Pancreatitis diet plan recipes

The Pancreas Center

Written by Deborah Gerszberg, RD, CNSC, CDN
Clinical Nutritionist, The Pancreas Center

“What can I eat?” This is a popular question asked by those suffering from chronic pancreatitis or who have experienced acute pancreatitis and would like to do everything in their power to prevent another attack.

First, let’s make sure everyone understands what pancreatitis is. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and is usually very painful. The pancreas releases excessive enzymes and basically begins to digest itself. In order to heal, many patients must follow a liquid diet. Sometimes patients must avoid taking liquids by mouth. If you are suffering from an acute episode of pancreatitis, it is very important to call your doctor and follow their instructions. Sometimes hospitalization is necessary.

Now let’s discuss the diet for chronic pancreatitis. It is most important that you understand what not to eat and why. There are a few things you must completely avoid, such as alcohol and fried/greasy/high fat foods (such as creamy sauces, fast food, full fat meat and dairy, and anything fried). These foods can cause your pancreas to release more enzymes at once than it normally would, leading to an attack. There are also foods that you should eat only sparingly, if at all. These include refined carbohydrates (white bread, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup) which cause your pancreas to release more insulin than more wholesome complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes). In general, I recommend minimizing processed foods, which are either high in fat, high in refined sugars, or sometimes both.

You may be surprised I didn’t say to avoid foods containing fat. This is usually unnecessary and also unhealthy for most people suffering from chronic pancreatitis. You should aim to have a “moderate fat diet,” in which about 25% of your calories come from fat. For a 2000 calorie diet, this would be 55 g fat/day. In addition to adhering to a moderate fat diet, try to have small, frequent meals, which are easier to digest than having large meals, which may precipitate an attack.

The best food choices for those suffering from chronic pancreatitis are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nonfat/low fat dairy, and lean cuts of meat. Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, may be consumed with careful portion control. Therefore, consume these healthy fats in small amounts. See Table 1 for serving sizes of typically high fat foods. I do not encourage eating everything on the list; use it more for informational purposes. If you are unsure of how much fat a food contains, you can access the USDA National Nutrient Database at http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/.

Everyone’s diet is very individualized, depending on age, weight, food tolerance and preferences. Therefore, if you have further questions about your diet, I encourage you to seek the assistance of a Registered Dietitian (RD). You can find a local RD by visiting the Academy of Food & Nutrition’s website: http://www.eatright.org/iframe/findrd.aspx.

If you are a patient of The Pancreas Center, feel free to make an appointment with me directly: columbiasurgery.org/pancreas/nutrition-counseling

Table 1: List of fat containing foods, 5g fat per serving:

Overview | Causes | Genetics | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Auto Islet Transplants | Diet | Prognosis | FAQ

Nutrition is a vitally important part of treatment for patients with pancreatitis. The primary goals of nutritional management for chronic pancreatitis are:

  • Prevent malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies
  • Maintain normal blood sugar levels (avoid both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia)
  • Prevent or optimally manage diabetes, kidney problems, and other conditions associated with chronic pancreatitis
  • Avoid causing an acute episode of pancreatitis

To best achieve those goals, it is important for pancreatitis patients to eat high protein, nutrient-dense diets that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, and other lean protein sources. Abstinence from alcohol and greasy or fried foods is important in helping to prevent malnutrition and pain.

Nutritional assessments and dietary modifications are made on an individual basis because each patient’s condition is unique and requires an individualized plan. Our Pancreatitis Program offers nutritional and gastrointestinal support for those with pancreatitis.

Vitamins & Minerals

Patients with chronic pancreatitis are at high risk for malnutrition due to malabsorption and depletion of nutrients as well as due to increased metabolic activity. Malnutrition can be further affected by ongoing alcohol abuse and pain after eating. Vitamin deficiency from malabsorption can cause osteoporosis, digestive problems, abdominal pain, and other symptoms.

Therefore, patients with chronic pancreatitis must be tested regularly for nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin therapies should be based on these annual blood tests. In general, multivitamins, calcium, iron, folate, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 may be supplemented, depending on the results of blood work.

If you have malnutrition, you may benefit from working with our Registered Dietitian who can guide you towards a personalized diet plan.

Risk of diabetes in chronic pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis also causes the pancreas to gradually lose its ability to function properly, and endocrine function will eventually be lost. This puts patients at risk for type 1 diabetes. Patients should therefore avoid refined sugars and simple carbohydrates.

Enzyme Supplementation

If pancreatic enzymes are prescribed, it is important to take them regularly in order to prevent flare-ups.

The healthy pancreas is stimulated to release pancreatic enzymes when undigested food reaches the small intestine. These enzymes join with bile and begin breaking down food in the small intestine.

Since your pancreas is not working optimally, you may not be getting the pancreatic enzymes you need to digest your food properly. Taking enzymes can help to digest your food, thus improving any signs or symptoms of steatorrhea (excess fat in the stool, or fat malabsorption). In turn this will improve your ability to eat better, lowering your risk for malnutrition.

Alcohol

If pancreatitis was caused by alcohol use, you should abstain from alcohol. If other causes of acute pancreatitis have been addressed and resolved (such as via gallbladder removal) and the pancreas returned to normal, you should be able to lead a normal life, but alcohol should still be taken only in moderation (maximum of 1 serving/day). In chronic pancreatitis, there is ongoing inflammation and malabsorption — patients gradually lose digestive function and eventually lose insulin function — so regular use of alcohol is unwise.

Smoking

People with pancreatitis should avoid smoking, as it increases the risk for pancreatic cancer.

Next Steps

If you or someone you care for is dealing with a pancreatitis, the Pancreas Center is here for you. The Pancreatitis Program works with nutritionists to provide helpful diet suggestions that help manage the impact of the disease.

Call us at (212) 305-4795 or use our online form to get in touch today.

To keep learning about pancreatitis:

Overview | Causes | Genetics | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Auto Islet Transplants | Diet | Prognosis | FAQ

Related Services

  • Pancreatitis Program
    See all Programs & Services ”

Related Topics

  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cysts
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Chemotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer
  • Endoscopic Treatment for Pancreatic Disease
  • Non-Invasive Tests for Pancreatic Cancer
  • Palliative Procedures
  • Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer
  • Whipple Procedure (Pancreaticoduodenectomy)
  • Total Pancreatectomy with Autologous Islet Cell Transplantation
    See all Related Topics ”

5 Foods that Improve Pancreatic Health

Randox HealthFollow Dec 28, 2016 · 3 min read

Most people don’t think about their pancreatic health until something goes wrong. Your pancreas, however, is an important organ that affects your overall health, especially your digestive health. Located in your abdomen, a healthy pancreas produces enzymes and hormones that help you digest food, such as insulin and polypeptides.

Not taking care of your pancreas can lead to pancreatitis, which is painful inflammation of the pancreas, and pancreatic cancer. People diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 diabetes also attribute the disease to their pancreases not functioning properly.

The first step to taking care of our pancreatic health is as easy as knowing what foods keep it happy and healthy.

Here are 5 pancreatic health-boosting foods that you need to write into your shopping list immediately. The best thing about these foods is that there are basically endless ways to incorporate them into your normal diet.

Broccoli

Broccoli contains compounds that help to eliminate carcinogenic toxins (cancer causing agents) and can prevent DNA mutation. Broccoli sprouts are especially rich in cancer-fighting compounds. For best health benefits, eat your broccoli raw or only slightly steamed.

Delicious ways to serve broccoli

  1. Broccoli and low-fat cheese soup
  2. Shredded broccoli salad with Greek yogurt salad dressing
  3. Raw broccoli with hummus dip

Spinach

Spinach and other leafy greens such as kale and Swiss chard lower the risk of pancreatic cancer. Adding them to your diet can protect your pancreas while supplying your body with B vitamins and iron.

Delicious ways to add spinach

  1. Add spinach to your salad
  2. Add spinach to your whole grain or gluten free pasta dishes (p.s. it’s especially delicious in lasagna!)
  3. Switch out the lettuce in your whole grain sandwich with spinach

Garlic

According to the National Cancer Institute, people who consume a high garlic diet have a 54% lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer. They also taste great in a variety of different dishes. If you were to only incorporate one food off this list into your everyday diet, this would be the one you’d want to. Talk about pancreatic heaven!

Delicious ways to incorporate garlic

  1. Add it to your soups
  2. Add it to your salads
  3. Add it to you low-fat sauces or veggie dips

Cherries

Cherries are rich in perillyl alcohol, a compound that helps prevent pancreatic cancer. Buy organic or be sure to wash cherries well, as cherries often have high amounts of pesticides on their surface. Cherries also taste good in both sweet, dessert dishes as well as in salad and meat dishes.

Delicious ways to dish up cherries

  1. No-bake cherry cheesecake
  2. Whole grain waffles with cherry sauce
  3. Cherries with ricotta and toasted almonds
  4. Smoky roasted cherry jam on whole grain bread

Probiotic Yogurt

A research study published by the National Cancer Institute states that individuals should eat 3 servings of yogurt per day. Yogurt contains active cultures that protect the pancreas and lower the risk of pancreatic cancer. Choose Greek yogurt to keep fat and sugar content low, while maintaining high protein intake. Read more of our blogs!

Diet for Chronic Pancreatitis: Care Instructions

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not drink alcohol. It may make your pain worse and cause other problems. Tell your doctor if you need help to quit. Counseling, support groups, and sometimes medicines can help you stay sober.
  • Ask your doctor if you need to take pancreatic enzyme pills to help your body digest fat and protein.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.

Eat a low-fat diet

  • Eat many small meals and snacks each day instead of three large meals.
  • Choose lean meats.
    • Eat no more than 5 to 6½ ounces of meat a day.
    • Cut off all fat you can see.
    • Eat chicken and turkey without the skin.
    • Many types of fish, such as salmon, lake trout, tuna, and herring, provide healthy omega-3 fat. But avoid fish canned in oil, such as sardines in olive oil.
    • Bake, broil, or grill meats, poultry, or fish instead of frying them in butter or fat.
  • Drink or eat nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, or other milk products each day.
    • Read the labels on cheeses, and choose those with less than 5 grams of fat an ounce.
    • Try fat-free sour cream, cream cheese, or yogurt.
    • Avoid cream soups and cream sauces on pasta.
    • Eat low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet. Avoid regular ice cream.
  • Eat whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta. Avoid high-fat foods such as croissants, scones, biscuits, waffles, doughnuts, muffins, granola, and high-fat breads.
  • Flavor your foods with herbs and spices (such as basil, tarragon, or mint), fat-free sauces, or lemon juice instead of butter. You can also use butter substitutes, fat-free mayonnaise, or fat-free dressing.
  • Try applesauce, prune puree, or mashed bananas to replace some or all of the fat when you bake.
  • Limit fats and oils, such as butter, margarine, mayonnaise, and salad dressing, to no more than 1 tablespoon a meal.
  • Avoid high-fat foods, such as:
    • Chocolate, whole milk, ice cream, processed cheese, and egg yolks.
    • Fried or buttered foods.
    • Sausage, salami, and bacon.
    • Cinnamon rolls, cakes, pies, cookies, and other pastries.
    • Prepared snack foods, such as potato chips, nut and granola bars, and mixed nuts.
    • Coconut and avocado.
  • Learn how to read food labels for serving sizes and ingredients. Fast-food and convenience-food meals often have lots of fat.

The Pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach and plays an important role in digesting food and regulating blood sugar.

Pancreatitis is a serious problem that can disrupt the normal function of the pancreas and may require changes to the way you eat.

This article will provide an overview of pancreatitis and how to manage this condition from a nutrition point of view.

What is Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, and it occurs when the pancreas attacks itself with the same digestive enzymes that are normally used to break down food.

Pancreatitis comes in two main types: acute and chronic. For those at risk of pancreatitis, A doctor may use a special test known as an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to diagnosis the exact issues.

Acute pancreatitis: Pancreatitis that appears suddenly is known as acute pancreatitis. Symptoms include:

  • severe abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rapid heart rate

Acute pancreatitis usually resolves quickly with proper treatment, which may include hospitalization for IV fluids, medication to manage pain, and giving your stomach a rest. In some cases, acute pancreatitis can be life-threatening, and any symptoms should be taken seriously.

Chronic pancreatitis: When the pancreas is permanently damaged from inflammation, the condition becomes long-lasting, as is known as chronic pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis usually develops slowly over time and can diminish your ability to digest food (this is known as the pancreatic exocrine deficiency). Symptoms people with pancreatitis may experience include:

  • diarrhea
  • fatty stools
  • abdominal pain – especially with fatty foods
  • unintentional weight loss
  • formation of a painful cyst known as a pancreatic pseudocyst.

There is no cure for chronic pancreatitis, but the condition can be managed, and the damage can be slowed. Treatment usually involves the correct diet, taking pancreatic enzymes, and managing symptoms.

Causes of pancreatitis

The most common cause of pancreatitis is gallstones. Gallstones are an abnormal buildup of bile, a substance that is stored in the gallbladder.

Sometimes, these gallstones can block the pancreas from releasing digestive enzymes. These blocked enzymes then start to eat and damage the pancreas itself, a process called autodigestion.

The next most common cause is excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol is partially metabolized in the pancreas and produces byproducts that are toxic in large quantities.

Researchers are still working to understand exactly why some people with alcoholism get pancreatitis while most do not.

Other causes of pancreatitis include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Certain medications
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Cystic fibrosis

Is pancreatitis connected to diabetes?

Since one of the main functions of the pancreas is to produce insulin, damage to the pancreas can cause diabetes. This occurs when the inflammation spreads to the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. With these cells destroyed, the body is unable to regulate blood sugar and may require insulin medication.

In people already with diabetes, pancreatitis can also worsen blood sugar control for the same reasons discussed above. A person with well-controlled diabetes who goes on to develop pancreatitis may find it harder to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

How can foods affect your pancreas?

To break down the foods you eat, your pancreas secretes three different kinds of digestive enzymes: protease, amylin, and lipase, which break down proteins, sugars, and fats, respectively.

Thus, eating a heavy meal such as a greasy pizza will activate the pancreas to release a large number of enzymes to fully break down the food.

The pizza will also contain many carbohydrates, which will require the pancreas to release insulin to regulate the blood sugar response to the meal.

Nutrition treatment for pancreatitis

Because the pancreas is very involved with handling meals, nutrition plays an important role in the treatment of pancreatitis.

For acute pancreatitis, the focus is on giving the pancreas time to rest. This may involve a period of fasting with nothing but fluids for a little while.

As symptoms improve, you may progress to a diet that is low in fat and concentrated sugars to reduce the burden on the pancreas. Since acute pancreatitis lasts only a short while, this may be all that is required to manage the condition.

In those that are at risk for malnutrition, tube feeding is sometimes used to supply carefully tailored nutrition without harming the pancreas.

In rare cases, when all forms of food are not tolerated for an extended period, intravenous nutrition (known as parenteral nutrition) is needed.

Nutrition is a significant part of the lifestyle of people with chronic pancreatitis. Since the damage done in chronic pancreatitis cannot be reversed, eating right can help to slow down the damage and keep the pancreas working as well as possible.

There are several priorities for nutrition management in chronic pancreatitis:

  • Preventing malnutrition. The risk of nutrient deficiencies is high due to reduced absorption from food, lower appetite, pain with eating, and increased energy needs from inflammation.
  • Reducing strain on the pancreas. The pancreas will work harder and produce more digestive enzymes in heavy meals, especially those high in fats and sugars. Keeping these nutrients in moderation (but not eliminating them) is important to reduce pancreatic inflammation. If pancreatic enzymes are needed, these should be taken will all meals and snacks to assist the pancreas with digestion.
  • Controlling blood sugar. Remember that a damaged pancreas may not be able to keep up with the blood sugar demands of the body. To help it out, making certain diet changes, especially with portion control and carbohydrate moderation, can help keep sugars in check.
  • Avoiding alcohol. Alcohol abuse can cause immediate discomfort in pancreatitis and will further exacerbate the condition. It is best to avoid alcohol entirely with pancreatitis.

With these priorities in mind, what does a pancreatitis diet actually look like?

What is the best diet for pancreatitis?

A pancreatitis diet includes the following components:

  • Small, frequent meals. Spreading out meals into smaller chunks is usually better tolerated as they are easier for the pancreas to handle. Eating frequently also helps to prevent malnutrition. Aim for about 6 meals per day.
  • Moderate to low fat. You will want to keep total fat to about 30% of total calories. This includes all types of fat, even healthier fats such as olive oil. It may be a good idea to log all meals for a few days into a nutrition analyzing software such as the USDA nutrient database to get a feel for how much total fat you usually eat.
  • Consider MCT oil. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which is a type of fat that does not require pancreatic enzymes to be absorbed. Some evidence suggests that these oils can be better tolerated, and can improve diarrhea associated with pancreatitis. MCT can be taken in supplement form.
  • High-quality lean protein. Protein is important for healing and maintaining strength. Since many protein sources also contain fat, it is essential to prioritize lean protein choices such as turkey, fish, chicken, or plant sources.
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables. Try to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. This will ensure that vitamin and mineral needs are being met. They also contain antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other beneficial compounds to fight inflammation. Fruits and vegetables also contain fiber, which will help keep to control spikes in blood sugar.
  • Less Processed foods. Processed foods are generally low in fiber, high in sugars, fat, and sodium and of poor nutrient quality. Choosing whole, unprocessed foods, whenever possible, is a key part of the pancreatitis diet.
  • Choose the right types and amounts of Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are an essential energy source, and they generally should make up about 50% of the total calories. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Whole grains are preferred to their higher fiber and nutrient content.
  • Avoid too much-added sugar. Added sugars are sugars not naturally present in a food item; they can make it very easy to have too much sugar without realizing it. Added sugars are found in sodas, sports drinks, juices, candy, pastries, and many other foods. Check the nutrition facts label for the most accurate information.
  • Adequate fluids. Staying hydrated is a commonly overlooked aspect of nutrition, but it is no less important. About 8-10 cups of fluid per day are recommended. If you have trouble getting enough fluid, consider keeping a refillable water bottle with you as a reminder.

What are the foods to include in a pancreatitis diet?

The following are examples of foods for pancreatitis:

Fruits and vegetables:

  • Apple
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Orange
  • Banana
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Green Beans

Most fruits and vegetables can be included in a pancreatitis diet plan and will be well tolerated. An exception is a grapefruit, which can interact with many medications. Ask your doctor about grapefruit if you eat it regularly.

Starches:

  • Potato
  • Sweet Potato
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Black beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Corn

Meats/proteins:

  • Skinless chicken breast
  • Skinless turkey breast
  • Fish
  • Egg whites
  • Whole egg (1-2 per day)
  • Tofu
  • Protein powder

Fats (limit overall fat):

  • Olive oil
  • Oil sprays
  • MCT oil
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Seeds
  • low-fat cottage cheese

Beverages:

  • Water
  • Skim or 1% milk
  • Sugar-free seltzer water

What are the foods to avoid in a pancreatitis diet?

Keep the following foods limited as much as possible. Keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive, and you should use the above priorities to guide your eating choices.

  • Sausages
  • Processed meats such as salami, pepperoni, and roast beef.
  • High-fat red meats such as ribeye steak and burgers.
  • Fried foods, including french fries.
  • Processed, high-fat cheeses such as American and cheddar.
  • Bacon
  • Butter
  • Cream soups
  • Whole milk
  • Ice-cream
  • Candy
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sports drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary cereal
  • Chocolate
  • Avocado

Sample menu for a Pancreatitis diet

Breakfast:

  • Egg omelet with 1-2 eggs, chopped bell pepper, and onion
  • One slice whole-wheat toast
  • 8oz skim milk

Snack:

  • 6oz low-fat yogurt
  • Apple
  • Water

Lunch:

  • Tuna sandwich with whole wheat bread, tomato, lettuce
  • Baby carrots with hummus
  • ½ cup of raspberries
  • 8oz skim milk
  • Mozzarella cheese stick
  • 15 grapes
  • Water

Dinner:

  • Baked buffalo chicken
  • Salad with spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and low-fat dressing
  • ½ cup of black beans
  • ½ cup of brown rice
  • Water

Snack:

  • Orange slices

Diet tips for diabetes

Recall that pancreatitis is a risk factor for diabetes. There are many similarities between a pancreatitis diet and a diabetes diet. The basics of diabetes diet will be recapped here:

  • Portion control is important. Follow the healthy plate method of 1/4th starches, 1/4th protein, and half non-starchy vegetables.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages. It is best to only drink beverages with zero grams of sugar, except for low-fat milk.
  • Understand carbohydrates. Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) are the primary nutrient that affects blood glucose. Carbs do not need to be eliminated, but simple eaten in controlled quantities. For those counting, carbohydrates aim for 45g per meal.
  • Weight loss. If you have weight to lose, losing just 5% will significantly improve blood sugars.
  • Make it a Lifestyle change. With any diet, make sure to start small and make one realistic change at a time.

Conclusion

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas and can be both acute or chronic. When the pancreas is inflamed, the main functions of digesting food and producing insulin can be impaired.

To manage pancreatitis, a special diet should be followed. A pancreatitis diet generally includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

Foods high in fat and sugar should be kept to a minimum. Medications such as pancreatic enzymes and supplements such as MCT oil are sometimes used to assist with symptoms.

Following the pancreatitis diet will help prevent further damage to the pancreas, manage symptoms, and avoid malnutrition.

Question:

I just got home from the hospital from having an acute pancreatitis attack; the doc wanted me to follow a soft, bland, low-fat diet… help. What do I eat besides oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and bananas? Thank you.

Answer:

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that plays an important role in digestion and metabolism. Because of this role, when someone suffers from pancreatitis they often experience severe abdominal pain that becomes worse after eating. Other symptoms include a swollen and tender abdomen, nausea, vomiting, fever, and rapid pulse. While most people recover from pancreatitis, it can be a life-threatening illness.

Acute pancreatitis may be an indicator of gallstone disease. As gallstones pass through your system, they can cause the pancreatic duct to become blocked, which causes pancreatitis.

Initial treatment during hospitalization often includes no food. When attacks are very severe, doctors may use IV nutrition to nourish patients until they are able to tolerate food. Once you resume eating, a soft, bland, low-fat diet (as your doctor suggested) is prescribed. These types of foods are more easily digested and can minimize abdominal pain. Many people who suffer from pancreatitis find that they are better able to tolerate food if they eat small, frequent meals (6-8 each day). Your meals should be low in fat, fiber, and simple sugars, and high in Iean protein sources. Most experts recommend no more than 20-30 grams of fat per day when recovering from pancreatitis. You can resume a normal diet over time, but in the meantime, I have included some suggestions on foods that you can eat and also on foods to avoid:

Try eating foods like:

  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Cooked cereal (grits, cream of wheat or rice, oatmeal) made with water
  • Scrambled egg whites
  • Plain pasta, bread, or crackers
  • Baked chicken, fish, or seafood (spray with non-stick cooking spray or add fat-free chicken broth while baking to make it more tender
  • Canned vegetables (such as green beans or carrots)
  • Clear soups (made with fat-free chicken or vegetable broth)
  • Sugar-free gelatin or pudding

Avoid spicy foods and things that can cause gastric irritation. These include:

  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Caffeine
  • Coffee
  • Tea (caffeine-free, herbal tea is OK)
  • Cocoa
  • Alcohol

You should also avoid foods that are high in fat, such as:

  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Baked goods and pastries
  • Red and organ meats
  • Fried foods
  • Sweets
  • Sugary beverages
  • Potato chips, French fries, and other high fat snack foods
  • Butter
  • Heavy cream, mayonnaise, and other rich sauces
  • Casseroles or vegetables with added butter and cheese

Pancreatitis is strongly linked to alcohol consumption, so alcohol should not be consumed during recovery. If you suffer from acute pancreatitis, speak with your doctor before resuming alcohol consumption. If you suffer from chronic pancreatitis, your doctor may recommend avoiding alcohol entirely.

It’s very important to stay hydrated during the recovery process. Drink water throughout the day to make sure you are getting adequate fluids. If you are experiencing pain with eating, talk to your doctor about using a clear liquid nutritional supplement (such as Ensure® Clear) until you are fully recovered.

You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.

See more helpful articles:

8 Ways Diet Can Help Treat Mild Pancreatitis

Diabetes Study: Fasting Restores Pancreas Function

Top Myths About Type 2 Diabetes Cures

Nutrition Advice & Recipes

This is a very important section for us at The National Pancreas Foundation. We recognize that quality of life is important for all of us but is certainly much more of a challenge for individuals and their loved ones trying to manage chronic illness.

Our goal is to provide support and information on all aspects of daily life, including nutrition, medical treatments, pain management, and practical tips.

For patients with pancreatic disease, there are many times when it is difficult to eat at all. Even when you are feeling well, you still have to be very careful to follow a low-fat diet. Below are some guidelines, and, as always, your doctor is the best one to tell you how to eat. Note that sometimes it is easier to eat small meals several times a day, instead of trying to sit down to three big meals.

A low-fat diet

The amount of fat you should eat varies depending on your weight and height, but for an average person, it is felt that you should not consume more than 20 grams of fat a day. No one meal should have more than 10 grams of fat. Eating boneless chicken breasts and most fish helps keep your meals low in fat. Cooking with Pam or any cooking spray instead of oils also helps. You can add fat-free chicken broth when you need moisture.

Alcohol and dehydration

If you have pancreatic disease, it is important to never drink alcohol. Research has shown that dehydration causes the pancreas to flare. Always drink plenty of fluid. It has been recommended that a patient always have a bottle of water or any liquid with them at all times. Drinking Gatorade or other sports drinks is a good way to keep from being dehydrated.

Taking a break

Sometimes it is best to rest the pancreas and limit your food intake. If you are experiencing a flare, your doctor may even recommend no food for a day or two. A diet of clear liquids can be followed when pain is severe. Clear liquids include apple, cranberry and white grape juice, gelatin and broth. The clear liquid diet, however, is not nutritionally complete and the diet should be advanced as soon as additional food is tolerated and according to the schedule given to you by your doctor.

Recipes from the NPF Chronic Pancreatitis Cookbook

The NPF CHRONIC PANCREATITIS COOKBOOK provides examples of delicious appetizers and main dishes that are extremely low in fat content and generally do not irritate those with pancreatic disease. A few of the recipes are listed below but please download the NPF CHRONIC PANCREATITIS COOKBOOK for a full listing.

Before embarking on a new diet, exercise program, or medical therapy, please consult with your physician.

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