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Healthy Meals to Eat If You Experience Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), a digestive condition in which the pancreas does not produce enough enzymes to properly digest food, is known as exocrine pancreatic dysfunction. This condition can cause stomach pains, gas and diarrhoea, especially if you eat fatty foods.

EPI is a condition where fat can pass through the intestines and not be digested. Jamie Lee McIntyre is a registered dietitian, nutrition communications specialist, and says that you should not give up fats completely. However, EPI diets should still contain healthy fats. Your doctor may recommend that you get up to 30% of your daily calories from fat.McIntyre states that some fat is necessary to meet your daily calorie requirements, as well as to absorb fat-soluble vitamins D, E and K. EPI patients who have a low calorie intake may find it helpful to keep fat to a minimum of 25-30% of their daily calories. Patients with EPI should focus on unsaturated fats such as avocado, olive oils, nuts, and seeds.

McIntyre states that fat and fibre needs should be adjusted to individual symptoms, co-existing diagnoses, and medication side effects. You should also drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have to replace any water lost from your stool.

She says that diuretic drinks, like those containing caffeine should be restricted and that alcohol should be avoided. Pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas, can be caused by alcohol.

You may want to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms by eating five to six smaller meals per day, instead of the usual three. Here are some healthy and quick recipes that you can make.

1. Oatmeal with Nuts

EPI patients may prefer to start their day with oatmeal with low fat milk. This is a great source of vitamins A, D and K, which helps maintain your immune system. A half cup of rolled oatmeal cooked in 1/2 cup low-fat milk has approximately 200 calories.

McIntyre suggests adding some fixings such as blueberries, almond butter or ground flaxseed to increase the healthy fibre and fats. She says that almond slivers and finely crushed walnuts may be easier to digest because they are more easily broken down than whole nuts.

She explains that fibre can help to combat constipation (which can be a side effect of some medications) and bulk up stool, helping to prevent diarrhoea.

EPI Benefit: EPI milk provides extra protein and calcium, while nuts provide fibre and healthy oils.

2. Egg white and vegetable omelet

A breakfast omelet with egg whites, chopped vegetables and accompanied by a slice of whole wheat toast is another option for those on an EPI diet. A large cooked egg has about 75 calories. Egg whites have only 17 calories. The number of calories in an omelet will vary depending on the vegetables you use. Low-calorie options include tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms. Whole-wheat toast is about 80 calories with 14 grams of carbs.

McIntyre suggests cooking the vegetables until tender and adding 1/4 cup reduced fat shredded Cheddar cheese, 1 or 2 whisked egg and 1 to 2 chopped onions. Serve the vegetables with whole-wheat toast or multigrain bread with a drizzle olive oil after they are cooked.

EPI Benefit: Eggwhites are a source of protein and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals. Add low-fat cheese to increase your intake of calcium and protein.

3. Taco Salad

McIntyre suggests making a taco salad, with greens (including spinach, peppers and onions), 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 cup avocado, for lunch. For crunch, add some cilantro and four to five tortilla chips. Grilled chicken, fish or tofu can be added to your taco salad to increase the amount of protein.

This salad can also be made into a soup by heating bone broth. McIntyre suggests adding cooked and shredded skinless chicken breasts, brown rice and spinach to the broth. Add 1/4 cup of black beans and chopped bell peppers, carrots, and cilantro. Serve with a dollop fat-free sourcream, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze lime juice.

EPI Benefit: Avocado can be a great food because it contains fibre, beta-carotene and vitamins. It also has healthy unsaturated fats.

4. Baked chicken breast

Preheat your oven to [suggestion: 325 or 350] degrees Fahrenheit (F). A mixture of nonfat plain yogurt and mustard is used to cover a boneless, skinless breast of chicken. For crunch, add some whole-wheat pretzels crumbled for a crispy crust. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

EPI Benefit: The protein in the chicken is high, and the calcium from the yoghurt. It’s a good idea for food to be baked, grilled, roasted, broil, poach, or air-fried whenever possible. McIntyre says this will help you avoid overdoing the unhealthy fats that can be associated with sauteing or frying.

5. Wild Rice and Fish

Another healthy option to add to your EPI diet is baked fish with wild rice. McIntyre suggests a light fish such as cod. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a sauce using 1 1/2 teaspoons (tbsps) of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tbsp fresh orange juice. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake the fish until it is cooked. This can take up to 15 minutes depending on how large the fish is. Serve with 1/2 cup wild rice and tender cooked vegetables like carrots or spinach.

EPI Benefit: This nutritious meal provides protein, fiber and heart-healthy oils in the form of Omega-3s.

6. Turkey Meatballs

Pre-heat your oven to [suggestion 375 or 400] degrees Fahrenheit. Combine ground turkey breasts with egg whites, whole-wheat breadcrumbs, low-fat grated cheddar cheese, salt and oregano. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through. The meatballs can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. Serve the meatballs with a light oil and vinegar dressing.

EPI Benefit: Meatballs provide a good source for protein and the salad gives you fibre.

7. Sliced Apple with Peanut Butter

EPI patients can still eat fat-free diets. A quick and filling snack idea is to slice an apple and dip it in peanut butter. Peanut butter contains approximately 8 grams of fat. McIntyre suggests peeling an apple if you have difficulty digesting fibre. McIntyre suggests that you also try bananas with peanut butter.

EPI Benefit: Peanut Butter is a healthy oil that contains fibre, vitamins and minerals, such as potassium.

8. Yogurt and Berries

Greek yoghurt, which is nonfat, makes a great addition for your EPI diet. For an extra dose of fibre, protein and healthy fats, mix the yoghurt in a bowl with berries that are high in fibre or add chopped nuts or almonds.

EPI Benefit: Greek Yogurt has more protein and lower carbs than regular yogurt. Nuts are a great way to get healthy fats into your diet.

9. Dessert with Fruit

McIntyre explains that you can also purée fruit to make homemade ice pops or add chunks of fruit to plain nonfat yogurt and top it off with crushed graham crackers.

EPI Benefit: The fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals and soluble fibe

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