As part of my dysautonomia, one of the conditions I have is gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a paralysis of the stomach, and it causes delayed stomach emptying. Some people with gastroparesis have a full stomach paralysis, meaning that they can't eat any food at all because their stomachs don't empty. Instead they have to rely on tube feeds that go directly into the small intestine or on TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) that is delivered intravenously. I am very grateful that I only have a partial paralysis. On most days I need to follow a dairy free, low fat, low fiber diet because of gastroparesis. Sometimes my gastroparesis flares up, and I have to follow a soft foods, or even a liquid, diet.
In the last few weeks I have been working on recovering from my most recent gastroparesis flare. For several days I was on a mostly liquid diet. Then I was able to add in more soft foods, like pudding and applesauce. After a week I could tolerate small amounts of solid food as long as it didn't have any fat or fiber in it. I am now back to having three small meals of solid food per day, but I have to be extra careful to avoid too much fat or fiber. I also have to supplement with liquid and soft foods in order to get in enough nutrients and calories each day. It is so nice to again eat food that I can chew!
I know that many of you have chronic illnesses, but I'm not sure how many of you have gastroparesis. I want to share some of the foods that have been especially helpful for me in dealing with gastroparesis just in case it is helpful for you too. Pictured above are the foods that I have been the most helpful to me in recent weeks.
This helps with nausea associated with gastroparesis.
Gatorade (not pictured)
I don't drink Gatorade very often, but I keep it on hand for when the need arises. After going 24 hours without being able to digest any food it is important to drink Gatorade to get my electrolytes back up. I continue to drink a glass or two of Gatorade per day when I am on a clear liquid diet.
Ginger products help with nausea. Ginger ale also provides calories, and that is a really helpful thing when you have to be on a liquid diet.
Ginger Root Capsules
These are cheap and an easy way to help fight nausea.
Gin-Gins by The Ginger People
These little candies are so nice! I hadn't heard of them until this winter when a friend sent me a box of ginger products to try. These little candies have been very helpful for me when I am too nauseated to drink all of the water necessary to swallow ginger root capsules. These candies are something I can even tolerate while on an otherwise liquid diet. Having a small piece of food to eat is such a treat during liquid diet days. I also keep Gin-Gins in my purse, and William will eat a piece when he gets carsick. According to MythBusters testing results, ginger helps with motion sickness too!
Ginger Honey Crystals
A friend also recently introduced me to these ginger honey crystals. The individual packets contain honey and ginger crystals that you mix into 8oz of hot or cold water. When I am too nauseated to drink regular water, these drink mixes are so helpful! It makes a spicy and delicious drink.
Homemade Peanut Butter Cookies
These cookies only have four ingredients: peanut butter, raw sugar, one egg, and vanilla extract. I have found that I can tolerate these cookies even when on a soft food diet. This is a great way to get some protein and calories when on a restricted diet.
Pretzel Sticks and Saltine Crackers
These are solid foods that are easy on the stomach, and the salt is good for those of us with low blood volume and/or low blood pressure.
When on a clear liquid diet, jello is such a treat! It's almost like solid food, but it counts as a liquid.
Homemade Coconut Milk Pudding
I love homemade pudding, so being able to eat this helps to make a soft foods diet not quite so terrible. :)
This is a great way to get in lots of vitamins and protein in a liquid form. I used to drink Ensure, but recently discovered that Boost tastes better. It is smooth and creamy and not grainy like Ensure. Boost is water based, so it is easy to tolerate. It does have milk protein, which normally I avoid. However, when I am on a liquid diet, this is the easiest and best way for me to get protein. There are 15 grams of protein in that little 8oz bottle!
Fresh Vegetable Juice
Many years ago I was given a juicer, and it has been such a blessing! While Boost, pudding, ginger ale, and jello are a good help, they can't compare to the nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables. However, when I am on a liquid or soft foods diet, neither raw nor cooked vegetables are an option for me. Will juices carrots, beets, sweet peppers, celery, and spinach for me regularly. The juicing process takes out all of the fiber that I can't digest and leaves lots of good nutrients and vitamins. The juice shown in the picture above was made with carrots, spinach, and sweet pepper. It looks terrible, but it is so good for you, and the taste isn't too bad! I don't drink as much fresh fruit juice because when on a soft foods diet I can tolerate applesauce, cooked bananas, and coconut milk. I do have juiced apples or oranges occasionally.
Those are some of the foods that help me as I deal with gastroparesis flares. What foods are helpful for you when dealing with gastroparesis? Please let me know if you have any tips and tricks to share!