Gastroparesis – also known as slow-emptying stomach – is a condition where the muscles in the stomach don’t work properly, causing food to linger in the stomach longer than normal. Gastroparesis can cause nausea, vomiting, bloating, a lack of appetite and acid reflux. A special diet can help lessen the effects of gastroparesis and help your stomach function more normally on a regular basis.
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The amount of food you eat is often one of the most important considerations to a gastroparesis diet, according to the University of Virginia Health System. Over-filling a slow-emptying stomach leads to poor digestion and food sitting in the stomach, causing bloating and discomfort. Furthermore, filling up on poor-nutrient food – such as fast food or junk food -- then prevents you from getting the nutrients your body requires later in the day as you will be too full to eat more nutrient-rich food. Eat smaller meals more often in order to avoid over-filling your stomach.
High-fat foods slow the digestive process, since it takes your stomach longer to break them down. That’s why your doctor may give you a low-fat diet to follow if you have gastroparesis. Aim for lean proteins such as fish, chicken or turkey breast, and beans and nuts rather than fattier red meats. Switching to skim milk over whole milk and opting for low- or non-fat cheeses and yogurts can help your stomach empty more quickly.
Fiber is another nutrient that your body takes longer to digest, meaning it can exacerbate your slow-emptying stomach symptoms. You may need to reduce your overall fiber intake, especially raw fruits and vegetables, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. Avoid pairing up high-fat and high-fiber foods at meal time. Try to get your fiber in during snack times, when you’re less likely to fill your stomach up.
High blood sugar can sometimes impair the digestive system, making it harder for your stomach to empty itself, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. Avoid processed sugars and use moderation when having sweet snacks such as cake, ice cream or candy.
A liquid diet may be a viable alternative for someone with a slow-emptying stomach in order to alleviate symptoms, according to the University of Virginia Health System. Blenderized meals are easier for the stomach to digest and may pass through your system faster than a normal meal. If you feel your stomach filling up, consider a liquid meal for your next meal, such as soup. Fill up on essential nutrients first to ensure your body is getting the proper nutrition you need.