Creating Your Pancreatitis Diet
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach. There are many causes of pancreatitis, but most cases tend to be the result of metabolic issues. While acute pancreatitis flares up suddenly, chronic pancreatitis can be an ongoing issue for many years. One of the most effective ways to prevent or deal with either form of pancreatitis is to watch what you eat. Here’s a look at how to eat if you have problems with pancreatitis.
Watch Your Fat Intake
The National Pancreas Foundation recommends your diet be tailored largely around a low-fat aim. While nutritional needs may vary for height and weight, if you have issues with your pancreas, keep your fat intake to below 20 grams a day. Additionally, you should consume no more than 10 grams of fat at once.
Choose foods and snacks that are low in fat but still filling. The best foods for this — which can help not only with pancreatitis but with many other health concerns — are fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. This is a great way to get plenty of fiber and a variety of vitamins and nutrients, without overwhelming your system with fats. The National Pancreas Foundation provides a cookbook full of lowfat recipes that are great for a pancreatitis diet.
Don’t Skip Meals…Unless You Need To
One of the major warning signs of chronic pancreatitis is unintended weight loss. This is in part because of the constant abdominal discomfort that makes it difficult to eat, but also the body’s difficult in absorbing nutrients from food because of your pancreatic issues. It can be easier to shoot for four or more small meals a day rather than eating two or three large meals. Your body will digest it more easily, and it will be gentler on your body, while still ensuring you get nutrition.
If you feel your pancreas flaring up, take a few days off of solids and drink clear liquids, such as apple juice or chicken broth. Obviously this isn’t going to give your body everything it needs, so avoid fasting for more than a day or two. Slowly add bland foods into your diet to avoid upsetting your system further. Always call your doctor when you have issues of this sort so that they can advise you as to what is best for your specific case.
Normally it is important to get plenty of fluid into your body, but especially with pancreatitis because it is dehydrating, and being dehydrated only increases your problems. Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. If you’re having trouble drinking enough for your size, sports drinks can be a great way to boost electrolytes — just be wary of your sugar intake.
Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Some Medication
Alcoholic pancreatitis is one of the more common forms pancreatitis can take. If you have pancreatic issues, under no circumstances should you drink alcohol. The ethanol it contains can damage the pancreas on a cellular level, cause blockages, and inflame pancreatitis. Cigarette smoking is also connected with pancreatitis. If you take medications religiously, be sure to check with your doctor, as many drugs also seem to play a role in the development of pancreatitis.