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If you have ever experienced a pancreatic attack, I'm sure you have immediately started looking for solutions and ideas about how never to experience it again.

Dietary and life-style changes sound like a good idea but no one seems to know what really works and there appear to be no written guidelines. Your doctor mentioned briefly eating a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet and taking enzyme supplements with every meal to help the body digest food but that didn't seem to do you much good.

You are not alone. There are many others pursuing the same goal and some have even left valuable information. I have gathered some of the information and will place them within this article but please be careful when experimenting and listen to what your body is telling you. 

It may be a while before you will be able to eat "normally", if ever – sorry to say but don't loose hope.
Online information
  • A pancreatitis diet should include smaller and more frequent meals rather than a full meal to minimize the amount of digestive juices your pancreas must produce. Eat at regular intervals. 
  • You should limit fat to help reduce loose and oily stools that result from a lack of pancreatic enzymes
  • A diet high in carbohydrates will give you energy to help fight fatigue. Carbohydrates can be found in foods made from starches (complex carbohydrates) or sugars (simple carbohydrates). It would be best to get most of your daily calories from complex carbohydrates found in grains, vegetables and legumes
  • Drink a lot of liquids so you don't become dehydrated. Dehydration could aggravate your pain by further irritating your pancreas.
  • Avoid any alcohol consumption. Decline in pancreatic functioning has been seen in those people who continued to drink alcohol while abstinence from alcohol had a significant long-term beneficial effect on some of the problems associated with pancreatitis.
  • A fiber-rich diet should not be recommended as soluble and insoluble fiber has been found to trap pancreatic enzymes and prevent their action. High-fiber diet was also associated with a small increase in the amount of fat in the stool. There was also increased incidence of flatulence but no increase in the frequency of bowel movements
  • Quitting smoking would be beneficial. Cigarette smoking as well as chewing tobacco decreases pancreatic secretion and increases the risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
  • Enzyme supplements prepared from pig pancreas (pancrelipase) or fungi have been shown to reduce steatorrhea and possibly pain but you should consult a qualified healthcare practitioner about the appropriate and safe amount of enzymes to use because large amounts of pancreatic digestive enzymes have been found to damage the large intestine causing pancreatic insufficiency.
If your blood glucose has been high, you may need to avoid
     -  concentrated sweets.

Limit the amount of caffeine and spicy and gas-forming foods that you eat. These foods stimulate the pancreas.

If you are suffering from a lack of vitamin b12, make sure you discuss it with your doctor and get some supplements.

Information gathered from different pancreatitis suffers:

Letter 1.

  • No gas producing or spicy foods. 
  • No fat period. no fried foods (don't digest it well) 
  • Lay off all dairy for at least 3 weeks, and introduce it back slowly 
  • I had diabetes during, so I off all sugar and carbs 
  • No soda, diet or otherwise, stick to water as much as possible or decafe 
  • No juices, stick to fruit and veggies in mother natures packaging. 
  • Steam the veggies 
  • No red meat for a month, then stick to no more than 3 times a week. 
  • no heavy starches _baked potato etc, for a couple of weeks and then slowly introduce them back 
  • Say good bye to bacon, and sausage - fatty meat (or go turkey)

Letter 2

Plain bread with sliced turkey and a little mustard (maybe try a little light mayonnaise) seems to be the best food I can eat lately. Also apple juice is wonderful. I can eat about half a sandwich in one day, and a couple glasses of juice.

Letter 3

No bacon, corned meat, sausages or minced beef as these all have fat. I also had no dairy products except for yogurt. I don't drink alcohol or tea or coffee, so it wasn't hard to drink water with slices of lemon in it which was usual for me.

I have found this diet useful. Wholegrain bread, no margarine or butter (I used pickles, mustard or low fat dressing instead) but you can have salad, tomatoes, gherkins or chicken, turkey, salmon, cucumber etc sandwiches. For potatoes, I put mint sauce on them instead of butter, ate coleslaw (try to drain off the dressing as much as possible).
I ate lots of cooked tomatoes and onions, chicken and vegetable soup, kumara (sweet potato) and pumpkin soup, fresh fish and fresh vegetables and most fruit. I also drank a little apple juice and ate low fat yoghurt. I was never hungry as I ate small amounts and often with lots of water. I didn't eat canned food as they have preservatives etc in them, but did add soup mixes to my soups to add flavour.

the secret is to eat very small meals (like half a slice of toast), wait 20 minutes then see if you are still hungry.

Letter 4

Talking with the nurses they have said that sugars like in applesauce may also irritate it but i have found if i eat small portions and often it doesn't hurt so bad.

My diet is kinda like this:


  • toast with jelly or cream of wheat, or instant oatmeals, apple cinnamon is good 
  • morning snack 
  • rice cakes with apple sauce 
  • grapes, or an apple sliced up 
  • lunch 
  • bread with mustard, or fat free ranch dressing with turkey and cucumbers 
  • half a can of spagettio's 
  • afternoon snack 
  • rice cakes with apple sauce, or grapes, or an apple sliced up, or these great new dole fruit sorbet's that i found at Walmart/Target. or popsicles 
  • dinner 
  • cooked carrots, or beets or peas or corn, fresh, not from a can a baked chicken breast, or rotisseri chicken, something that cooks the fat off of the chicken, then pat it with paper towel most of the fat is in the skin, so always make sure you remove the skin before cooking. 
  • then of course a snack before bed 
  • one of those sorbets or a popsicle or a rice cake with applesauce. 
  • I have also tried the simply smooth foldgers coffee.. some days it's good, some days it's not.

Letter 5

Had a Gastro doctor tell me to limit my fat intake to 20-30grams per day. The ADA standard recommended diet allowance for fat is 65 grams per it's pretty restrictive.
Use apple butter for toast. You can really drench it. (I choose bread that's 1 gram of fat per slice or less) I use barbecue sauce, Fat free sour cream or salsa for baked potatoes, I eat chocolate Marshmallows or Miss Meringue cookies (which are primarily fat free) for binges.

Letter 6

Been hospitalized 9 times in 3 years with chronic pancreatitis. I only get it though when i get my period. NONE of my doctors did anything about it and brushed it away saying it cant be from that b/c they never heard of it. I have been to Boston, Connecticut and have a TON of docs in RI. No one knew anything and my tests were fine. Well the last time I was in the hospital (Feb08) they finally listened and changed my birth control pills-dosage and frequency-and i have been feeling great.

Letter 7

As I'm not sure what will affect your condition or how your pancreas will respond. I've found that my body will tell me what works and what doesn't. Foods I avoid: Alcohol of any kind, very spicy foods, too much mint, any excess fat..dressings, regular mayos, butters, oils, etc., most cheeses, chocolate (has lots of fat)(1 bag of Lindt truffles..the red ones...put me in the hospital last year for a week), caffeine, coffee and carbonated darker sodas (the lighter ones such as Sprite, 7-up didn't bother me as much. The list goes on..but mostly common sense. I read all the labels. If not sure, I'll search the internet for nutritional info for the item....or even restaurants sites. Eating out: If the restaurant doesn't list their fat grams or have it on the internet, just remember to keep the fats low...(20-30gr per day was recommended to me by my Gastro) Most restaurants will accommodate. 
Grilled chicken breast... steamed veggies... hold the mayo, etc. I've also found that Wendy's makes a low-fat honey mustard dressing in the pouch that I'll sometimes take with me to a restaurant. Just ask for extra in the drive thru when ordering your dry baked potato or grilled chicken sandwich. Makes a good mayo substitute or sauce for the potato too.
Red Robin has teriyaki grilled chicken sandwich and will sub the fries for side salad with the best Fat Free Ranch dressing anywhere...just have them skip the cheese and mayo on the sandwich (Teriyaki sauce is fat free)Check out the website for Subway sandwiches. Probably 80% of their menu is very low in fat....I keep fat free mayo at work so I can get a sandwich anytime as a takeout (I usually get a veggie, grilled chicken or turkey) I can eat a 12" sandwich which is virtually fat free and not have any pain. There is very little to eat and McD's or Burger K... so I generally avoid, but they do have grilled chicken on their menu.

Letter 8

I've found that most people think that when I ask for low fat, it's because I'm just large and on a diet. I've found that if I tell people ...."if I eat too much fat, I'll end up in the hospital" or "my body doesn't process fat anymore and if I have too much, I'll end up in the hospital" they're more likely to give you the lower fat item...rather than give you full fat item and lie about it. I've watched Starbucks make my Non Fat latte with whole milk rather than skim just because they didn't want to do more than 1 batch. They still denied it, so I dumped it in the trash and called their HQ. They want consumers to be diligent and satisfied. After all...for could be the difference of another hospital stay or not...for's about what happens when the bad PR gets out. They were very apologetic.

Letter 9

Here's the very general info my nutritionist told me to AVOID:
  • Products made with added fat (e.g., biscuits, crackers, etc) 
  • Anything breaded or fried 
  • Anything that uses cheese, creme, butter or oil-based sauces. 
  • Avocado 
  • Regular ground beef (85% lean or fattier) 
  • Hot dogs, bacon, sausage, high-fat lunch meats. 
  • High-fat poultry like duck 
  • Chicken skin 
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Whole or 2% milk 
  • Creme or half-and-half 
  • Cheese (unless reduced fat) 
  • Dairy or other products made from whole milk, or cheese 
  • Added sodium 
  • Alcohol of any kind

Letter 10

I have been doing OK with coffee, tea and orange juice, so I don't think you need to worry about those. Banana are high in potassium, something they pump into you after an attack, so I think you're good there too. They didn't say anything about acidic drinks to me. Oatmeal is good. Candy is often high in sugar but low fat so it should be good in moderation (unless you have diabetes). The bugaboo with pretzels is salt and if they were browned using butter.

Letter 11

Here are some of my favorites...low fat white bread , toasted, with honey. Low fat yogurt, 1/2 banana, with dry cereal. Broiled chicken breast. Any kind of frozen veggies with a 1/4tsp benecol. I make gelatin squares out of 100% bottled fruit juice, cut it into 1 1/2x1 1/2 inch squares and eat no more than 2 at a time. They make a good between meal snack. 
Saltines go down pretty well. I haven't tried it but a nurse friend tells me if you whip liquid tofu into plain soup (don't use canned, too fatty, too salty) it tastes like a cream soup. 
Recipe for gelatin squares 
8 pkg. plain gelatin 
64 oz. bottle of clear juice(eg. cranberry/grape) 
1 cup sugar ( or splenda if for wght reduction) 
a large pyrex, rectangular dish to hold it all. 
Heat the juice to just under boiling, add to gelatin and sugar while stirring to melt. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares. Hope this helps!

In short for the next month I cannot take any fat, spices or heavy meat laden meals. No bacon, ground meat, cheese, milk fat, margarine, booze. I am not going through that again so I will very cautiously reintroduce lean meats, bread, esp. flat breads like tortillas, zero fat milk, yoghurt etc. To start the diet the best meals for me were tinned vegetable soups like chicken veg and beef broth. Also it seems necessary to take Pantaloc every day to reduce acid production in the gut. And drink lot's of water.

Letter 12

Anyhow the only things I can seem to eat without too much negative reaction is baby cookies, oatmeal, apple sauce, white rice, fat free yogurt, fruit snacks, cranberry juice, no alcohol of any kind. NO fat from meat products, even fish. Don't dare try any real meats. So sick of feeling sick and so tired of having no choice of food.

Letter 13

Eating Out:
The large family-eating chains (Applebee's, Chili's, etc) have low-fat options. In the Midwest, Green Mill has a great Mediterranean Chicken Sandwich that is 6g fat and I'd order it even if I didn't have to. I found that some "healthy" restaurants do not necessarily offer low fat.

The trick is not in the ingredients, but in how they prepare them. I ask that they don't use butter or oil in their food prep. I also check nutrition info for restaurants online--holy cow, most dishes were super-high in fat! Don't think that just because it is grilled it is OK--I found grilled chicken dishes and salads with 80+ g fat! Appetizers with 230g fat. That's before you start on the entree. Some restaurants didn't have single entree with under 50g fat. Eat out 3 or 4 times per week and you too can have pancreatitis!

Eating In:
It is easiest to control your fat intake at home. There are lots of fat-free cookbooks. My favorite is Steve Racihlen's "High-Flavor Low Fat Cooking." Lean Cuisine's Teriyaki Rice Bowl only has 2g fat and is pretty filling.

There are also many prepared foods I've tried: breakfast cereals, frozen waffles and oatmeals. Be careful of fish--some are very high in fat. Sandwiches can be made with fat-free mayo, mustard and other sandwich spreads. We got creative and found I have more options than I thought, even fat-free: stir-frys, chicken cooked in fat-free salad dressing or marinade, rice, noodles, superlean beef, top sirloin kabobs, spaghetti with red sauces...

As I write, I'm making some "No Pudge" Fat-Free brownies. I also have low-fat frozen yogurt and light ice cream (which can have even less fat than frozen yogurt if you're careful with portion size). I get Eddy's blended chocolate/vanilla ice cream/yogurt and pour on the Hershey's sauce when I have a sweet craving (about 4 g fat). Angelfood cake is fat free.

I used to drink nothing but Diet Coke but haven't had one since the attack--they taste different to me now and I don't know if they interfere with the Protonix. I live on water, coffee in the AM and iced tea.

Letter 14

he only advice I was given by the doctor was to avoid fat and eat little and often. I have cut out virtually all fat (except for a little skimmed milk and a few low fat cookies). I have stopped eating red meat and just eat lots of fish and a small amount of chicken. Lots of carbs (rice, potatoes). I've had had a bad reaction to raw spinach and salads so stopped eating those. Amazingly, through the whole experience I have lost only a little weight. It seems to be very important to eat small portions frequently rather than big meals. My meals are approx half the size of what they were before I became ill. Good luck everyone

Letter 15

I have been in the dr's office, and er and I even had the stupid scopes. by the way, I dont recommend people get a scope because it triggers your attacks.

Letter 16

I suggest that you consult with a GOOD gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist well-versed in pancreatic diseases will check for pancreas divisum, autoimmune pancreatitis, allergic pancreatitis, etc. He/she will also take a very close look at any and all medications (prescription or over the counter), including vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies/teas, etc., you may be taking. Sometimes pancreatitis is a common side effect of these.

Other times, there are only very rare instances where such substances result in pancreatitis. A savvy and open-minded physician willing to dig and search for possible causes is a must. And there is a distinct difference between acute and chronic pancreatitis. To all those who have made suggestions regarding diet, please DON'T!! Each case is unique and, depending on the cause, may require special dietary considerations. If anyone doesn't know what they should or shouldn't eat, please contact your gastroenterologist (it's his or her job to keep you well-informed and it's your job to demand it).

You don't have an easy task, that is for sure. Trying eating things little by little and see how your body reacts. You will need a lot of patience and especially self-discipline, something I'm sure you've been aiming for before getting sick with pancreatitis. Good luck to all of you guys!!!!

Here are some more links where people have discussed their experience with the disease