Gastroparesis Diet for Delayed Stomach Emptying
Gastroparesis is the medical term for delayed stomach emptying. During the process of digestion, the stomach must contract to empty itself of food and liquid. Normally, it contracts about three times a minute. This empties the stomach within 90-120 minutes after eating. If contractions are sluggish or less frequent, stomach emptying is delayed. This results in bothersome and sometimes serious symptoms, as well as malnutrition, because food is not being digested properly.
Gastroparesis may be caused by various conditions such as diabetes mellitus, certain disorders of the nervous system, or certain drugs. Often however, no cause can be found although a viral infection is suspected in some. Usually, the physician prescribes medication to stimulate the stomach to contract. The purpose of the gastroparesis diet is to reduce symptoms and maintain adequate fluids and nutrition. There are three steps to the diet.
STEP 1 DIET consists of liquids, which usually leave the stomach quickly by gravity alone. Liquids prevent dehydration and keep the body supplied with vital salts and minerals.
STEP 2 DIET provides additional calories by adding a small amount of dietary fat -- less than 40 gm each day. For patients with gastroparesis, fatty foods and oils should be restricted, because they delay stomach emptying. However, patients at the Step 2 level are usually able to tolerate this amount.
STEP 3 DIET is designed for long-term maintenance. Fat is limited to 50 gm per day, and fibrous foods are restricted, because many plant fibers cannot be digested.
For detailed info see the information below and “Living Well With Gastroparesis” by Crystal Zaborowski. This author also has a website, www.livingwithgastroparesis.com.
The STEP 1 Gastroparesis Diet is inadequate in all nutrients except sodium and potassium. It should not be continued for more than three days without additional nutritional support. STEP 2 and STEP 3 Gastroparesis Diets may be inadequate in Vitamins A and C, and the mineral iron. A multi-vitamin supplement is usually prescribed.
- Diets must be tailored to the individual patient. This is because the degree of gastroparesis may range from severe and long-standing to mild and easily corrected. Patients may also have various medical conditions to be considered. For example, diabetes patients with gastroparesis are allowed sugar-containing liquids on the Step 1 diet, because that is their only source of carbohydrate. On the Step 2 and Step 3 diets, these patients should avoid concentrated sweets. These are noted with an asterisk (*) on the food lists.
- On all of the diets, liquids and food should be eaten in small, frequent meals. This helps to maintain nutrition.