Located behind the stomach, the pancreas is the gland that secrets digestive juices and enzymes, which help digest food. Your pancreas is also responsible for producing hormones that regulate the glucose your body takes from food. Sometimes, the pancreas fails to work properly because it becomes inflamed. This happens due to a condition called pancreatitis. If you already have this condition, you need to pay attention to your diet. Be sure to limit certain foods to avoid making your condition worse.
Foods to Avoid with Pancreatitis
Be cautious about foods that can aggravate your symptoms. Here is what you should exclude from your diet when you have pancreatitis.
1. Excessive Alcohol
You have to limit your intake of alcohol when you have pancreatitis. It is important to avoid all types of wine, beer, and liquor. It is equally important to quit smoking cigarettes because they amplify the negative effect of alcohol on your pancreas. It is never easy to stop drinking especially if you have been drinking for years, but you can seek help from a professional or join a recovery group to leave alcohol.
2. Fried or Fatty Foods
Eliminate foods rich in saturated fats when you are prone to pancreatitis. Fatty foods increase your risk of having another attack of pancreatitis when you are recovering from one. Ensure that you do not eat greasy foods, such as French fries and burger; fatty meats, such as bacon, organ meat, and salami; foods rich in Trans-fats, such as fast food, baked goods, and frozen pizza; and full-fat milk, including cheese and yogurt.
3. Starches and Breads
When it comes to foods to avoid with pancreatitis, you should also avoid grains and breads with high fat content to avoid making your symptoms worse. When you have pancreatitis, your body cannot digest added fat found in stuff like doughnuts, croissants, biscuits, high-fat crackers, and waffles. You will be better off including whole-grain starches in your diet. Some of the best options are pasta, brown rice, hot cereals, and lower-fat crackers.
4. Veggies and Fruits
While most fruits and veggies are safe, you should avoid the ones with high fat content. A great example is avocados that should be avoided at all cost. Similarly, you should avoid dishes that are breaded or fried. Also, avoid veggies that are prepared with oil sauce or cheese.
5. Dairy and Other Beverages
Your symptoms may become worse if you do not exclude high-fat dairy products from your diet. Avoid full-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt and try lower fat alternatives. Water, juice, tea, coffee, and nutritional supplements can be included in your diet for better hydration.
6. Meat and Protein Sources
Certain protein sources are also on the list of foods to avoid with pancreatitis. It is better to avoid nuts and seeds, high-fat meats, and meat with skin. Ground meats with 15% to 25% fat should also be avoided. Similarly, you should not eat cuts of beef, chicken, or pork with visible fat. Breaded and fried meats also have no place in your diet. You can get protein from beans, lean meats, and eggs.
7. Sweets and Desserts
Brownies, cake, cookies, pie, and ice cream usually require added fat, which is the reason why you may want to avoid these foods, especially when they are made with heavy whipping cream, whole milk, or large amounts of margarine.
8. Added Fats and Cooking Oils
Whatever you are cooking, be sure to limit the amount of fat you use. Moreover, you also need to avoid overeating butter, sour cream, vegetable oils, margarine, and full-fat salad dressings.
Foods to Eat with Pancreatitis
While dealing with pancreatitis, it is better to go 'vegan' until you no longer have any pain. A modified vegan diet is usually a better option. You can include safe protein sources in your diet when you have no symptoms, such as nausea or pain. Here are some safe foods options for anyone suffering from pancreatitis:
- Fish, especially white meat fish, such as halibut, cod, crappie, bass, orange roughy, catfish, Pollack, etc.
- Seafood, including crab, shrimp, lobster, clam, scallops, etc.
- Poultry, including skinless chicken, grouse, turkey, quail, and pheasant
- Egg whites
- Legumes, such as peas, lentils, and beans
- Leafy green and cruciferous vegetables
- Fruits, such as coconut, berries, squash, and cherries
- Whole grains such as rice, oats, barley, and wheat
- Spices, including garlic, cayenne, black pepper, turmeric, and ginger
It is important to check the fat content of foods you eat. Some safer protein sources may still have enough fat to make your symptoms worse – this is especially true when you are still healing from a bout of pancreatitis. Moreover, you should drink plenty of water to avoid dealing with dehydration, which can lead to flare-ups. It is fine to drink Gatorade or other available sports drinks, but be sure to check their sugar content first.
Can You Prevent Pancreatitis?
It really helps to pay attention to your diet and know about foods to avoid with pancreatitis, but the truth is that you cannot completely prevent pancreatitis, especially when it is caused by gallstones.
- Ensure that you eat regular, balanced meals. Never skip meals and ensure you go for low-fat options only. This prevents gallstones and lowers your risk of dealing with pancreatitis. Also, limit saturated fat and include fiber in your diet.
- It is important to lower your weight because overweight people are at a greater risk of developing gallstones, which in turn makes them vulnerable to developing acute pancreatitis. Maintaining a healthy body weight, sticking to a balanced diet, and following a good exercise program may help lower your risk of forming gallstones.