Gastroparesis and FODMAPs

Let me introduce you to Stephanie Torres, a health coach and FODMAPer with a personal history of digestive issues.

Image 4  Stephanie shares her thoughts on gastroparesis and the low FODMAP diet.  Gastroparesis  is a condition in which there is a delay in the emptying of food from the stomach. It can be quite debilitating.  The low FODMAP diet seems to be quite helpful for some individuals with gastroparesis, but there is not research to support its use for treatment of this disorder at this time.

Here’s Stephanie’s post for you.

It wasn’t until the spring of 2012…living on a doctor recommended diet of soft foods like applesauce, pear sauce, fruit juices and smoothies, broths (often with onions and garlic added), low fat yogurts, gluten free breads and waffles, and using honey/agave for sweeteners, that I knew something was wrong.  Each day felt like I was 9 months pregnant even though my calorie intake was minimal.  After refusing to accept what was happening and lots of research I decided to get tested for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).  I traveled all the way to John’s Hopkins for this test and to see a specialist trained as an integrated gastroenterologist and nutritionist.  With positive results, it was strongly advised to follow a low-FODMAP diet.  So the adventures begin. 

As digestive distress and food intolerances continue to rise, so do the number of acronyms used to try and make sense of it all.  It’s like learning a new language with words I can only compare to looking into a bowl of alphabet soup. alphabet soup The letters float together but make no sense!  Have you ever let the doctors office with a diagnosis wondering, “what do all of these strange and foreign sounding words mean?”

Here’s a brief history about myself that some of you might be able to relate to.  When I was first diagnosed with stomach problems at the age of 19, the beginning of my digestive journey began with the term GERD (now that is a strange sound if I ever heard one!) and shortly thereafter, IBS.  I left grieving over a list of my favorite foods to avoid.  No more tomato sauce, orange juice or spicy foods?  Okay, sure, I can avoid these if it means the heartburn will go away.  Time passed, the health challenges continued and the “alphabet soup diet” expanded.  Next came GF and LF (gluten free and lactose free) as a way to help relieve symptoms.  Luckily, I live in a health conscious town so, though difficult, options were available.  Shortly after that when the stomach pain continued, came the big diagnosis that would drastically change my life.  Gastroparesis, otherwise known as GP, is a condition which translates to delayed gastric emptying, reducing the ability of the stomach to empty it’s contents.  There is no physical blockage and for most the cause is unknown, or idiopathic.  The recommended “GP diet” consists of low-fat and low-fiber foods which empty the quickest.  It is common to rely on meals such as juice, soups, smoothies, apple and pear sauces, white flour products and low fat dairy.

After years of pain and bloating, a long list of medical conditions, and then diagnosis of SIBO, my head was spinning with anxiety.  Then the light began to shine when I finally hit the gold mine after discovering Kate’s website and her knowledge of FODMAPs.  Learning how to incorporate this into an already restricted diet was a challenge but at this point I would try anything!

With copies of her handouts and a list of general GP friendly foods (for many of us this can vary depending on severity), I created a combined chart to keep it as clear and simple as possible.

CLICK HERE for Stephanie’s Combo GP-FODMAPs chart!

The GP Low-FODMAP guide not only helped me but those I worked with as a health coach dealing with similar issues. For anyone out there living with gastroparesis who hasn’t found any relief, I highly recommend trying to avoid FODMAPs for a few weeks and see if your symptoms improve. {Although be sure to be tested for celiac disease before removing wheat from your diet and consult with your health care professional first!} With any restricted diet it is always helpful to work with a trained dietitian or nutritionist familiar with this approach.  From my own experience as well as working with others, I’ve seen the difference it can make.

My best advice…

1)  Focus on the foods you CAN have as opposed to what you can’t.

2)  Even with limitations, foods can still be beautifully and tastefully prepared.  Use fresh herbs and spices allowed.  Carrots and ginger, zucchini and parsley, bananas and cinnamon, etc.

3)  Take 3 deep breaths before a meal and be grateful for each sip or bite, slowly savoring the flavors.  Learn to love what you CAN take in and you will be surprised it might just love you back!

Check out Stephanie’s site here.

Another wonderful resource for living well with gastroparesis is Crystal Saltrelli’s site and books.  Check out Crystal’s site here!