Soft, Bland Diet for Pancreatitis

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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:

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Diabetes Study: Fasting Restores Pancreas Function

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Answered by Heather Reese