Scientific research is needed to help understand what diet will work best for each person with gastroparesis. Currently, dietary advice is based on observations of what foods normally tend to promote or delay gastric emptying.
A registered dietician (RD) or nutrition support specialist (nurse or doctor) can help design a dietary plan to meet individual needs. The dietician will work with the patient to find the balance of solid, semi-solid, and liquids that works best for the individual.
Attention should be paid to ensure that proper nutritional requirements are met. Nutrients are the substances in foods needed to maintain health. They include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. The goal in treating gastroparesis is to adjust the balance of nutrients, not eliminate any nutrients.
In persons with diabetes, blood glucose levels will need to be controlled as well as possible. Blood glucose levels go up after stomach contents empty into the small intestine, and this is irregular in gastroparesis.
Most people with gastroparesis do well with frequent, small meals that are low in fat and fiber. Fat, fiber, and large meals can delay stomach emptying. Eating 4–6 small meals daily will help to maintain proper nutrition.
In general, eggs, peanut butter, and lean meats can provide adequate protein. Foods that can be easily chewed should be selected, and food chewed well before swallowing. If necessary, solid foods can be liquefied in a blender by adding liquid such as juice or water. Cooked or juiced vegetables are usually well tolerated.
Foods to avoid include coarse fruits and vegetables, foods with seeds, nuts, and indigestible skins or husks. Carbonated beverages can worsen distension and bloating.
Additional support can be provided by adding nutritional supplements, such as caloric drinks, protein powders, or protein bars.
Avoid or reduce alcohol and smoking tobacco. They can slow gastric emptying.
Adapted from IFFGD Publication: Gastroparesis (Delayed Gastric Emptying) by J. Patrick Waring, MD, Digestive Healthcare of Georgia, Atlanta, GA; and William F. Norton, Communications Director, International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Milwaukee, WI.