Gastroparesis occurs when the stomach doesn’t empty as fast it should. The food moves more slowly from the stomach into the small intestine. This can cause nausea, vomiting, weight loss, poor appetite, reflux, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and early satiety (feeling of fullness when eating).
There is not an official gastroparesis diet. The purpose of a diet for gastroparesis is to reduce the symptoms, help you feel better, and maintain adequate nutrition. Nutrition goals are to stay hydrated and provide calories, protein and essential vitamins and minerals.
General Guidelines for Gastroparesis-friendly Diets
Symptoms of gastroparesis can vary from day to day and what works for one person may not work well for another. Changing the way you eat may ease your symptoms. The following suggestions can help minimize symptoms:
- Eat small meals and snacks. Space meals out. This will minimize fullness. A small meal is 1-1 ½ cups of food
- Drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can increase symptoms of nausea. Sip liquids steadily throughout the day; don’t gulp.
- Eat nutritious foods first before filling up on snacks or empty calories. Some people find they tolerate solids better earlier in the day. Start with solids earlier in day and finish with light or liquid meal in the evening.
- Reduce fat intake. Fat naturally slows stomach emptying. Consuming foods labeled “low fat,” “nonfat,” or “fat-free” may help with symptoms. Avoid all high fat, fried or greasy foods.
- Reduce fiber intake. Fiber slows stomach emptying.
- Chew foods well. Chew all food to a mashed potato or pudding consistency. Solid foods such as meat may be tolerated if ground or pureed.
- Sit up while eating and for at least 1 hour after finishing your meal; don’t lay down.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control. Keeping your blood sugars in goal ranges (before and after meals) may decrease gastroparesis problems. High blood sugars directly interfere with normal stomach emptying.
- Alcohol should be avoided, since it can also impair gastric emptying.
Exercise has been shown to increase stomach emptying in healthy individuals and might improve symptoms. Walking after meals is recommended.