Meal Planning Tips for Chronic Pancreatitis Patients

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Chronic pancreatitis is a condition caused by an inflamed pancreas. The inflammation is severe enough to change the organ’s normal functions and structure as well as to cause tissue damage. Because it is a progressive disease, a patient must stick to a special diet to assist in the recovery of the pancreas. Below are meal planning tips for patients suffering from this condition:

Drink Plenty of Fluids

An important part of a proper diet is hydration. You want to drink as many fluids as you can every day to prevent or recover from chronic pancreatitis. Studies show that dehydration puts too much stress on the body. It could also cause symptoms of pancreatic insufficiency. Doctors recommend drinking at least 8 8-ounces of water daily.  All liquids consumed – including coffee, tea, and soups – account toward your daily total of fluids consumed.

Low Fat All the Way

The pancreas secretes enzymes that break down fat from the food you eat. But if the pancreas is not working properly, the excess fat from the food you eat could end up affecting bowel movement. Chronic pancreatitis could cause foul-smelling, greasy stools. Researchers found that a low-fat diet helps normalize bowel movement.

Cutting back on fatty foods certainly helps ease symptoms of chronic pancreatitis too. If you are consuming foods that stimulate pancreatic functions, the organ is less likely to be stressed. A stressed pancreas could lead to abdominal pain and aggravate inflammation. That said, healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acid, should never be taken away from your diet. Our advice is to work with a certified dietician to develop the best diet program for you.

Go for Mini Meals

Apart from cutting back from fatty or greasy foods, consider taking 5 mini-meals every day instead of the traditional 3 square meals. The smaller amounts of food that go into the digestive tract will not aggravate an already inflamed pancreas.

Taking Dietary Supplements

Taking dietary supplements help ease the painful symptoms and discomforts of chronic pancreatitis. Ask your doctor what types of enzyme supplements are right for you. If you are already taking dietary supplements, always mind the dosage. You don’t want to go overboard with the dosage because this will only aggravate your condition. The most common supplements taken to ease chronic pancreatitis include fat-soluble vitamin A, D, E, and K. To decrease inflammation, you can also take vitamin C.

Go for Low Fiber

High fiber foods are a part of a healthy diet. But if you are suffering from chronic pancreatitis, you want to steer clear of excessively fibrous foods. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that gas and flatulence in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency aggravated their condition. Gas and flatulence are often caused by excessive fiber. You want a diet that contains balanced nutrients to avoid putting excessive strain to the gastrointestinal tract.

Quit Your Vices

If you drink alcohol or smoke habitually, now’s the best time to quit all your bad habits for your sake. Long-term alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking increases inflammation of the pancreas. Worse, you could develop diabetes because of your bad habits, causing further damage to the pancreas.