Diabetes and Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is a disorder that is sometimes called delayed gastric emptying. This disorder causes food to remain in the stomach undigested for longer than normal. Individuals with diabetes can experience gastroparesis.

November 16, 2023

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. Consult your medical doctor for questions on your diagnosis. Consult a VidaEats dietitian for specific diet recommendations.

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that involves the body’s inability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin, leading to high or low blood sugar levels.  It is absolutely possible to have diabetes and live a long and fulfilling life. However, diabetes can be a tricky condition to manage and there are a number of complications that people often find themselves facing as a result. For example, diabetes is one of the more common causes of preventable blindness worldwide for adults aged 20 - 65, and is the number one cause of cardiovascular and kidney disease.

Eye, heart, and kidney problems are relatively well-known diabetes-related complications, but did you know that people can develop other health issues due to their diabetes and not even realize it?

One of these conditions is gastroparesis.

What is Gastroparesis and How Do You Know You Have It?

Gastroparesis is a disorder that is sometimes called delayed gastric emptying. This disorder causes food to remain in the stomach undigested for longer than normal. Because of the delayed emptying of the stomach, people with gastroparesis can experience the following symptoms:

● Nausea

● Vomiting

● Feeling full quickly or uncomfortably full after a meal

● Bloating

● Abdominal pain

● Weight loss/weight gain

● Constipation and/or diarrhea

● Large blood sugar fluctuations

Because these symptoms are relatively common, gastroparesis may be difficult to identify. That is why it is important to consult your healthcare provider if you think any of your symptoms are related to this condition.

How Can Diabetes Cause Gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis occurs when people have damage to a nerve called the vagus nerve. This nerve is important because it sends signals that our body needs to churn food. When the vagus nerve is damaged, digestion is disrupted because the churning of food slows down or stops.

So how does all of this relate to diabetes? When the body’s blood sugar is high for an extended period of time, this can damage the blood vessels that provide the vagus nerve with nutrients and oxygen. As a result, the vagus nerve is damaged and gastroparesis is developed.

Does Having Gastroparesis Affect What You Eat?

Gastroparesis can impact the way your body reacts to food, and some foods may even worsen your symptoms. Here are a few nutrition tips that can help manage gastroparesis:

● Stay hydrated. This is important especially if you have been nauseous and vomiting. Drinking water throughout the day can help you stay hydrated and rest your stomach. Do avoid drinking during meal time so you can prioritize food before feeling too full.

● Eat smaller, more frequent meals. This will ensure that there is less food in your stomach so you will feel less full.

● Keep the texture of your food in mind. Soft texture foods, liquids or foods that have been blended are easier to digest.

● Watch out for high fat and high fiber foods. Foods high in fat and fiber take longer to digest and could worsen your symptoms.

Still not sure what to eat to manage your diabetes and gastroparesis? Book an appointment with one of our dietitians!


1. Krishnasamy S, Abell TL. Diabetic Gastroparesis: Principles and Current Trends in Management. Diabetes Ther. 2018;9(Suppl 1):1-42. doi:10.1007/s13300-018-0454-9

2. Type 2 Diabetes and Gastroparesis: What You Need to Know. Healthline. Published January 17, 2012. Accessed February 24, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/gastroparesis

Continue Reading