Thanksgiving, a holiday centered around hearty feasting, can pose quite a challenge for individuals managing gastroparesis—a condition affecting the stomach's ability to empty properly. Coping with gastroparesis during this food-centric celebration involves careful planning and mindful choices to ensure an enjoyable holiday experience. So, we’ve put together some gastroparesis-friendly tips and suggestions that might make your Thanksgiving more normal.
1. Planning Small, Frequent Meals
Rather than one large feast, you probably know by now that you should opt for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This involves some planning, but you can bring some pre-prepared gastroparesis-safe dishes so they’re ready throughout the day to snack on. That way, when the time comes to eat, you don’t feel like you need to load up your plate like the rest of your friends and family, but you can still enjoy sitting and snacking during the meal.
2. Choose Easily Digestible Foods
Prioritize softer, well-cooked foods that are easier to digest. Mashed sweet potatoes, cooked vegetables (like carrots or squash), and well-cooked turkey without skin (if you can tolerate meat) are generally gentler on the stomach. If you are eating turkey, it’s best to go for white meat over dark, and you can try softening it up with some low-fat gravy.
3. Mindful Seasoning
Be cautious with seasoning and spices, as some can trigger digestive distress. Consider using gentle herbs like parsley, basil, or just a pinch of mild spices such as ginger or cinnamon (depending on what you can tolerate).
4. Avoid Trigger Foods
Identify and steer clear of trigger foods that make your gastroparesis symptoms worse. This can be especially tricky on Thanksgiving, since for many folks, high-fat or high-fiber dishes, carbonated beverages, and rich, creamy sauces can be problematic.
5. Opt for Low-Fiber Options
Substitute high-fiber ingredients with low-fiberalternatives. For instance, opt for peeled and cooked fruits or veggies instead of raw ones and choose white bread or rolls over whole grain options.
6. Smaller Portions and Slow Eating
Enjoying smaller portions and taking time to chew thoroughly can help manage symptoms by reducing the workload on the digestive system. Since you’ll only be snacking instead of feasting at mealtime, eating slower will also reduce the time you’re left sitting with an empty plate while others eat.
7. Consider Liquid or Blended Options
Soups or pureed dishes can offer a way to savor traditional flavors while ensuring easier digestion. Creamy soups or blended vegetable side dishes could be great options. 8. Stay Hydrated: Sip water throughout the day to stay hydrated and aid digestion. Avoid excessive amounts during meals to prevent overfilling the stomach.
9. Dessert Alternatives
Indulge in gastroparesis-friendly desserts such as gelatin, pudding, or fruit sorbet. These options can give your holiday a sweet ending without causing discomfort.
10. Shifting Your Focus Towards Community
Try and focus on the joy of being together with loved ones rather than solely on the food. You can plan activities that are less centered around eating and drinking, like board games, cards, or arts and crafts, for example. Remember to communicate your dietary needs with your loved ones, and keep in mind that besides enjoying your holiday, your health and wellness are priorities.
By approaching Thanksgiving with mindful planning and consideration for gastroparesis, you can indulge in the spirit of the holiday without compromising your well-being. Prioritizing comfort, moderation, and easily digestible foods will pave the way for an enjoyable and fulfilling Thanksgiving celebration.