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General Practice 2023

Diet for pancreatitis: what to eat and what to avoid

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Diet for pancreatitis: what to eat and what to avoid
Diet for pancreatitis: what to eat and what to avoid

Diet is a very important part of treatment for pancreatitis as it helps prevent nutrient malabsorption, lessen symptoms and prevent the risk of malnutrition.

During a pancreatitis crisis there are some very important rules:

  • Avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages;
  • Do not eat fatty foods;
  • Avoid bulky meals.

The main objective of the diet for pancreatitis is to eat a low-fat diet, as this slows down the functioning of the pancreas and relieves symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. In addition, it is also important to control the consumption of foods high in sugar or with a high glycemic index, because during pancreatitis, an increase in the amount of sugar in the blood is common.See a list of foods with a high glycemic index.

To facilitate digestion, the doctor may also advise you to take pancreatin in capsule form, which is an enzyme naturally produced by the pancreas and helps with digestion. This remedy should be taken before the main meals.

The diet may also vary according to the type of pancreatitis:

1. Diet for acute pancreatitis

During an acute pancreatitis crisis when the person feels a lot of pain and cannot digest any type of food well, the recommendation is that the diet is zero until the crisis improves or up to a maximum of 48 hours, keeping it if only water intake for hydration. Thus, the person who is in crisis cannot eat anything, so that the intestine can rest and the pancreas can recover.

After the pancreatitis crisis, you should start eating again in small amounts, starting with strained fruit juices, to remove the pomace, coconut water and well diluted vegetable and meat broths, beaten in a blender.

Gradually, the diet can become pasty, with mashed soups, mashed potatoes or pumpkin, boiled eggs, shredded chicken and lean ground meats. Everything should be done with small amounts of fat, preferably using extra virgin olive oil, and using only natural seasonings such as onions, garlic, basil, parsley, cilantro and chives.

As the person is tolerated and digested better, solid foods with low fat should be offered, such as lean meats, fish and skinless chicken. Vegetables should initially be cooked, as it facilitates digestion.

2. Diet for chronic pancreatitis

The main goals of the diet for chronic pancreatitis are to correct nutrient malabsorption, prevent the loss of fat and muscle mass, stimulate appetite and relieve symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Thus, it is common for the doctor to recommend the use of supplements with vitamins A, D, E and K, which are the most affected by malabsorption caused by pancreatitis. In addition, other supplements with vitamin B complex, zinc, calcium and magnesium may also be indicated.

People with chronic pancreatitis should also avoid eating very large meals, preferring to eat small meals throughout the day, every 2 or 3 hours, and consume only 40 to 60 grams of fat per day. Foods high in sugar should also be controlled, in order to help keep the amount of sugar in the blood well regulated.

Due to various dietary restrictions, it is ideal for people who suffer from chronic pancreatitis to consult a nutritionist, who will be able to prepare a nutritional plan adapted to individual needs.

Allowed foods

After the crisis and during the beginning of refeeding, the following foods should be preferred:

  • Milk and skimmed yogurts;
  • Lean cheeses such as mines, cottage and ricotta;
  • Boiled eggs;
  • White rice, bland pasta;
  • English potato, especially in puree form;
  • Lean meats like fish and skinless chicken;
  • Boiled vegetables like pumpkin, chayote, carrots, beets, sautéed zucchini;
  • Peeled fruit without pomace.

This diet lasts about 1 to 2 weeks after the crisis, according to the acceptance and evolution of each person.

Forbidden foods

To prevent further attacks of pancreatitis, the following foods should be avoided:

  • Chocolate;
  • Alcoholic beverages;
  • Foods that stimulate the gut, such as coffee, mint and pepper;
  • Foods high in fat, such as red meat, butter, yellow cheeses, cookies, ice cream or margarine;
  • Processed meat such as sausage, sausage, bacon, ham, bologna;
  • Frozen ready-to-eat foods, hamburgers, lasagna, fast food in general.

It is always important to check the label of processed foods, checking if the product contains vegetable fat or hydrogenated fat, excess dyes, preservatives and other additives that irritate the intestine and increase inflammation.

Example menu for pancreatitis

The following table provides an example of a 3-day pancreatitis diet menu:

Meal Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Breakfast 240 ml strained apple juice + 2 pieces of toast + 1 boiled egg Oatmeal porridge: 200 ml of milk + 2 tablespoons of oatmeal 1 glass of skimmed milk + 2 slices of white bread with ricotta or cottage cheese
Morning snack ½ baked apple with cinnamon 2 toast with ricotta cheese 1 mashed banana
Lunch/Dinner Vegetable broth with chicken (blended in a blender and strained) 90 grams of chicken breast + ½ cup of rice + 1 cup of cooked vegetables 90 grams of fish + ½ cup of mashed potatoes + 1 cup of cooked carrots and green beans
Afternoon snack 1 glass of strained orange juice + 1 low-fat plain yogurt 1 low-fat plain yogurt + 6 strawberries 1 low-fat plain yogurt blended with strawberries

In addition to dietary changes, learn about treatment for pancreatitis, including medications and surgery.

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