What is a Gastroparesis-Friendly Diet?

Jan 18, 2017 by

You can have me read this article to you instead of reading it yourself…

Or you can read it the old-fashioned way below…


So what makes a diet gastroparesis friendly?

I asked a purposely leading question right there.  I wanted to ask it that way because it makes my answer much more clear – no one thing.  

Gastroparesis Diet Misguidance

We have all heard and read about the gastroparesis diets that recommend certain things, such as low-fat foods and low-fiber foods.  We have read about only eating soft foods and liquids, and have even been told to convert our meals to more liquid forms by blending or juicing them.

Because of these recommendations, there is now a conception that there is such a thing as a “gastroparesis-friendly” food.  But I’m here to tell you that this is just not true.  And thinking this way often leads people to overlook foods that they might tolerate quite well, or focus on eating things that they hate and that they do not tolerate well at all.  It results in restricted diets that keep each of us from being well-nourished and feeling our best.

Gastroparesis Diet Truths

I’m not a dietician, but I can speak from my education in nutrition and my many, many years with this condition:

Your diet is your diet; your gastroparesis-friendly foods are those that are friendly to you

So it does not hurt to start at those websites and cookbooks that recommend low-fat and low-fiber; that identify various liquids and soft foods that might be more agreeable to the challenged stomach.  But you should never stop there.  You should keep going.  You should re-challenge foods that you enjoy.  You should try foods that you think maybe, just maybe, are items that you can tolerate.

There are going to be foods that almost no one with gastroparesis will be able to tolerate, such as raw vegetables or thick fruit peels and skins (these are highly fibrous and even the healthy stomach has trouble breaking these down sometimes – such as lettuce and carrots).

But some people will be able to eat an entire breast of chicken, whereas others can’t go anywhere near meat.  Some people will be able to drink a fruit smoothie, where the mere thought of such a thing would make many others sick.  And some people will be able to eat greasy, fatty pizza, but not a yogurt with granola.

It’s a strange condition.  What Can I Say?

The only real rules to developing your gastroparesis diet are these:

  • Go Slow. Don’t challenge yourself with too many things at once.  If you are having a rough day, stick with what you know.
  • Try One Thing at a Time. While it might seem faster to expand your diet by multiple items at once, if one of those items makes you sick, you won’t know which one did it.  So try one thing at a time and see how you do with it.  Then try something else the next day.
  • Keep Track. Pay attention to what does and does not work for you.  Recognize if there is a limit to how much you can eat of any one thing.  Write it down if you have to.
  • Recognize Trends. If you notice similarities between food items that don’t work for you, then look for that similarity in something new that you want to try and know in advance that it might not be worth your time.  The opposite is true as well – if you notice similarities between items that go down well, note those similarities in other items that you haven’t yet tried.
  • Give Yourself a Break.  Don’t make any effort to live up to anyone else’s expectations for where you should be right now (and that might even include your own expectations for yourself!).  Your body will tolerate what it will tolerate, and you will make progress every day, even if it is in small measures.  Focus on the progress, not the lack thereof.
  • Ignore Every Other “Rule”.  As long as you follow these rules, you can throw out any others that anyone tries to apply to you.  It is your body and your gastroparesis, and it will impact you differently than the next person.  Once you have taken the time to find foods and a diet that you can handle, then you can start to reincorporate the other stuff, like nutritional balance.

I have published some additional articles that discuss the way that we can overcome limitations with our diets by blending, juicing, steaming, and/or cooking. or instance – did you know that blending breaks down your food differently than steaming, and may work for some people and not others? These articles talk about why that is, and also give you tips on how to figure out which approach might work best for you.

Interested in more information on Gastroparesis?

Next: Gastroparesis Resources

Or refer back to the Gastroparesis Info Hub.


Trivia and Terminology:

Low-Fiber is a misleading term because there are many different types of fiber.  For instance, the fiber in an overripe pear is easily digested and good for the body.  The fiber in a head of lettuce, on the other hand, is incredibly difficult to digest.

My Comfort Foods are great examples of everyone being very different.  I eat mozarella cheese melted onto whole-wheat noodles when I am not doing well.  And I can’t eat vegetables unless they are steamed into piles of mush.


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