What is it?
Gastroparesis means food empties too
slowly from your stomach into your
intestines. It is also often called “delayed
Who can get it?
The most common cause is diabetes. Other
causes may be abdominal surgery and
nervous system diseases. Many medicines
can also slow stomach emptying. In some
people the cause is unclear.
What are the symptoms?
Feeling full soon after eating
Bloating after a meal
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
Blood glucose that is hard to control
How is it treated?
Treatment depends on how severe your
symptoms are. You may need to try one or
more of these treatment options:
Blood sugar control: Gastroparesis can
result from or lead to poor blood sugar
control. Ask your doctor if you need to
check your blood sugars. High blood
sugar levels can make symptoms worse.
Medicines: Your doctor may suggest
medicine which can help you feel better.
Some medicines may be used to control
nausea. Others can help the stomach
empty more quickly. Ask your doctor for
Dietary and lifestyle changes:
Changing your eating habits and food
choices may prevent or decrease some of
the symptoms. A dietitian can help you
make these changes. You should also
avoid or reduce alcohol smoking.
Why is nutrition important?
The texture, volume, frequency, and
make up of foods can affect how quickly
or slowly they empty from your
How you eat can also help. It may seem
hard to eat a balanced diet when you
don’t feel well, but nutrition is
(Try the ideas in the order listed.)
1. Eat small meals often (about 6 small
meals per day)
Larger meals cause the stomach to
empty more slowly.
Smaller meals (1 to 1 ½ cups) mean
you will need to eat more often
during the day.
Eat healthy foods first before filling
up on foods like dessert, high calorie
2. Try more liquid or semi-liquid
(blended or pureed) foods
Liquids empty the stomach easier
If symptoms get worse during day,
try solid food meals in morning,
switching to more liquid meals later
in the day.
3. Choose low fat solid foods and limit
how much fat is added to a meal.
A high fat meal takes longer to leave
your stomach. Choose healthy, low
Limit fats added during cooking.
Liquid foods that contain fat (like a
milk shake) do not slow down the
stomach emptying. Do not limit
these if you need more calories in
4. Try lower fiber foods.
A low fiber diet is 13 grams or less
Fiber is found in plant foods like
vegetables, fruits, and grains.
A high fiber diet may slow down
Certain fibers are even harder to
digest and can form a dangerous
solid mass called a “bezoar.”
Bezoars can lead to a blockage.
5. Chew foods well, especially meats.
If you don’t chew food well, the
stomach has to work harder.
Chewing food tells the stomach to
6. Try to move after eating.
If you can take a walk or get up and
move around after eating, this will
help the stomach to empty faster.
At a minimum, sit upright for at least
1 hour after eating.
7. Try a liquid nutritional supplement
These are good if you are unable to
get enough calories from the food
you eat and are losing weight.
Check with your dietitian or health
care team to find the right one for
8. Eat slowly, calmly and in a relaxed
environment. Increased stress may
make symptoms worse.
9. Do what works for you. Symptoms can
change from day to day and from one
week to the next.
10. Keep a food and symptom journal.
Write down what you ate, what time,
how much and any symptoms
This may help you figure out your
Gastroparesis affects each person in a
Food choices that may work for one
person may not work for another.
Consult with your dietitian to find foods
that work best for you
Getting enough calories
If you struggle to eat enough, make sure
everything you eat and drink gives you some
Drink whole milk, 100% juice, low fiber
smoothies, Gatorade®, sweet tea
Try Carnation Breakfast Essentials® or
other supplemental drinks like Boost®
Add foods like dry milk powder, honey
and other condiments, and use nutrition
shakes in baking and cooking.
Think about taking a daily multivitamin.
Try these foods:
Liquids and semi-solids (carbonated drinks may lead to bloating):
Milk and milkshakes
Puddings and custard
Fruits (fresh, frozen or canned):
Vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned; you may tolerate some better if cooked):
Potatoes, white, peeled
Sweet potatoes, peeled
Lean cuts of beef
Lean cuts of pork
Light cottage cheese
Yogurt (no nuts,
English muffins, white
Crackers, soda, rice
Angel food cake
Rice crispy bars
*avoid muffins containing bran, nuts and seeds
**2 grams of fiber or less per serving in cereal
Avoid these foods (some of these fruits and vegetables can cause bezoars):
Berries (small amounts
Whole grain breads
Whole grain cereals
Legumes (any beans,
peas and lentils
Sample Gastroparesis Menu
Meal Day 1 Day 2
Breakfast Low fiber toast with seedless jam
¾ cup rice cereal with 1 cup low fat milk
Snack 1 cup low fat Greek yogurt
½ cup canned peaches
½ cup low fat cottage cheese
Lunch Salad with soft lettuce, tomato, onion,
deli turkey, low fat shredded cheese,
1 cup low fat vegetable soup
½ tuna sandwich on low fiber bread made
with light mayo or miracle whip
Snack Nutrition shake like Boost®, Ensure®
2 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
Dinner Baked fish fillet
½ cup mashed sweet potato
1 cup cooked zucchini
Grilled chicken breast
½ cup white penne pasta
½ cup tomato sauce with mushrooms
Snack ½ cup low fat ice cream
½ cup grapes
1 low fat mozzarella string cheese
½ cup applesauce
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 3/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department
of Nursing. HF#337