Gastroparesis Diet: What To Eat During a Flare? | Care+Wear

Gastroparesis Diet: What To Eat During a Flare?

About the AuthorGrace is a 24-year-old chronic illness warrior living in Portland, Oregon. She runs an Instagram account @graceharestad dedicated to physical and mental health advocacy! 

My Diagnosis Journey

I was diagnosed with gastroparesis in 2018 after showing symptoms of it for most of my life. Unfortunately, due to other conditions I have, my gastroparesis has gotten a lot worse since then and my symptoms have continued to progress. Gastroparesis is basically partial or total paralysis of the stomach, which leads to nausea, vomiting, vomiting undigested food from hours or days prior, severe bloating, stomach pain, and in rare cases, it can lead to death due to complications from malnutrition. Gastroparesis, like a lot of rare diseases, doesn’t have a cure. There are simply ways to manage the disease and hopefully improve or maintain quality of life. There are times I don’t show any symptoms of gastroparesis, and there are other times where I flare up and I can’t eat solid food for weeks at a time. This can be really dangerous, it's not fun or safe to be starving for weeks on end. I am writing today to give you some tips and tricks on how to get through flare ups of gastroparesis, and the foods I eat (more like drink) to get me through safely. 

My Go-To Foods

When it comes to eating during a gastroparesis flare, it really varies on how I am feeling and what I am in the mood for. I don’t live my entire life in a GP flare (thankfully), but I always live with gastroparesis in mind. I like to keep in mind foods that can provide me with the most nutrition and calories when solid foods just won’t work. I also have Celiac disease which means I can have absolutely no gluten. Some other foods I’m intolerant to but can have on special occasions are soy, dairy, and corn. So obviously while some of my food choices may be different than the average person’s, they can still be helpful to those with GP or digestion issues! Here some things I always have on hand:

  • Soft foods: Foods like mashed potatoes, gluten-free gravy, and applesauce in varying flavors like apricot, peach, and mango are easy to digest and won’t be too hard on the stomach.
  • Soups and Broths: I almost always keep bone broth in my freezer not just because I like the taste, but also because bone broth is really dense in nutrients. I keep other broths in stock as well like chicken, beef, and veggie. I buy lots of soups, but I have to be extra cautious since soups are a great place for gluten to be hidden. 
  • Rice: I buy a lot of rice for the days my GP symptoms aren’t terrible and I need something that's going to fill me up more. Rice can be a good way to pack in calories, nutrients, and fibers!
  • Smoothies: I always keep lots of frozen fruits and veggies around to make smoothies! Sometimes these are still too hard on my stomach but they are a great option. I order pre-packaged smoothies from Revive that I just grab out of the freezer and throw in the blender with some coconut milk! 
  • Sweet Treats: When I have a sweet tooth, I buy hard candies and just let them dissolve in my mouth. I also make and buy my own popsicles! They’re an easy way to get both hydration and calories. Dairy-free ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, jello are also great options. Foods that you would think to eat with a sore throat, I found have been the “safest” for me to consume during a flare! 

Hydration is Key!

One of the hardest parts for me is staying hydrated, especially because I have multiple comorbidities, which is just a fancy way of saying “having multiple conditions at once.” One of those conditions is POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome, and one of the most important things to do for both GP and POTS is to hydrate!! At all times in my house, I make sure I have Gatorade, Drip Drop which is an electrolyte powder that mixes into a glass of water, vitamin water, various juices, and of course water. It can get pretty boring trying to stay hydrated with just water, and it's also not always possible, so my gastroparesis is another reason that I receive IV fluids for hydration anywhere from 4-7 times a week. Sometimes having too much liquid in my stomach just adds to my GP symptoms or it's just not possible to drink enough water to sustain my body, so IV hydration has been helpful.

Find What Works For You

When it comes to eating during a flare, I like to come prepared and make a list before going grocery shopping, but I always see things when I am actually there that I didn’t think of. When making food choices, I think of things that are dense in nutrients and calories, but also “pre-digested” so my stomach has to do as little work as possible. It's been quite a bit of trial and error, and I am still learning new ideas for foods and pureed recipes. Overall I have a pretty good grasp on what works for my body for a flare and what doesn’t. It is totally different for everyone, and some of the things I may be able to eat you might not be able to tolerate! This is not medical advice as I have no formal education in nutrition or medicine, These are just some ideas of things that help get me through tough times. I hope you’ve found this helpful, and remember that just because you have a medical diet or limitations, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat delicious foods!

 

For a more comprehensive list of foods you should eat and avoid with gastroparesis, click here

What are some other foods you can eat during a flare? Let us know in the comments or email us at wecare@careandwear.com. We love hearing from our community members!

17 Responses

Lynette

Lynette

September 17, 2021

I have found acupuncture helps. My doctor does 2 treatments a week for 6 weeks, then a break with a treatment at 3 week intervals. I’ve had a flare up now for the last 2 weeks because I’ve been almost 6 weeks without a treatment. My doc went away for a month and I was away for 2 weeks before. My GI doc wants me to try regular small doses of erythromycin. Has anyone else tried that?

Kelly Shapleigh

Kelly Shapleigh

September 17, 2021

I have finally figured out my problem after years of occasional suffering to now on a 3wk suffering. The one thing no one else has mentioned is mine always starts with stink burps then to vomiting things I ate days ago then I usually starve myself for 24 hrs n start w fluid n a BRAT diet what I like to call resetting my belly. I cant seem to shake it this time 3wks now I’m so hungry I’m also hypoglycemic creating another issue I’m looking for things I can do at home right when I get my first sign that my stomach doing as its suppose to. I’ve been searching the internet for any ideas at home no meds just natural ways to wake up the vagus nerve. Ty

lindy kanaday

lindy kanaday

September 17, 2021

Reading these have helped so much! I have GP and pelvic floor dyssynergia so digestion is kind of out of the question for me ha! I just recently got diagnosed after 7 years of surgeries and tests so I feel good to finally have an answer, but I’m sure we all weren’t hoping for this anwer. I’m a sophomore in college and I’m going through a flare up right now and it’s so hard to watch all my friends go out and be the one who is constantly missing stuff, but hearing y’all’s stories has helped because I don’t feel like I’m not the only person who is sick all the time :)

Dell

Dell

September 17, 2021

Hello everyone I haven’t been diagnosed with gastroparesis yet but it looks like that could be the issue! Been dealing with this since April and I still don’t have answers have lost weight and I’ve changed my diet also no fried foods, fast foods! Etc,,, thanks for letting me vent and share I’m learning from everyone on here🌷🌷

Sheila Hubbard

Sheila Hubbard

September 17, 2021

I have had gastroperisis since I was 15 I am now gonna be 31 soon and I had emergency surgery 2 years ago to remove half my stomach and intestines because they were paralyzed I had a feeding tube which didn’t work I had lost so much weight I was just bone I have since gotten all that weight plus some back on and I have been having flare ups I also cannot take meds in pill form because they just sit in my body and do nothing u til they drop and I am worse due to all the meds so I am liquid meds only I a. Wondering could I need to go back in and have tests done to see if I have messed up my surgery or if I’m just getting worse.

Mary

Mary

July 30, 2021

Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It’s been a terrible long three weeks of this pain and nausea. Plus several trips to the ER. The only thing that helps me is liquids, no solid food. I’m trying Slippery Elm Bark, I’ll let you know if it works, and if can keep it down.

Brenda

Brenda

July 20, 2021

Thanks for all the information. This is what I love about the internet. Knowledge from experience. Not a book. Thank you.

Guys, I dont know it i have what tou do

Guys, I dont know it i have what tou do

July 08, 2021

I can only east one part of a real meal every couple of days. Salad, some cheese, w. vinegar seem to help me, carbs and fried foods seem to hurt me. Bright side, I’ve lost 22 lbs in about a month

Mercedes Smith

Mercedes Smith

July 08, 2021

Omg. This article is everything I needed to hear. I’m having a very terrible journey and it’s so unfortunate for me. I’ve been misdiagnosed for years and no one will beg to listen. Numerous counts to the ER for delayed gastric emptying and not one test or GI doctor willing to work me up for gastroparesis. My food sits in my stomach for hours at a time to a point where now it hurts so bad I am balled up in a corner from hyperemesis from the gastric juices and food sitting in my belly for so long. It’s a terrible pain that’s unrelieved by my IBS and diverticulosis. Some days I am unable to leave out for work as a registered nurse, on time because I am so nauseated, in pain and still throwing up the night before’s food. Some days I only eat or drink once a day and that still bothers me. My main issue is getting nutrients and vitamins because I am unable to digest vitamins and liquids because the flare up is so bad. I’ve tried ensures which are said to be gluten and lactose free however they obtain fake sugars and those sugars aren’t good for diets that are low in fodmaps. Gut bacteria produces more gas which increases bloating. In severe cases the bloating is so bad that I have to sleep on my side to breathe at night. My doctor prescribes me Reglan and Bentyl but only for a month or weeks at a time because they are concerned for “ep side effects” however my stomach completely paralyzes, induces vomiting, anorexia, nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain that is terribly life altering. Glad to know about the IV drip drops even tho I may not be able to digest, I can try small sips throughout the days! Because I’ve been suffering from a little high blood pressure however, it’s been relieved by fluids so I believe I’ve been dehydrated so I am completely sure I am malnourished as well.

Andrea Edwards

Andrea Edwards

July 08, 2021

After researching & reading about the experiences of others, I now realize I’ve had Gastroparesis for years if not decades. I recently had 2 rather severe instances & appreciate the information shared by others. Now I need to consult with my GI & address the growing list of related questions about food allergies, chronic pain, pain medication (opiates), anxiety, migraine, migraine medication, vagus nerve response, timing of ingesting food, hydration, etc.

Sue Gilchrist

Sue Gilchrist

June 16, 2021

I’ve been diagnosed with GP since cancer, in 2012 and again in 2018. I had a flare six days ago. My treatment is diet managed. Flares mean a heating pad for crippling abdominal pain and panicky runs to the bathroom. I try to hydrate ( water, chicken bone broth, electrolyte replacement drinks and a small amount of saltines crackers). For me, the pain is my worst symptom. The treatments can be complex, difficult and so frustrating! I continue to research reliable medical and journal reports. You might find current medical studies with relevant information. Being updated, helps me formulate necessary questions for my physician. I feel empowered with the knowledge and hopeful. I have other medical issues, so I feel overwhelmed at times. I am currently in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO or HBOT) 4 days a week. I am being treated for delayed radiation injury to my digestive system. The treatment has provided amazing relief of my gastroparesis symptoms. For me, it’s been truly a wonder! Nearly, no pain while I am in the chamber! And when I’m receiving 100% oxygen, my intestinal track rumbles noisily. It doesn’t do that much regularly because I’m so paralyzed. It makes me laugh at the time! Another element of my plan of recovery involves deep meditation, in my daily life and in the hyperbaric chamber. I practice deep breathing and relaxation methods. Those practices very much improve the quality of my life. I am very grateful for the methods that have been taught to me, and filled with gratitude for the physicians who provided me with the opportunity of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It may not be for everyone, it depends on diagnoses and insurance. For me, truly a blessing! I believe in our magnificent bodies. I believe with kindness and care, meditation and prayer, and our remarkable abilities to self-heal, our bodies will respond with amazing improvements. It takes time, but so worth it. Gastroparesis is a growing concern for the medical community and the patients who suffer. More research needs to be the focus for all who are impacted by this disease. We need answers! So continue to ask questions. Trust the process.
I hope this helps! Thanks for your time.

Amanda Jones

Amanda Jones

June 07, 2021

Hi y’all, also a chronic GP sufferer with many other autoimmune diseases. The best and most important tip I’ve come across is to avoid FODMAP foods. In my case, that’s primarily garlic and onion which are in everything!! I also have to avoid corn, corn gluten and corn products like maltodextrin. It can be a serious pain to research and track, but I suggest looking up fodmap foods at a minimum to see if it helps. I’ve found nothing too unusual to help with a flare besides those mentioned; fasting; rest; staying hydrated; sometimes prednisone helps; and frequently I use my prescription Reglan – specifically chewed up and dissolved under the tongue so my sublingual vein can absorb and help with digestion. Reglan comes with risks but when I can’t digest anything – let alone a pill – that helps tremendously. Like another commenter, I also use cbd for digestion, pain and rest and recommend looking for a good one.

Marsha Ansted

Marsha Ansted

May 07, 2021

Hi ladies! I am a type 1 diabetic and also have gastroparesis. For nausea, I am prescribed Marinol, which is a synthetic form of cannabis. 5 mg of Marinol is the best anti-nausea remedy for me, and I have taken all of them. It’s a very safe drug, and even helps to stimulate appetite. I would love to connect with others who suffer from gastroparesis for support and to exchange ideas! Thank you Grace for designing this community of GP Warriors! I’ve got at least 20 years on you, LOL, but I admire your strength, honesty, and willingness to connect!

Trina

Trina

May 07, 2021

Oh dear lord,
I thought I was the only one suffering. 18 yrs of going through everything that was mentioned in article as well as comments, if you all have a support group or any info please share also soaking in the tub helps if its not too bad of a flare up

Jessica

Jessica

May 07, 2021

I’m curious about how im supposed to survive when these flair ups come. I can’t keep a vitamin down. Its just non stop vomiting

Barbara

Barbara

April 27, 2021

I have gastroparesis also I was so severe that they had to put his stomach stimulator in me. The doctor said did the surgery don’t seem to want to answer any of my questions like how can I go a week without feeling sick and then the nausea comes back with the vengeance for weeks on end. They’re only answer is go to the emergency room. I have lost a lot of weight in the last 6 months I can’t afford to lose anymore. I try eating soup broth but within a few bites on full and then I’m sick all over again I’m taking nausea pills constantly I’m running out of ideas I’m so desperate for help to get rid of this nausea and the pain that I’m in if you have any advice for me please email me. Sincerely, Barbara weitzer

Dana Whitfield

Dana Whitfield

April 12, 2021

I’m having a flare right now – going on 4 days now. I also am sensitive to gluten, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. I find that when I’m flaring up, everything I eat hurts. I’m feeling a little sorry for myself today 🙄. Thanks for your helpful tips. I was diagnosed with GP several years ago and have been living in denial since then. It’s getting progressively worse, flare ups more often, in pain almost daily – thankfully no hospital visits, though!

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