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  • Nikki Gepner

Gastroparesis: Symptoms and Solutions

Gastroparesis is a condition of slow stomach emptying that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. People with gastroparesis often mention getting full quickly, nausea during and after eating and reflux.  Read below to learn more about common signs of gastroparesis, how to get enough nutrition if you have it, and potential causes.


Symptoms of Gastroparesis

person doubled over with stomach pain
  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food

  • Bloating

  • Abdominal pain

  • Lack of appetite 

  • Weight loss

  • Reflux, heartburn

  • Constipation and/or diarrhea

  • Increased difficulty managing blood sugars


Getting Enough Nutrition with Gastroparesis

Meeting nutrition needs is easier when eating more times during the day, for instance, eating 5-6 times instead of 3-4 since this allows for smaller volume each time you eat.  Liquids are generally tolerated better than solid foods because they leave the stomach faster.  Some find alternating liquid meals with solid food meals helpful instead of doing just one or the other all day. 


People with gastroparesis tend to digest foods better when they are low fiber and either low fat or in blended form.  Below is a list of foods that are tolerated by many dealing with slow digestion.

  • White rice

shredded chicken with white rice
  • White or yellow potatoes without skin

  • Arugula (raw or cooked)

  • Cucumber, peeled

  • Scrambled eggs

  • 2% Milk, low-fat yogurt

  • Meal replacement shakes/protein shakes/smoothies

  • Ground or shredded chicken or turkey breast

  • Fish

  • Melon

  • Banana

  • Zucchini, peeled and cooked until soft enough to mash with fork

  • Carrots, peeled and cooked until soft enough to mash with fork

  • Green beans, cooked until soft enough to mash with fork

  • Sourdough bread

  • Tofu

  • Rice cakes

  • Rice crackers

  • Nut butter

  • Macadamia nuts


To manage eating with nausea

steaming hot cup of tea
  • Try ginger or peppermint tea, either hot or cold

  • Cold foods or foods with a mild smell may be better tolerated than strong-smelling foods

  • If possible, have someone else cook for you, sometimes cooking smells make nausea worse

  • Stay hydrated; dehydration can make nausea worse

  • Try starting the day with an electrolyte drink or smoothie; going long periods of time without eating during waking hours can make nausea worse


Get B12 levels checked

  • B12 is frequently low in people with gastroparesis. B12 deficiency may add to the nerve damage that can impair digestive motility. Levels should ideally be 400 or higher. Do not take a B12 supplement the day of a blood draw as this will cause falsely high results.


What Causes Gastroparesis?

It used to be thought that gastroparesis was mainly caused by chronic high blood sugars seen with diabetes but now we are starting to see and increasing number of people diagnosed with gastroparesis that do not have a history of diabetes. Causes of gastroparesis other than diabetes may include:

  • Viral infections which may cause temporary or long-term changes to the motility of the digestive tract

  • Surgery that involves the stomach or damages the vagus nerve

  • Anorexia and malnutrition

  • Medications: narcotics, THC, progesterone, nicotine, lithium, some antidepressants and blood pressure medications, GLP-1 agonists (Ozempic, Mounjaro, Wegovy, Byetta, Trulicity and Zepbound)

  • Chronic health conditions: Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, amyloidosis and scleroderma

  • Sometimes the cause is unknown and may be diagnosed as idiopathic


Conclusion

Gastroparesis is a challenging condition that requires a comprehensive management plan tailored to the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause. If you experience symptoms of gastroparesis, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Understanding and addressing the symptoms early can help manage the condition effectively and improve quality of life.


This blog is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation.

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