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!

17 replies on “Gastroparesis and FODMAPs

  • Cathie O

    Thank you. Great information. I too suffer from GP and colonic inertia, chronic severe constipation and have found FODMAPS helpful!

  • Colleen

    As the caretaker of a GPer trying the FODMAP diet, I’d love more info on GP-friendly FODMAP recipes. A lot of the FODMAP recipes I’ve found online just won’t work for GPers because of the fruit/vegetaables used, seeds, nuts, etc. It can be quite frustrating.

  • CateK

    My history sounds very similar. Diabetic, SIBO, slow gastric emptying, low motility. I too would be interested in FODMAP guidance regarding GP-issues. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for sharing this Kate! The handout link ins a great start for people with GP and looking to lower FODMAPs and will continue to follow your website to keep it updated. As far as recipes go, I will try to provide more in time in my blog. In addition, there is a support group available which you can also find on the website.
    To anyone who shares a similar story, stay strong and know you are not alone!

  • Liesel

    Recently I have experimented with a low FODMAP diet and am currently going through a very strict version (something I had not done before). My journey is in the beginning stages and I know it’s going to take time to figure out which foods are triggers and those that may be consumed in moderation (oh how I hope). I’m curious, with some following a low FODMAP diet have you noticed any patterns, such as intolerance to fructans by not polyols? Once I have been “off high FODMAPs” for a while I will be noting which foods are bothersome. I will be categorizing them to find out if there are any patterns.

    • katescarlata

      Liesel, It seems that mannitol is less of a problem for my patients and this is consistent with the research. Fructans are tough for everyone. Some have a little more wiggle room but most people can’t eat too many of them. Good luck!

  • Elizabeth Neill

    Is pineapple a GP-FODMAP allowed food? It’s not listed on the chart, but I’ve seen it on other GP and FODMAP food lists. Thanks for your wonderful chart!

  • Joy T.

    Thank you for this information. I share it when possible. I also have gp and your story is similar to mine. I’ve been on a FODMAP diet since my dx of SIBO. I knew I needed to do something, anything…I’ve tried so many diets and elimination diets to no success.the fodmap diet has been successful. Rarely bloated nauseous as much. It didn’t cure me, but I didn’t expect it to. It’s just given me more relief than any other diet or medication. Please keep up the sharing of information, very helpful and appreciated.

  • donna

    I am on the low FODMAP diet also have GPIB yes and I think it’s wonderful it’s really working for me and there’s a great gluten free peanut butter cookie recipe that is out there if anyone wants the recipe they could contact me thank you

  • Brittney

    Thank you SO much for the combined chart! I can take this with me when I go shopping…I’m just starting the FODMAP diet and have GP, so this is amazing!

  • Debbie

    Hi Kate, I don’t know if you will remember me, I attended your Fodmap conference for dietitians in Philly earlier this month 5/3/14 and shared with you my struggles of following a very low Fodmap diet for my IBS-C for the past year in a half. While I have had some improvement, still was having lots of bloating/constipation etc. You suggested testing for SIBO, which turned out positive (unable to determine if methane +). I am starting on xifaxan 550mg Tidx14 days, as well as Amitza 8 mg q day and Align q day. In the past I have tested positive for lactose intolerance and believe I have NC -gluten intolerance…tested negative in past, but poor tolerance of Patsy’s low Fodmap seitan recipe. My GI doctor told me to “just follow my usual diet during treatment “and no specific recommendations for what to do after the antibiotics. I was wondering what your recommendations would be regarding how to increase/ liberalize the Fodmap diet during tx, w/o terribly upsetting my stomach. Would you suggest just increasing the amounts of fruits, veggies, Greek yogurt I currently eat or adding wheat bread and trying lentils etc… Also very interested in what your experience has been with the type of diet to follow post tx to help prevent SIBO from returning…. ie low Fodmap alone or w/ SCD… Sorry to for the long post, I have been doing research on my own, but even as I dietitian I am feeling stuck and confused about the best way to proceed. It is my hope to not only improve my GI issues but to help others through education on the Fodmap diet:-) Kate, thank you in advance! Any suggestions you have or resources for further reading would be much appreciated!!!

Comments are closed.