Fat is Flavor! Fat Delays Gastric Emptying!

Fat is flavor!  That’s one of the first things I learned in culinary school.  Fat delays gastric emptying!  That’s one of the first things I learned after I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis.  As I’ve been learning, some GPers can eat all the fat they want and some cannot.  Just as some GPers can tolerate more fiber than others.  Right now I would consider myself “middle of the road” as far as fat and fiber are concerned.

Before GP, I was living a very “clean” life…plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and most importantly, healthy fats by way of olive, canola, fish and flax oils, avocado, peanut and almond butter, nuts, dark chocolate, egg yolks, naturally raised grass-fed meats and cold water fish.  Healthy fat helps with the absorption of many nutrients, keeps skin and hair healthy, improves cardiovascular health, reduces the symptoms of hypertension, depression and inflammation in the body and as we’ve all been told, delays gastric emptying.

After my diagnosis I shied away from fat altogether.  The GP diet is low-fat NOT no fat and I have to keep reminding myself of that.  We’ve all been there.  Newly diagnosed and still in the flare that was responsible for the diagnosis or just out of a flare and experiencing the fear and paranoia of putting ourselves back into one while being completely clueless as to what is safe to eat.

Food allergies and Gastroparesis have made me a very cautious eater.  You all know my motto: “Nothing tastes as good as being well feels!”.  I’m a “baby steps kinda gal” not a “leap before I look gal”.    While trying to safely and responsibly introduce foods back into my diet (healthy fat in particular), I’ve been using what I’ve nicknamed the Three Cs Method…Caution, Conservatism and Calculation.

Caution: I carefully choose meals I tolerate easily which are already very low or contain no fat to “improve” with a little healthy fat.

Conservatism: I add fat very slowly, in small increments until I feel I’m at a healthy and tolerable level for me.

Calculation: I keep in mind the other meals and fat contents I’ve already consumed that day when deciding how much fat to allow in a meal.

Examples of introducing more healthy fat into my day are:

Adding a tablespoon of strawberry banana flavored flax oil supplement to my morning Banana Chocolate Protein Smoothie adds 5 grams of healthy fat including Omega 3 fatty acids.  On the mornings I’m out of Barlean’s Omega Swirl I add a heaping teaspoon of smooth almond butter to my smoothie.  The recent addition of one tablespoon of natural cocoa powder in each serving of Mary’s No Sugar Added Instant Breakfast Powder adds an additional two grams of healthy fat to my breakfast.

Spreading mashed avocado onto my sliced turkey or chicken sandwiches has been another easy way to incorporate some healthy fat into my lunch when I’m not enjoying chicken, tuna or egg salad made with one tablespoon of Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayonnaise (50 calories, 5 grams fat).  According to www.avocadocentral.com, 1/5 or 1 ounce of a Hass avocado contains 50 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 1 gram fiber and 1 gram protein.  Avocado is also part of the menu that was provided by the dietitian and was suggested by a fellow GPer on the GP Yahoo group I belong to.  They are a friendly, kind and informative group I might add!

I juice my fresh fruits and veggies almost daily.  I find fat in liquid form or fat diluted in liquid much easier to tolerate.  I add 1 teaspoon of Barlean’s Fresh Catch Fish Oil to my juice.  It adds a pleasant orange flavor 45 calories and 4.5 grams of fat including healthy Omega fat.  Recently, when I was out of fish oil I quickly pureed a quarter of an avocado into my juice with my stick blender for an Omega boost.

I try to consume most of my eggs whole (with the yolk) and only make sacrifices when trying to bake a low fat, GP-friendly treat…remember treats and sweets after all nutritional needs are met.  Although the yolk is a significant source of cholesterol, it is full of important nutrients including fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids (according to www.cholesterol-and-health.com).

In keeping with advice I received during a webinar sponsored by G-PACT back in August, I try to introduce one new food back into my diet each week or so.  My most recent addition is poached salmon and I’m happy to announce it was a success.  I went the lazy route and purchased a package of wild pacific salmon prepared with salt and lemon from the refrigerator case at Trader Joe’s.  Each 3 ounce serving contained 90 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 18 grams protein and a whopping 1,000 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids.  It was delicious mixed with a little olive oil mayo, Penzey’s Mural of Flavor salt free seasoning and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

The very first meal I tinkered with was the Three Cheese and Spinach Pita Pizza which is almost fat free.  Each time I made one, I drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil over the fat free cottage, ricotta or feta cheese starting out with a 1/4 teaspoon and working up to 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil which adds 40 calories, and 4.7 grams of mostly monounsaturated fat.  I enjoy the flavor of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and just a teaspoon makes my pita pizzas taste more like the real thing.

During a quickie impromptu dinner.  I divided a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil into thirds and drizzled it over each layer of a sweet potato I filled with 1/4 cup seasoned fat free ricotta cheese and cooked spinach.  Along with the 1/3 teaspoon of olive oil I salted and peppered each layer and finished with a dusting of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano.  It was a simple, delicious and healthy dinner!

While I’m not an expert on GP, I’m becoming an expert on my own GP.  Right now, I feel most comfortable consuming 5 grams of fat at a time.  This isn’t a race…it’s a journey.  GP is a chronic condition so I have the rest of my life to tinker with my diet until I get to my most healthy and tolerated way of eating.  How are you able to incorporate healthy fats into your day?

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8 responses to “Fat is Flavor! Fat Delays Gastric Emptying!

  1. Congrats on being able to eat more fat! You’re really moving along here lately — first red meat and now oily fish — go girl!

    For me, avocados seem to be one of those things I can only handle on really good days. My husband loves guacamole, so I make it for him all the time. Sometimes just the smell makes me so nauseous I have to make him finish mashing it. Other times, I can handle it in sushi. Weird!

  2. Slow and steady wins the race! I have issues with anything that smells smoked…some days I’m fine and other days I can’t be in the same room or it makes me really nauseous.

  3. I make a smoothie to take to work and I put a generous clump (probably 3 tbsp at least) of almond butter in it. Costco sells Maranatha brand 16 oz for $5.79.
    I add some olive oil to my lunches and dinners (baked chicken/butternut squash/frozen spinach – precooked and heated in a small Pyrex dish.)
    Peanut butter on a cracker or just a spoon makes a good afternoon snack for me.

  4. Those are all good healthy fats! Welcome!

  5. I don’t add much fat to anything, but use it sparingly for cooking/flavor. I use olive oil mostly in a spray I get from Whole Foods, but I can ocassionally add a little tiny bit of butter to something for flavor (I know, not so healthy, but definitely helps with flavor and mentally). I also get some fat from some unsweetened cocoa powder and my coconut milk.

    I wish I could take in some of the flax, fish oils, but every time and every kind I’ve tried makes me feel very sick. I’m thinking I might just buy some nice fresh salmon this week and get my oil that way. 🙂

  6. Knowing our unique food, fat and fiber limitations is probably the best tool to managing GP and all of it’s symptoms. I do my best when I stay in a range I know is safe for me. Enjoy your salmon!

  7. Guess what!!! I just tried Eggland’s Best eggs for the first time. Since you say you eat the yolk, you might be interested to know that they have half a gram less fat (4 g instead of 4.5 g), plus WAY more nutrients!

    http://www.egglandsbest.com/nutrition/nutrition-facts.aspx

  8. Great tip. I’ve been buying Omega 3 eggs at Whole Foods…I’ll have to compare the nutritional info. Thanks for the link.