When you’re first diagnosed with gastroparesis, it may take a while to figure out what foods you tolerate, and what foods you don’t. Without keeping track, it becomes difficult to remember what you ate and when, and what symptoms you had. Keeping track makes it easier to remember, and can be helpful when seeing your doctor. It can help you and your doctor form a meal plan, or simply keep track of symptoms. One of our writers, Nancy, has some tips and her experience with keeping track of food and symptoms.
Food journal, food log, food diary. It’s all the same thing. Your gastroenterologist (GI) or nutritionist may have recommended using a food diary when you were first diagnosed with gastroparesis (GP). A low fat, low fiber diet is recommended. Your GI or nutritionist may have even provided you with a list of foods you should avoid, a list of foods that you can try, and sample meal plans. Unfortunately, GP is not a one size fits all diet. You need to identify foods that you can eat that do not cause you symptoms.
Getting started is hard, especially if you’re having lots of symptoms. The key to successful food management is introducing one food at a time. If you’re having lots of GP symptoms, start with liquids and work your way up to solid foods. Be sure to identify your safe food. A safe food is a food that you know you can eat without experiencing any symptoms. Identifying food that works for you may take several weeks or months. In the long run, identifying what you can and cannot eat will be a critical part of managing your GP.
Kitchen tools that you need include measuring cups and spoons and a food scale. You may also need a blender, juicer or food processor to aid in meal preparation.
There are all sorts of sample print materials and iPhone apps that are available for tracking food. Many of these focus on calories, weight loss and exercise. You can modify to suit your specific needs. A simple way to document your meals and symptoms is by using a small pocket size notebook.
You need to track what time you ate, the amount, the food item, and your digestive symptoms. For example:
½ cup skim milk
2/3 cup Kellogg corn flakes
½ cup canned diced peaches
Moderate stomach pain
Record each food item right after you’ve eaten. If you’re struggling with symptoms, you may want to include how the food was prepared (baked, broiled, fried, steamed, grilled, etc.) and any seasoning that was used in preparation. When eating out, use your hand to measure food size.
When I was first diagnosed with GP, I had a little note book that I easily slip into my pocket. I tracked what I ate, portion size, and any symptoms I experienced throughout the day. My rule of thumb for portion size was to never eat anything larger than my palm. When I met with my nutritionist, I discussed my food findings and my boredom with the foods I was eating. She recommended other foods to try. I also purchased several Gastroparesis specific cookbooks and have tried several of the recipes. Its expanded what I can eat and eliminated my food boredom.
During your meals, chew your food slowly. Drink liquids throughout the meal. Eat 4-6 small meals per day. Avoid foods high in fat and fiber as they may delay your stomach emptying and cause symptoms. Remember to document what you’ve consumed at a meal or snack and list any symptoms you’re experiencing. Bring your food diary to your appointments with your GI or nutritionist to aid in discussing your mealtime practices.
If you have any experience with food journaling, or any tips and tricks you’d like to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.