Eating healthy fats can help ensure you get enough calories and nutrients.
Healthy fats include olive oil, fish, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
low fat milk
It can be hard to get enough nutrients when you have EPI.
Low fat versions of products may not give you the nutrients your body needs.
Plus, they usually don’t taste as good as the real thing.
Some vegetables and fruits, bran, whole grains, and beans are very high in fiber. High fiber foods may interfere with the action of digestive enzymes.
If you notice symptoms even with the right dose of digestive enzymes, try a lower fiber diet.
Peel fruits before eating and choose refined grains rather
than whole to see whether your symptoms improve. Cooked vegetables are often easier to digest than raw ones.
Protein is important for maintaining muscle and for immune function.
Sources of protein include meat, chicken, fish, dairy,
soy products, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Aim to include protein in all meals and most snacks.
Pain or low energy levels can make it hard to prepare food. Consider having some ready-made meals in your fridge or freezer for days when you don’t feel up
Some grocery stores make heat-and-serve meals on-site. You can also batch-cook casseroles, stews, or soups or ask a friend or family member to help.
Full-fat (4%) cottage cheese
Cottage cheese and fruit, crackers and cheese, or pita wedges with hummus are all great snack options.
EPI-friendly dinner plate
One go-to dinner option might be baked salmon with yogurt sauce, rice, and roasted carrots.
Avoid alcohol and cigarettes
Alcohol can cause damage to your pancreas and worsen the progression of EPI. Try to avoid alcohol if you can, or reduce your intake.
Smoking can cause inflammation and make EPI worse. Smoking is also a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Try to quit or cut down, if you can.
If you don’t always manage to eat enough, you might consider a nutritional supplement drink. These drinks are a source of protein, calories, and many different nutrients. If you’re trying to maintain your weight or regain lost weight, try sipping these between meals. If you have a low appetite, it may feel easier to drink something instead of trying to eat more.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins. This means they rely on fat to be absorbed properly. So, if you have trouble digesting fat, it can be hard to get enough of these vitamins. Talk with your doctor about whether you need a supplement and the right dose for you.
Get your vitamins
Think about activities that you’ll enjoy. If you’re having fun, you’re more likely to continue. Plan out your activity for a time of day when you tend to have more energy.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider working with a physical therapist. This can be helpful if you have chronic pain or injuries. They can show the proper way to perform exercises and stretches
and help you build a plan for active movement.
Stay on track with treatment
You’ll need to take digestive enzymes every time
you eat. It may be helpful to divide the dose at meals. You can take some enzymes with the first bite and the rest halfway through the meal. If your current dose isn’t working, talk with your doctor about how to
Having regular follow-ups with your healthcare team is best in case anything changes with your health.
Keep a detailed symptom diary and watch for any changes. Note the dose of PERT you’re on and the foods you’re eating. If you’re having diarrhea, oily stool, cramping, nausea, or pain, talk with your doctor. You may need a higher dose of PERT. Sometimes dietary changes can be helpful.
Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) is the main treatment for EPI. With the right PERT dose, you’ll be able to digest and absorb the nutrients from your foods.
Take care of your mental health
Lifestyle Tips for People
Living with EPI
Click the arrows to move right, left,
and down through this infographic.
Cutting down or quitting alcohol or smoking can be hard. But support is available for you. Ask for help if you need it. Talking with your healthcare team is a good place to start. They can work with you to create a smoking cessation plan or direct you to addiction resources that might help.
If you haven’t been active regularly, it’s important to start slowly. It’s better to build up gradually instead of going too hard and potentially getting injured or burning out.
Many people with a chronic condition experience mental health challenges. EPI can cause pain and several digestive symptoms. Sometimes, it prevents you from doing the things you want to do. This can cause stress and anxiety. It’s OK to feel frustration, anger, and a sense of loss.
Some things you can do:
Practice self-care. Self-care is about finding ways to take care of yourself. Think about the things that give your mood and energy a boost. It may be taking time to relax and read or planning
a visit with a good friend.
Consider working with a therapist. A therapist can be a helpful part of your care team. They can support you in better managing difficult or overwhelming thoughts and feelings, especially if they interfere with your daily life.
low fat vs. full fat