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Recovering from Longterm Illness: Can You Help?!

Hi all-
I'm fairly new around here, though I've lurked for a long time.

Here's my deal: I've had a couple bouts with pretty severe pancreatitis in the past year. My body's been through a ton (including some organ failures, necrosis in the abdomen, hospital-acquired C. diff, etc), and I spent a lot of time on a pure IV feed (weeks/months with no food at all, many more months on limited liquids only).

I can eat solids again now, but between the time spent not eating, the trauma/healing, and pancreatic/absorption issues, I am WAY skinny.

Pancreatic patients need to eat within the following guidelines:

NO alcohol
NO transfats
NO artificial sweeteners
No caffeine
No deep-fried foods
Generally low-fat
Generally not meat-heavy
Minimal dyes
Minimal preservatives
Minimal refined sugar (especially avoid HFCS)

I eat 6-8 times a day. Large volume/bulk is hard on my system, so I eat smaller meals.

I generally eat mostly vegetarian/pescatarian, though I do eat some chicken, pork, etc. I don't eat beef, as it hurts my system. I do fine with most plant fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils, etc) in moderation. i MUST have high calcium intake, as I quickly develop severe calcium deficiencies (which lead to seizures). The more natural and "whole food" the diet, the better; I love food, I love eating, and I am looking for advice! No food allergies or squeamishness, just the doctor guidelines for the pancreas stuff.

So, I challenge you, friends; can you offer me suggestions of delicious things for a single girl to make so I can get back to a remotely normal weight?!

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  1. I believe a low fat, carb heavy diet stresses pancreatic beta cells the most, and protein and fats the least... how about at least 2% Greek yogurt for the calcium and protein? Sugars are sugars, refined or not... and all carbs/fruits are the same to your pancreas AFAIK... I'm guessing that leafy, high fiber veggies, avocadoes, nuts are good sources of healthy fats and nutrients... I hope you have a complete and healthy recovery. Maybe whey peptide smoothies made with Greek yogurt and a small amount of frozen berries a few times per day?

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcf

      Oh the smoothie sounds helpful! What is whey peptide? I assume that's available at health food stores? Thanks!

      1. re: chartreauxx

        It's a very bioavailable protein powder, you can buy it unflavored, so without sweetening. I like Designer Protein brand, a lot of folks like Muscle Milk, but I haven't used their unflavored variety. You can sip a smoothie over an hour or more and get lean body mass building protein in a tasty way that allows you to adjust ingredients to meet your needs. Some folks mix the protein powder with cottage cheese and almond meal or a little flour to make pancakes, too, though I haven't. To thin the Greek yogurt (much more protein than regular), you can use ice cubes, too, so you don't consume too much frozen fruit sugar at once.

        I'm pretty sure you can sneak some avocado, for healthy fats and calories or some leafy spinach into a fruit shake for extra vitamins, too. HTH, and be well, wishing you a smooth recovery.

    2. My suggestions are re the need for calcium. I don't see anything on your list that would exclude tapioca pudding. If you use the recipe for Fluffy Tapioca on the Minute Tapioca box, you will use only two eggs to a quart of milk and can cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup (or less if you eat the pudding with a strawberry or slice of peach). With nothing but milk (use 1% if you like), egg, the tapioca, vanilla, and a small amount of natural sugar, you will have a very nutritious food that seems within your guidelines. Baked custard has more egg. Cornstarch pudding (blanc mange) can be made without egg. Bread puddings and rice pudding are another option---you can modify the sugar as needed and have some fruit with it or add raisins. Yogurt? How about clam chowder using canned minced clams and 1% milk---then thicken it a bit with just a little instant mashed potato. Getting into commercial ice creams and pudding from a mix, you would have to read very carefully what's in it. If you can find an acceptable chocolate, hot chocolate made with 1%. If you can find some OK ice cream, then milk shakes and malts. You are going to have to learn a lot of chemistry and read a lot of labels, I think. BTW given your medical parameters I should think your insurance would cover a consult with a registered dietitian---very helpful as they know tons more about diet than doctors do. (Sorry if that offends anyone but I cooked for my heart-patient husband for over twenty years and that was my experience.)

      1. I make a chia seed pudding with different kinds of milks and stevia. The chia seeds are powerfull, healthful little things and the puddings are easy on the system and good for breakfast, snacks or dessert. I like chia, almond milk, cocoa, stevia. Google chia pudding and customize to your needs, the varieties are endless.

        1. Right now you should be able to get peaches and pears from local sources. I think there is no better simple snack that a scoop of good cottage cheese and a fresh peach or pear. You can add a little spice to that or a few natural almonds. I've had to try several brands of cottage cheese before finding what I like best at Whole Foods.

          I also want to recommend the 365 Everyday brand of ricotta cheese. It tastes very fresh.

          Today at WF I picked up some fresh mozzarella and I plan to make a Caprese salad. You could do this if you can have salami, or some other sausage. Very seasonal, and very fresh.

          I hope you make a good recovery. Good luck.

          1. Thanks guys! These are super helpful ideas! I LOVE cottage cheese, ricotta, tapioca, etc, but haven't eaten any in years. And I am a complete peach addict...

            Querencia, I think you're right about reading labels and learning chemistry.

            Sedimental, that sounds great! Do you always put meat in your caprese? An uncured meat or something like seafood (shrimp maybe?) could be really good with that....