Saturday, April 16, 2011

Limiting Anti-Inflammatory Foods?

There is no doubt in my mind that anti-inflammatory foods are the healthiest foods to eat. Fresh fruits, vegetables, lean white meats, limited oils and whole grains are undeniably the best nourishment for our bodies. However occasionally (or more often) there are complications we face that limit our food choices.

I'm finding after many weeks of eating FRESH anti-inflammatory foods, my intestinal tract cannot tolerate many of my choices.  I have GASTROPARESIS, otherwise known as paralyzed stomach, and I have come to the realization I really need to respect the advice of my health care professionals. Gastroparesis is a COMMON complication of diabetes, effecting over 5 million Americans of all ages. It does not allow food to be digested normally, and does not permit emptying stomach contents, causing tremendous pain, nausea and elimination problems. Undigested food can harden into solid masses that can be dangerous if they obstruct the intestinal tract.

I have to say, this severe bout of Gastroparesis and my intolerance for fresh foods is causing a lot of grief inside me. I was so excited to find out the wonderful things about anti-inflammatory foods. I feel betrayed by my body. Yet I know I will keep searching for ways to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into my diet some way, because I need the nutrients they provide.

According to GI specialists, nutritionists, and the information found at, the best way to handle Gastroparesis, GP, is in small nutritional steps. The website outlines 3 basic steps to follow. As I evaluate these steps, I'll take what I've learned about the nutritional values of anti-inflammatory foods and see how to incorporate them into these steps. Let's see what options are available to me . . .
  • Step 1: Patients with severe nausea and vomiting should take small sips of salty liquids such as Gatorade or bouillon, to help avoid dehydration. Any liquid should have caloric content, however avoid citrus and highly sugared drinks.  The goal is to ingest 1000 to 1500 calories in a 12-14 hour period. (Hmm - no anti-inflammatory foods available in this step.)
  • Step 2: As tolerated, the diet can be advanced to include a variety of soups with noodles, rice or crackers.  Peanut butter, cheese and crackers may be added in small amounts if tolerated. These foods should be eaten in six small meals over a 12 hour period. The goal is to ingest 1500 calories and avoid dehydration. It is important to avoid creamy, milk-based liquids.  Any fat in the food will delay emptying the stomach. (I could make a soup stock using fresh chopped vegetables and strain them out. Once you've boiled them to get the broth, there's no nutritional value left in them. Chopping fresh vegetables and letting them cook in the broth is the way to go. If I don't want them chunky, I can strain them out and puree them and put them back into the soup to thicken it and keep the nutritional level up.) 
  • Step 3: As the patient tolerates Step 2, the following items may be added slowly. Starches like white bread, noodles, potatoes and white rice breakdown easily and are emptied by the stomach. Homemade soups, mashed potatoes, pasta and rice dishes may be well tolerated. Small portions of baked chicken breast and fish can be added at this time. These solids should be ingested in six small meals over a 12 hour period.  The goal at this point is to find interesting and satiating foods which do not exacerbate my GP symptoms. 
    • Goal: Avoid all fatty foods, red meat and (uncooked) fresh fruits and vegetables which delay emptying of the stomach.  Canned (or fresh COOKED) fruits such as peaches and applesauce, as well as fresh bananas and avocados may be added as they do not require excessive digestion. Fresh vegetables MUST BE COOKED until they are SOFT and should be LIMITED to spinach, squash (winter & summer varieties) and carrots. Fresh and fibrous vegetables must be completely avoided as they are too difficult to digest. 
I notice as I write out this list of "safe" foods for me to eat, some of the foods in Step 3 are high on the Glycemic Index which compromises my diabetes, as they elevate my blood sugars more quickly. Potatoes are identified as an inflammatory food and will effect my arthritis and fibromyalgia.  Clearly I have my research work cut out for me; as I balance my food choices for easier digestion along with stabilizing my blood sugars.

Others of you may have health complications which effect your food choices. I'd LOVE to hear from you. I believe our health and well-being are our responsibility. The more we know about our diseases and the nutritional value of foods, the easier it is for us to make proper substitutions and choose different foods that will help us stay on track with healthful eating.

Wishing you all the best today and every day. Thanks for checking in. See you again soon!

For more information on Gastroparesis, please check out these sites:

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