Living with gastroparesis, my choice of foods and drinks is very limited. I’m not complaining though. I can always look around and find others who seem to have life a lot harder than I do. Since having an appointment with a dietician a few months back, I’ve learned ways to shop smart and eat healthier. I’ve been advised to stay away from fatty foods, high fiber foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and red meats. I’d already figured this out over the past ten years, through trial and error. Before my gastroparesis diagnosis, I just thought I had an intolerance or allergy to beef, pork, milk, tomatoes, and citric fruits. I was basically living on chicken, turkey, and cooked veggies… along with lots of sugar. During my college years, Skittles was a major food group for me. I guess the sugar gave me the energy I needed to keep going. Having the dietician tell me what foods were harder to digest helped to convince me that I was better off to stay away from certain foods. When I go shopping for food now, it’s pretty much the same list each time… instant potatoes, low fat chicken broth, jello, Gatorade, Ensure clear, tofu, rice milk, and egg whites. I try to add a little vegetarian protein when I can, such as veggie burgers. If that’s what it takes to make me feel better, then I am happy to eat that way.
About once a month though, I enjoy happy hour. Happy hour can mean a variety of things depending on who you are talking to. For me, Happy Hour is 2-4p.m. half price slushes at Sonic. Whether I’m in the mood for blue raspberries, green apples, grapes, cherries, watermelon, or any of their other flavors, I’m sure to be “happy.” My stomach is still slow emptying, even with just liquids, so I get the small and slowly sip on it. Even then I vomit it up sometimes, but it’s worth it. That may sound like silliness to those who don’t have gastroparesis, but it’s flavor in my bland diet.
Speaking of diet, I think I finally helped some of my friends understand what I go through on a daily basis. I was excited on Saturday because I went almost four hours without vomiting. Sunday I went to church. It was the first time I’d been there since having surgery three weeks earlier. My brother-in-law asked how I was doing and I responded, ” I went four hours without vomiting yesterday, that’s improvement.” Several people turned and looked at me as if questioning how going four hours without vomiting was improvement. No one asked, although their facial expressions did. I looked over at my brother-in-law and said, “Gastroparesis is like having the stomach flu every minute of every day. Four hours is reason to celebrate.” I think my excitement over not vomiting for four hours made people realize how sick I truly am. Most people think they are terribly sick if they vomit once or twice. Not vomiting is reason to celebrate for those of us with gastroparesis. Even if it is just a jello party, it’s still a celebration… yes I had a jello party once, but that’s another story and we’ll save it for another day.