsley S. - November 23, 2015


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Gastroparesis: Dietary Tips to Reverse Your Life
Could you imagine spending your days in complete pain? Feeling as if your body is failing you, as you are unable to eat and when you do, you become extremely ill. Some days are more manageable, but others you can barley leave bed. Between the stomach pains, vomiting, nausea, severe heartburn and periodical brain fogs, it is hard to keep control of your life. But for the many Canadians suffering from gastroparesis, a severe condition in which the stomach cannot properly empty itself of food in a normal fashion, this is what their daily life consists of.

But with the right changes to your lifestyle and diet, living with gastroparesis can be much more feasible.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, gastroparesis, which is also known as delayed gastric emptying, “Is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine."

If you are one of the many Canadians suffering from delayed gastric emptying, there are a number of simple dietary recommendations, recommended by According to the Health Link BC to help ease the discomfort from eating.

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Eat smaller, more frequent meals:

By reducing meal size, you may not feel as full or as bloated and the stomach may be able to properly empty its contents faster. But by reducing meal size, you still need to ensure that you are meeting your daily nutritional requirements, so eating more smaller meals throughout the day is ideal.

Eat less fatty foods:

Foods that are high in fat are much harder for the stomach to digest. Consuming less fatty foods will decrease the amount of time food stays in the stomach.

Avoid high fiber foods:

Fiber also plays a big role in delaying gastric emptying. When you eat foods containing fiber, it may bind together, causing hardened masses of undigested food, which are also known as bezoars. Bezoars can block the outlet of the stomach, causing sudden and/or severe vomiting and fullness.

People suffering from gastroparesis should avoid eating the following foods that are very high in fiber: Fruits (apples, berries, coconuts, figs and oranges), vegetables (Brussel Sprouts, green beans, green peas, lettuce, potato peels and sauerkraut), bran/whole grain cereals, nuts and seeds and legumes (dried or baked beans, lentils and soybeans).

Avoid foods that cannot be easily chewed:

Foods that are harder to chew include: broccoli, corn, popcorn, nuts and seeds.

Chew food properly before swallowing:

Make sure to always fully chew your food. You will not only avoid choking on dislodged food, you will also avoid solid food sitting in the stomach. Inadequate breakdown of food into smaller particles in the stomach creates a challenge of passing food to the small intestine for absorption.

Position:

It is also recommended that when consuming food to drink plenty of fluids. It is also important to try and relax and sit upright while eating. Following eating, it is important to wait at least one to two hours before you lie down.

Diet changes:

It may feel like there are a lot of foods you should be avoiding, but there are still tons of healthy and delicious foods you can still enjoy. Lean cuts of meat such as ground beef, chicken, fish and turkey are great and are full of protein. Eggs and yogurt are also great options. Low fiber foods are also good choices which include white breads, rice and pasta. For fruits and vegetables, aim for low fiber options like apple sauce, canned peaches, zucchini, lettuce and celery.

If you ever feel like your symptoms are improving, you can try to add more fiber foods into your diet, but only with caution and if approved by your doctor. Start with very small amounts to determine if your body can tolerate any changes.

Lifestyle Changes:

When it comes to planning your meals, you still want to ensure that you are enjoying what you are eating, just be conscious of what goes into your mouth and think about how it will affect you in the long run. Is eating that slice of pizza really worth the pain, or should you stick to something lighter that you know your stomach can handle?

Of course there will be times when you feel pressured to indulge in other foods, like when you attend a dinner party. Of course there may be food that meet your needs, but you don’t want to assume there is something your stomach can handle. A simple solution is to bring your own food. That way you won't offend your host by not eating and you will be able to enjoy the special occasion and not be in pain.

One thing to pay attention to is that most gastroparesis diets can often be very non nutritional and if the body is lacking its proper nutrients, it is often more difficult for it to function normally. Always make sure to take advantage of the nutritious foods and beverages that you can consume, opposed to foods that just fill you up and provide little nutrients. It is also important to take a multivitamin to ensure you are receiving all the nutrients your body needs.

Listen to your body:

Finally, you must learn to listen to what your body is telling you. If you can feel your stomach staying fuller for longer, try going for a walk after your meal and try to avoid solid foods in your next meal and opt for something lighter like soup.

Gastroparesis is a condition that is constantly changing. You may feel helpless or upset with what you are dealing with now, but with the right nutrition, dietary choices, physical activity and positive attitude, you can take back control of your life and feel like a brand new you!

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