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Diet Intervention for Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis means stomach (gastro) paralysis (paresis). Other terms used to describe this condition are: gastric stasis, gastropathy, slow stomach, sluggish stomach and diabetic enteropathy (in those patients who have diabetes mellitus). Under normal conditions, the stomach is a flexible sac that can stretch and shrink, mix and churn, and eventually empty food into the small intestine. The word gastroparesis is used when a patient’s stomach empties too slowly. Everyone’s stomach is unique, so the ability of the stomach to empty can from one patient to another.

Some can still eat small amounts of regular foods; they just have to eat more often to get all their nutrients in. Others may have periods when all they can take in is liquids, and still others may have periods when they cannot take anything at all. Despite this most patients are able to swallow and empty their saliva (about 1 quart per day) and also empty the natural stomach juices they make (about 2-3 quarts per day).Symptoms can vary from week-to-week or even day-to-day.

The diet presented here is designed to give tips for diet modification. In addition, lots of suggestions are provided for foods and fluids to try when ideas run dry at home. I want to make it clear that the suggestions are based on my experience with patients and not science, as there are no studies available that demonstrate what foods are better tolerated than others by patients with gastroparesis. Furthermore, any calorie is a goodcalorie, especially in someone who has lost a lot of weight and is now facing the possibility of tube or intravenous feeding to provide nourishment. This may be a time when prior dietary restrictions are put on hold until basic nutritional needs can be met.

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Diet Intervention for Gastroparesis