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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!

6 Responses

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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