Eating should be fun. But, when you have gastroparesis, it can be painful, nauseating and difficult.
Last year I was diagnosed with a mild form of this digestive condition, which is often bundled with autoimmune disorders. The Mayo Clinic says gastroparesis can also be spurred by the use of opioid pain relievers, allergy medications, some antidepressants and high blood pressure.
My gastroenterologist initially put me on a prescription medication, which didn’t sit well with me, so I decided to go the natural route. Over the last two years, I’ve discovered what works for my sluggish stomach muscles and may give you some ideas to consider too.
How I’m Managing My Gastroparesis Naturally
Before I dive into my overall routine, know that the only way these things work is through consistency. When I veer away from these practices, all my symptoms come back. For me that includes a layering of no appetite, feeling full after a few bites of food, having meals sit heavy in my esophagus and stomach, bloating and nausea.
I pay close attention to my food. On the advice of my doctor, I try to eat my vegetables and fruits cooked or pureed because they are easier to digest than whole, raw produce. It’s also a good idea to opt for processed grains (bread, crackers, noodles) rather than whole grains, such as rice, corn or quinoa.
I wrote about what foods I’m eating and how I eat them in my post titled Gastroparesis Diet: How and What I’m Eating. Since writing that piece, I’ve noticed that I also feel best when I opt for at least one liquid meal each day, such as a smoothie for breakfast or creamy soup for dinner. This gives my digestive system a little break from processing complex, fibrous whole foods.
I move after meals. When I was in the hospital doing a gastric emptying study and series of X-rays to trace food moving through my digestive system, I learned how important exercise is in relation to proper digestion.
At one point during my evaluation, I was told to go walk the halls of the hospital for 45 minutes. Why? It would help move my food through my system faster. Now, whenever possible I try to go for a short walk or do a gentle yoga flow after I eat to help stimulate my stomach muscles.
I manage my stress more effectively. I used to think that stress management was taking the night off and watching a movie or buying myself flowers for no reason. Sure, those do elevate the feel-good chemicals in our bodies, but it’s a temporary way to reduce stress.
Over the past year I’ve decided to really get to the root cause of my ongoing, lingering stressors in my life. I’m working with a talented therapist to remove emotional triggers (Hello, stress!) and get better overall balance in how I receive and process information.
I’m proof that you can read all the positive memes and books on self-help in the world, but you will make more progress in your stress management with the guidance of a mental health professional.
The takeaway here? Less stress = better digestive system functioning.
Do you have mild gastroparesis? How are you finding relief in your daily life? Feel free to comment below and inspire other readers. We’re in this together!
As always, please consult a medical professional if you have questions about a specific illness or symptoms you’re experiencing. My thoughts stem from a patient perspective and are meant to trigger talking points to use with your healthcare team.
Until next time,
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