Gastroparesis Diet: How and What I’m Eating

Gastroparesis Diet: How and What I'm Eating

I eat frequent, small meals due to gastroparesis. Avocado and cucumber rolls with gluten-free tamari sauce is one of my favorite lunches. Photo by Angela Tague

My dietary needs have shifted again. This time how I’m eating is just as important as what I’m eating.

Let me explain.

In early 2018 I was diagnosed with mild gastroparesis. The muscles of my stomach work a little slower than normal causing a delay in sending food into my small intestines. For me, this condition leads to daily, ongoing nausea and abdominal discomfort.

My gastroenterologist suggested making some changes to how and what I eat. After playing around with these adjustments for the past few months, I’m sharing the eating habits that best help me manage my mild gastroparesis. I hope they can help others dealing with this condition. If you also have gastroparesis, it’s best to consult with your doctor before making any changes to how you eat.

Update: Greetings from January 2024 me! I’m updating this article that was originally published in July 2018 with new information gleaned from my journey with gastroparesis for the past five years. I strive to make this blog as helpful as possible, so I feel like jumping back into older posts and sharing “where I am now” is helpful for readers. Read on for more updates woven into this article. Thanks!

Disclosure: This blog is reader-supported, which means this post contains affiliate links and advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you amazing content. Thank you! ~Angela

I eat more frequently. (When I’m not fasting.)

My new eating pattern is:

  • Breakfast
  • Late morning snack
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon snack
  • Dinner
  • Evening snack

I try to eat six times per day to avoid having big, heavy meals that get stuck in my stomach. This shift has lessened my nausea significantly.

I eat smaller portions.

Although I’m eating six times per day, the amount of food on my plate has shrunk. Eating small meals means my stomach has less to process and push through my system each time I eat.

At first eating less was hard. I was often hungry until my next small meal or snack, but over time the body adjusts. Now (2024), I feel satiated after much smaller meals and notice fewer gastroparesis flare-ups.

I drink lots of liquids.

Before my diagnosis, I noticed that I felt best when I had smoothies, creamy or broth soups, fresh juices or didn’t eat at all. My doctor said having liquid meals or snacks is still a good idea because they are easier to digest.

Update: In the summer of 2023, I had my biggest gastroparesis flare of all time. I had just finished a huge plate of food (I know, I know) after a fun day of cooking and meal prepping. Everything looked so yummy, so I ate way too much!

About an hour after I ate, I noticed the heavy gut feeling, and proceeded to vomit several times throughout the evening. I wasn’t even able to keep water down the rest of the evening.

The next day I tried a small amount of food, and it wouldn’t stay down. I knew the muscles at the base of my stomach were stuck shut and I immediately had to go into gastroparesis flare mode. Liquids only — and consume them very slowly! For the next week, I was only able to manage fruit juice (to help stabilize blood sugars), water and broth soups. Eventually, I graduated to creamy soups.

I listened to my body for cues that my stomach was processing foods again and emptying the contents into my intestines. What are the signs you may ask? The first thing I noticed was my stomach gurgling. Then, I eventually passed some gas and started to have small bowel movements. I was so excited!

After I noticed my system was moving again, I started eating soft, easy-to-digest food including scrambled Just Egg (vegan eggs), soups with soft cooked vegetables (minestrone, potato, etc.) and lots of water to keep everything flowing.

After a few conversations with my gastroenterologist and my neurologist, we feel this flare was brought on by my new migraine prevention medication, Topamax. I’ve written about this experience more extensively in this blog post, “3 Reasons I Stopped Taking My Migraine Prevention Medicine.

I eat cooked vegetables.

As a vegetarian, I love a colorful salad or fresh veggie and dip tray. Although I still enjoy those things, they are in moderation. Instead, I’m focusing more on cooked vegetables since they are already partially broken down and easier to digest. Bring on the grilled asparagus, mashed cauliflower and sauteed zucchini!

I do yoga.

With the help of my therapeutic yoga instructor, I’ve learned a few new yoga positions that use props to stimulate digestion by gently massaging the abdomen. I’ve been using these techniques to encourage food to move along in my delayed system.

I fast occasionally.

With the approval of my doctor, I will do short liquid fasts (12 hours) to give my digestive system a little break since it has to work extra hard to move food around. I actually feel best during these times because there’s no nausea or bowling-ball-in-the-gut feeling that’s common with gastroparesis.

Update: I’ve been learning a lot about fasting via Dr. Terry Wahl’s from the University of Iowa and her book, The Wahl’s Protocol.  I’m now doing longer fasts (14-16 hours) to help heal from autoimmunity, but a nice side effect is fewer gastroparesis flare-ups!

Until next time,
Choose healthy!
Angela

PS: Would you like me to write on a health and wellness topic for your publication? I partner with several marketing agencies and platforms including Skyword, Contently and ClearVoice. Request me as a writer.  You can also learn more about my writing service at WebWritingAdvice.com. Thank you! ~ Angela Tague

Note: This blog post was last updated on February 5, 2024.

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2 comments

    • Angela Tague says:

      I went to a lovely little restaurant and they made them for me! I have never ventured into homemade sushi rolls. Instead, I make sushi bowls…all the same ingredients, layered in a bowl. It’s just as tasty, in my opinion! ~ Angela

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