What is Gastroparesis?
It's also known as delayed gastric emptying and is where the stomach is partially or fully paralysed. This means that food moves slowly through the stomach or completely stops moving.
These are the signs and symptoms of gastroparesis:
Abdominal pain and discomfort
Feeling full very quickly when eating
Vomiting undigested food eaten a few hours earlier
Acid reflux / Heartburn
Changes in blood sugar levels
Lack of appetite
Weight loss and malnutrition
There is no cure but management strategies exist, and everyone will have different experiences.
Diagnosis is often through the following hospital tests: This is how it’s often diagnosed
Gastric emptying study (scintigraphy)
Wireless capsule test
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy
It can fluctuate from mild to severe.
People with milder gastroparesis, may experience waves or flareups of symptoms that can usually be managed with dietary intervention and/or medications. You can find more info below on this.
For people with more severe gastroparesis, more invasive methods can be used:
If getting adequate nutrition becomes an issue, tube feeding can be trialled
Enteral nutrition - through your stomach or intestine
Parenteral nutrition - directly into the bloodstream
I recently received test results showing delayed gastric emptying or also known as gastroparesis. Diagnosis in my case was through a gastric emptying study where I ate radioactive porridge and had images taken of my stomach over 4 hours.
I reached out to this community for strategies to manage. The responses and support were AMAZING.
Everyone's different and not all of these will suit each person, but this guidance has been SO helpful to me that I wanted to create this resource for others to refer to. It’s not medical advice, and was simply strategies shared by others in the community with what works for them.
This is what was recommended to do:
Aim for 4-6 small frequent meals per day
Chew food well
Sit up straight during meals
Sit or walk (for 1-2 hours) after eating rather than lying down
Eat a lower fibre diet to reduce work of digestion
Try to swap foods for Gastroparesis-friendly options rather than cutting out fully
Sip fluid throughout the day rather than drink large quantities in one go
Try nutrient rich liquids or puréed foods (particularly during a flare)
Opt for meats cooked in a pressure cooker / slow cooked that are broken down more and can be easier to digest
Listen to your stomach no matter what you crave
This is was recommended to avoid:
Avoid eating 2-3 large meals per day
Avoid high fat foods. Fat-containing liquids may be tolerated
Avoid hard to chew foods (nuts, seeds, corn etc.)
Avoid fizzy drinks including carbonated water and alcohol
Avoid raw foods, especially with skins and salads
Avoid high fibre solid foods. May be tolerated in liquid form
The Step Ladder Strategy:
This is from one patient’s experience that is the management strategy they use to cope with their gastroparesis and has worked for them
Aiming to stay on each step till your tummy seems happy for 24-48 hours
If you move up a step and it doesn’t go well, back down one step immediately
If symptoms are severe, go immediately back to step 1
Step 1. Clear Liquids
Step 2. Liquids
High calorie liquids / Meal replacement shakes
- Aymes Smoothie (vegan) not refined sugar free
- YFood (vegan) contains Splenda sweetener
- Neocate jr formula (or similar)
- Drink with Duocal supplement (or similar)
- Predigested drinks e.g. Kate Farms (or similar)
Step 3. Soft foods
Chicken noodle soup
Blended up meals
Step 4. Solid Foods
Foods that are low in fat and fibre
- this strategy works for one individual but may not work for you and is not medical advice. I’m sharing the concept so that you can create your OWN step ladder strategy to use as a management strategy with the safe steps and food types that you’ve established work for YOU. Find templates to create your own here.
The following nutritional resources were shared with me from other patients with gastroparesis as nutritional resources they found useful in their own management.
Living Well with Gastroparesis
From Crystal Saltrelli
Diet Tips for Gastroparesis
Dietary and Nutritional Recommendations for Patients with Gastroparesis
From registered dietician Emily J
Gastroparesis Nutritional Info
From registered dietician Emily J
All of these are the generous support + help that the community have shared with me to help me begin to navigate my new diagnoses. Everyone is unique so what works for some may not work for others. It's a general guide of strategies that could work, but may not necessarily. If you have anything you'd like me to add to this
page that's helped you, please reach out using the contact form below