My husband worked hard to prepare a fantastic meal for us. It smelled great and I was looking forward to enjoying it.
We sat down. Prayed together. And began to dig in.
The food was just as amazing as it smelled. I smiled at my husband and thanked him for the food. Then continued eating a couple more bites . . . and that is when it happened.
I set my fork down and my husband looked at me worriedly.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
I assured him the food was fine, but that I was full. And he looked at me quizzically and said, “But you only had a couple of bites.”
Tears filled my eyes as I sighed and whispered, “I know.”
I didn’t know what was going on, but lately, I had been getting full after only eating a few bites of food. And I’d also been experiencing bloating, abdominal pain, and near-constant nausea.
I had tried everything I could think of. But clearly, there was something wrong.
I decided I needed to see my doctor. But nothing could have prepared me for what they would discover.
- What Is Gastroparesis And What Are Its Symptoms?
- What Are The Main Causes of Gastroparesis?
- How Do You Know If You Have Gastroparesis?
- What Happens When You Have Gastroparesis?
- How Jesus Helps Us Live Well with Gastroparesis
What Is Gastroparesis And What Are Its Symptoms?
After talking with the doctor and going through some tests, I was diagnosed with a chronic condition called gastroparesis.
This condition causes partial paralysis of the stomach. Which makes it hard for the muscles to contract and push food through the digestive tract. This in turn reduces the ability to digest food and hinders metabolism.
And when the stomach is unable to empty itself properly it can lead to all sorts of frustrating symptoms.
Gastroparesis symptoms can vary from person to person, but some common ones are:
- Acid Reflux and heartburn.
- Vomiting. (Because when food sits too long, or the stomach doesn’t have the ability or energy to process that food, it tries to expel it.)
- Abdominal pain.
- Blood sugar issues.
- Early satiety (feeling full quickly after starting to eat).
- Nutritional deficiencies due to the body having a difficult time processing food.
- Poor appetite and weight loss.
What Are The Main Causes of Gastroparesis?
The main causes of gastroparesis are usually one of the following things:
- Opioid painkillers, antidepressants, and other medications which slow down the central nervous system.
- Complications from diabetes.
- Surgery on the stomach or digestive tract.
- Nerve damage, especially damage to the vagus nerve.
- Viral infections.
- Problems related to blood pressure issues.
- Other health issues.
How Do You Know If You Have Gastroparesis?
To know if you have gastroparesis, you must talk with your doctor. They will ask you a few questions and run some tests before giving you an official diagnosis.
How Is Gastroparesis Diagnosed?
Gastroparesis is generally diagnosed after running one of the following tests.
The first one is called a gastric emptying test.
During this test, you eat a meal with radioactive material in it. Then a technician scans your stomach at different intervals to see how long it takes for your stomach to digest it.
(This is the test I had done.)
Another test involves swallowing a capsule with an electronic device in it that relays information about your digestion to a receiver you wear.
What Happens When You Have Gastroparesis?
Gastroparesis is a chronic condition which means that in general, it doesn’t go away.
It is something you must learn to live with and manage.
But usually, with either treatments authorized by your doctor or by initiating some lifestyle changes, the symptoms of gastroparesis can be managed so you can live well.
Treatments for gastroparesis vary from patient to patient, depending on the severity of their condition. But they can include medications, surgery, feeding tubes, or even temporary IV treatments to help restore nutritional levels.
Helpful Tips for Living with Gastroparesis
The following 7 helpful tips are the lifestyle changes I have implemented since being diagnosed with gastroparesis.
They have greatly reduced my symptoms, and I hope that by sharing what has worked for me, you may be able to find something that works for you, too.
Try out these 7 helpful tips for living with gastroparesis:
- 1) Adjust Your Daily Eating Habits.
- 2) Get Some Exercise.
- 3) Try Fasting.
- 4) Pray About It.
- 5) Change Your Perspective.
- 6) Be Thankful.
- 7) Meditate on Scripture.
(But always check with your doctor before making any significant changes.)
1) Adjust Your Daily Eating Habits.
Try making some changes to your daily eating habits and see if they reduce the severity of your symptoms.
- Eat 4-6 meals a day, instead of 3. (This means your stomach has less to digest in one sitting.)
- Try to eat more liquid or easy-to-digest foods.
Go for canned or cooked fruits and vegetables rather than raw ones. For example: eat applesauce instead of a whole apple with the skin on. Or try peeling the skin off an apple before you eat it and see if that helps.
- Avoid foods high in fat and fiber.
- Increase your water intake. Your body works best when well hydrated.
- Try ginger.
Ginger has been shown to help stimulate the stomach so taking ginger pills daily or eating ginger candies when feeling nauseous or dealing with abdominal pain can help.
This has been AMAZING in helping me!
(But talk to your doctor before starting any medication or supplement changes, because even natural supplements can interact with anything else you are taking.)
Personally, avoiding gluten and limiting dairy has also helped to decrease my gastroparesis symptoms. But for someone else, this may make no difference.
You may have to experiment with your diet for a while to find what works best for you.
2) Get Some Exercise.
Working on building up your core can help with gastroparesis symptoms by strengthening your muscles.
(Pilates and yoga routines are fantastic for helping with this.)
Another great option is to go for a walk after eating. Because light physical activity can help stimulate your digestion and speed it up.
3) Try Fasting.
In Matthew 6:16 Jesus said, “When you fast . . .”
He didn’t say, “If”.
This implies that Jesus fully expected His followers to fast and pray. And fasting actually has a lot of health benefits.
It gives your stomach and digestive system a chance to clear everything out, take a break, and encourages your body to detox.
This is why I try to fast once a week.
However, because gastroparesis affects my ability to process food and this can cause nutritional deficiencies, I choose to do a liquid fast instead of a total fast. Or water only fast.
This means I avoid solid foods. But I do allow myself to drink juice, coffee, tea, electrolyte drinks, and plenty of water.
4) Pray About It.
Ask God to heal you. To give the doctors wisdom and discernment. Or to show you what changes you need to make.
God knows your body. Even better than you do. So, He can show you what you need to do to help it function better.
He may even decide to heal you completely.
But even if He doesn’t, you can still choose to trust Him, lean on Him, and grow in your faith.
So, He can help you . . .
5) Change Your Perspective.
It can be easy to let the nausea, pain, and frustrations of diet limitations get to you. Which is why it is important to change your perspective.
Focus on what you can eat, not what you can’t.
And . . .
6) Be Thankful.
The more we give thanks for what we do have, the less we are concerned with what we don’t have.
Changing our perspective and being grateful for what we have reminds us that we are blessed.
Especially because we have Jesus.
“Go, eat your food with gladness . . .”-Ecclesiastes 9:7 NIV
7) Meditate on Scripture.
Sometimes it just helps to get into God’s Word and meditate on some Bible verses. This way we can remember what the Bible says about our relationship with food.
The following 5 verses are great to meditate on and think about.
1) “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”-John 4:34 NIV
2) “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”-John 6:27 NIV
3) “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”-John 6:35 NIV
4) “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”-Matthew 4:4 NIV
5) “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”-Matthew 6:25 ESV
How Jesus Helps Us Live Well with Gastroparesis
Jesus can help us live well with gastroparesis by showing us what we need to change. By giving us the strength we need to get through the bad days of nausea and pain.
And by reminding us it won’t last forever.
Someday, we will finally arrive in Paradise.
Where we will have fully restored bodies that can handle eating anything.
And I don’t know about you but while meeting Jesus face-to-face is what I am looking forward to most . . . thinking about being able to enjoy a delicious feast with my Heavenly King . . . well, that also sounds pretty amazing.
If you found this encouraging, then please share it so someone else can be helped!
And be sure to check out these other inspiring articles as well:
- Living with Chronic Illness . . . And Jesus
- Chronic Illness Burnout . . . What It Is And 7 Ways to Heal
- Faith and Healing . . . It Doesn’t Mean What You Think
*Here at “Rich Faith in Poor Health” we do not provide medical treatment, diagnosis, or advice. We just share what has worked best for us in our own health journeys. No information published on this website is intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional. We highly recommend that you talk to your doctor before taking any action or making any healthcare changes.