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Ask Dr. Gourmet

What should those with gastroparesis eat?

I have been diagnosed with gastroparesis and find it difficult to find info on this eating plan. Everything I do find is so broad. Any suggestions?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Black Bean Soup

Folks with gastroparesis are challenged with what to eat, how much, and when. The condition is a delayed emptying of the stomach and is most common in diabetics. We believe that the diabetes has an effect on the nerves that stimulate the stomach and results in slowing of the normal peristaltic muscular action. In some folks we have no idea what causes the condition.

The recommendations that you have found are broad because we simply don't have a great deal of information. Generally speaking, we tell our patients to be careful with higher fat meals, as they can be an issue because fat will slow emptying of the stomach. The same holds true for alcohol. The second guideline is to stick to items that are more easily digested. For instance, tofu or beans as a protein source, rather than beef, will be somewhat easier to break down. Likewise, smaller meals more often generally helps.

Because the condition is problematic for many, but not usually severe, we simply don't have definitive research on what works the best, unfortunately. I have a few patients with primary gastroparesis, as well as many patients with diabetes who have the condition. Some medications can help, but like Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), keeping a diary of what works best for you is probably the most reliable solution. You'll find out which foods work better for you over time, but more importantly, which foods to avoid.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet