In this section, we discuss the role of self-management as a way of reducing added stressors and triggers. The best we are able to manage our own condition the easier it is to adjust to the many changes we face.
Here are a few tips to help get you started.
The first step for anyone who suspects they may have Gastroparesis is a dietary modification. This should be done under the guidance of a registered dietitian. The standard advice is to first try swapping 3 large meals a day for 6 smaller meals.
It is recommended that you avoid highly processed foods, large amounts of fat, highly fibrous foods such as raw fruit and vegetables, salads etc.
It is important to monitor your weight regularly when adjusting your diet to monitor for signs of weight loss. Keep a record of foods that cause an increase in symptoms and the time of day you are eating them.
Modifying your diet
However, we also understand that for some patients dietary intake is so restricted that even reading the words "small portions" sounds impossible! In this instance, a Liquid or Pureed diet may be more beneficial. Supplement drinks such as fortisip can be ordered on prescription via your GP to help increase calorie intake. Again, this should be done under the guidance of a registered dietitian.
Unfortunately, there are also many patients who are unable to tolerate any form of oral intake, in this instance we have dedicated several pages with advice on enteral (tube feeding), parenteral feeding (Intravenous Nutrition) and treatment options.
Trying to keep up with busy lifestyles, children and social commitments can be incredibly hard for people with Gastroparesis. Planning ahead becomes an important part of being able to participate in day to day activities.
Keep a separate diary for all your appointments, prescriptions and medications and useful phone numbers.
If you are able to eat small amounts, ensure that you always have something suitable for you when you go out by taking snacks/drinks with you.
Make sure you allow time to rest too!
Work with your body
Pacing your activity and not overdoing things can play a crucial role in our perception of pain and discomfort.
The more exhausted we become the harder it is deal with both physical and emotional challenges. This is NOT to say that pain isn't real... it most certainly is!
Learning to live within your limitations can be a huge challenge so don't be too hard on yourself, listen to your body and don't push too hard. Find time for relaxation, rest and of course a little fun if you can!
Allow friends and family to support you while you adjust, they need to feel useful sometimes too! Lots of our members are parents and carers and they often tell us they wish they could help more... so let them!
As mentioned in the previous section, oral nutritional intake is not always possible and medical intervention may be needed to help you maintain a healthy weight.
It is a daunting prospect for anyone facing the decision to have feeding tubes placed and GIFT is here especially to help patients requiring nutritional therapy as a result of gastroparesis.
We have further information on types of tubes, feeds and the procedures involved in our Tube feeding guide.
Not everyone who has gastroparesis will require artificial feeding and there are several medications which can help reduce symptoms. Talk to your GP or Gastric consultant to find a combination that suits you.
There are a few surgical options for gastroparesis but these need to be given careful consideration as they have such varied results. Find out more on our Treatments page. Alternatively, join our Support Group to talk to others in similar situations.