One of the most common symptoms of GP is early satiety and fullness. Unfortunately, this often also revolves around hunger. Pact Blog writer Nancy gives some tips on dealing with both!
Early satiety is the feeling of stomach fulness after only consuming a small amount of food. It is also a symptom of Gastroparesis (GP) as well as several other medical conditions. Early satiety is unhealthy and could lead to nutrient deficiency and starvation. It is more common among women than men. With early satiety and GP, you may experience vomiting and/or heartburn after only consuming a small amount of food. Despite not being able to finish a full meal, your stomach feels full. GP patients experience early satiety because food takes longer to digest.
To help combat the stomach discomfort due to GP, it is recommended that you eat small low fat, low fiber meals 4-6 times per day. Despite eating every couple of hours, you may still feel hungry between meals. If you’re like me, you try to tell your brain that you’re not really hungry, but your messed-up gut says otherwise. Here are a few things that you can do to reduce those hunger pangs:
- Get more sleep. Research suggests that there is a link between sleep deprivation and the increase in desire for food. Lack of sleep effects the hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin) in the body. When you are tired, your body craves high fat, high calorie food.
- Reduce your stress. A study conducted in 2001 showed there was an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone), increasing hunger. Study participants ate more food on the days there were stressed. I find that to be true for myself. When I’m stressed, I reach for food.
- Drink more water. When you are dehydrated, your body gets confused and signals to your brain that you’re hungry. If you don’t drink enough water, you will begin to feel tired and you body will think it needs food.
- Consume less artificial sweetener. A recent study on the effects of sweeteners on motility, hormones and appetite in healthy participants. It found that high calorie sweeteners (but not non-calorie sweeteners), inhibit muscle contractions in the GI tract.
- Stay away from high calorie, low nutrient foods. To satisfy hunger, we often reach for quick foods like chips or pretzels. Instead, opt for high protein foods to satisfy your hunger. A 2013 study showed that participants who ate high protein meals for breakfast were less hungry throughout the day.
- Add healthier unsaturated fat into your diet. Dietary guides lines suggest that you avoid trans fats and limit saturated fat to less than 10% of your calorie consumption, consume fish at least twice per week, consume lean, skinless meat and snack on fruits, vegetables and nuts. It is recommended that GP patients limit the amount of fat in their diet to less than 50 grams day.
Saturated fat raises cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in your blood. This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Trans fat are created from food processing method called partial hydrogenation. Trans fats include LDL levels and lowers the good cholesterol high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Healthier fat are unsaturated monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Monosaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in plant-based foods and oils (olive oil, corn oil, peanut oil, etc.). Eating foods with monosaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids may benefit blood sugar control, especially for those with type 2 diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids are primary found in fish (salmon, tuna, etc.), oils (flaxseed, soybean, etc.) and nuts (walnuts). Studies have shown that these types of fats reduce risk of coronary artery disease.
Each GP patient reacts differently to food and may have different foods that they are able to consume, so please discuss your early satiety issues and your specific dietary needs with your gastrointestinal doctor or a register dietician.