Pancreatitis Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Pancreatitis is a common disease that affects the pancreas, producing digestive juices and enzymes. The average person has approximately a 50% chance of developing this condition in their lifetime. Diet can play an integral role in preventing or managing pancreatitis by changing your lifestyle habits.

Each year, almost 300,000 individuals in the United States are hospitalized to hospitals with pancreatitis. A doctor must closely monitor this highly dangerous and painful illness. In fact, no food or beverage is permitted for the first several days; all fluids are given via an IV.

As the pancreas starts to repair and function again, clear liquids are introduced first, followed by bland, low-fat meals, all while being closely monitored by the health care team to ensure that the food is tolerated. Acute pancreatitis may be fatal, so get medical help as soon as possible.

While most individuals recover well from acute pancreatitis, roughly a quarter of those diagnosed will have repeated episodes, leading to chronic pancreatitis. You’re more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, diabetes, liver failure, and other potentially fatal disorders if you have chronic pancreatitis.

Following a pancreatitis diet is vital for recovery and preventing the condition from progressing to the chronic stage. Unfortunately, some people are more likely to develop pancreatitis than others, such as those with a history of substance misuse, usage of certain prescription medicines, bad dietary habits, and heredity.

Light-to-moderate exercise, yoga, and meditation may aid symptom management, and abstaining from alcohol and cigarettes is essential for rehabilitation. Whether you have acute or chronic pancreatitis, the first step is to consume a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

What Is Pancreatitis, and How Does It Affect You?

The pancreas is the major organ that produces digestive enzymes and hormones that aid in the body’s sugar processing. The digestive enzymes activate in the pancreas rather than in the digestive tract when the pancreas malfunctions. Inflammation and pancreatitis may result as a result of this. In addition, scar tissue may occur in both acute and chronic patients, leading the pancreas to function poorly or even fail.

Acute pancreatitis is a rapid pancreatic inflammation that causes swelling, discomfort, and impaired digesting. Serious consequences, especially if the pancreas gets infected, are conceivable.

Chronic pancreatitis is characterized by continuous pancreatic inflammation, which results in irreversible damage to this critical organ. Chronic pancreatitis is incurable, and life-threatening complications such as liver failure, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer may develop.


You may encounter any of the following symptoms if you have pancreatitis. Some people may only have minor symptoms. Others, on the other hand, may have devastating symptoms.

Symptoms of Acute Pancreatitis:

  • Aches and pains in the upper abdomen
  • Upper abdominal pain that spreads to the back or shoulders
  • Pain that becomes worse when you eat
  • The abdomen is soft to the touch
  • Fever or a high temperature
  • The heart beats quickly
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis include:

  • Upper abdominal pain that lasts for a long time or comes and goes
  • Weight reduction is typically dramatic and occurs without effort
  • Stools with a greasy and pungent odor

Causes and Risk Factors

Pancreatitis may be caused by various factors, many of which are tied to food and general health. Pancreatitis may also occur due to a physical accident, surgery, or another medical condition. Risk factors that have been identified include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Gallstones
  • ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholecystectomy, is a surgical technique for gallstones
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Calcium levels in the blood are high
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Triglyceride levels that are too high
  • Infection
  • An abdominal injury
  • Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that affects the lungs.
  • Surgery on the Abdomen
  • Several drugs
  • Pancreatic carcinoma is a kind of cancer that affects the pan
  • Genetics
  • A high-fat diet is recommended for those with Type 2 diabetes

The Risks of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, if left untreated, may lead to significant consequences and even death. Therefore, it is vital to seek immediate medical help when symptoms appear.

  • Pseudocysts have pockets that collect fluid and debris. As a result, they may burst, resulting in infection and internal bleeding.
  • The pancreas becomes sensitive to germs and infection when it is inflamed. In certain circumstances, surgery may be necessary.
  • Kidney failure may occur, necessitating dialysis.
  • Chemical changes in the body may impact oxygen levels, which can cause breathing issues.
  • Damage to insulin-producing cells may lead to diabetes.
  • Because the pancreas generates fewer enzymes, it is more difficult to break down and utilize vital nutrients; malnutrition is very prevalent.
  • Pancreatic cancer is linked to chronic pancreatitis, which causes long-term inflammation of the pancreas.

Do’s and Dont’s In Case of Pancreatitis


  • If your symptoms are severe, you should seek emergency medical help right once.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor if your symptoms are minor or severe.
  • Consume modest, low-fat meals often.


  • Consider the symptoms to be nothing more than a nuisance.
  • A high-fat meal should be consumed.
  • Smoke or drink alcohol.


Nutrition must come first after a diagnosis of acute or chronic pancreatitis. A pancreatitis diet is designed to avoid malnutrition, nutritional deficiencies, and blood sugar imbalances while guarding against kidney and liver disease, pancreatic cancer, and increasing symptoms.

According to Columbia University’s Pancreas Center, focus on a nutrient-dense diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products while avoiding greasy fried meals and alcohol. In addition, their program recommends annual blood tests to evaluate any vitamin deficits, and supplementation is recommended as needed.

The Columbia University diet is quite close to the Mediterranean diet that has been followed for millennia in Greece, Italy, and Spain. Numerous studies have shown that this type of eating lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes, increases A1C levels, improves cognition and mood, protects against Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease, protects against numerous gastrointestinal malignancies, and is linked to a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Although it is readily changed, the conventional Mediterranean diet might be a little too heavy in fats for some people with pancreatitis. Yes, even good fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, and fats from wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats might be too much for some people with this illness. But, like with so many other ailments, the first step is to listen to your body and recognize the meals that make you feel your best.

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should make up the bulk of each meal, with proteins and lipids filling in the gaps.

Many experts recommend aiming for the following daily servings:

  • Entire grains (three servings)
  • 2 fresh fruit servings
  • Vegetables, 5–7 servings
  • 1 pound of nuts
  • 1 tbsp. lean animal protein
  • 1 low-fat dairy serving


  • 3 wild-caught fish servings
  • There should be no more than 2 servings of meat or lamb.
  • 3 egg servings
  • 3–4 chicken or turkey servings
  • Nuts or seeds, 3–4 servings
  • 1–2 servings of sweets that are good for your heart
  • Legumes, 4–6 servings

The ultimate idea here is to feed your body things that are simple to digest and won’t raise your blood sugar while keeping you content. It’s essential to consume meals to compensate for any nutritional shortages caused by pancreatitis. Keep in mind that this is just a suggestion. If you have pancreatitis and know you are allergic or sensitive to any items on this list, stay away from them.

Fruits in the Top 8:

  1. Blackberries and blueberries are high in resveratrol, manganese, fiber, and vitamins C and K, all of which help with digestion and cancer prevention.
  2. Cherries: Cherries are a great snack since they are low in calories and abundant in critical nutrients. They help you lose weight, decrease inflammation, and get a good night’s sleep.
  3. Vitamins A, B, and C and potassium, magnesium, and manganese are abundant in watermelon. Make a watermelon smoothie for breakfast or an afternoon snack; coconut yogurt and chia seeds provide protein in this recipe.
  4. Plums are a great fruit to consume on a pancreatitis diet since they have a low glycemic index and have been shown to decrease cholesterol and assist digestion.
  5. Red grapes: Grape polyphenols have been demonstrated to reduce inflammation and help prevent obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Please have a few as a snack or make this delightful grape, chicken, and walnut salad to include them into your diet and gain the health benefits.
  6. Mangos: Mangos are high in fiber and vitamin C, and they also include minerals including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. This superfruit has been linked to better glycemic management and blood glucose levels.
  7. Apples: Apples are a fast and nutritious snack since they are naturally rich in fiber, which helps to reduce inflammation and assist digestion.
  8. Pomegranate: This great fruit is sweet and crisp, and it’s high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and K. Take a few and put them on top of protein-rich hummus, as many Middle Easterners do.

Vegetables in the Top 7:

  1. Beets: Beets are high in critical minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and B vitamins and have been shown to boost heart, brain, and liver function.
  2. Broccoli: A cup of cooked broccoli supplies more than 100% of a person’s daily vitamin K and C requirements. This mineral-rich veggie also prevents cancer and improves intestinal health.
  3. Spinach: Popeye wasn’t incorrect; spinach is high in nutrients that promote immunity, prevent diabetes, and protect against cancer.
  4. Kale is a nutrient-dense leafy green that has anti-inflammatory effects, helps detoxify eye health, and protects against cancer, making it an excellent addition to any pancreatitis diet. Add a few leaves to a smoothie or use finely chopped kale to replace part or all of the lettuce in a salad.
  5. Lettuce: Salads are an essential feature of the Mediterranean diet and an easy way to acquire the five to seven servings of vegetables per day that are advised. Use darker leaf lettuces and mixed wild greens to get the most vitamins and minerals.
  6. Sweet potatoes are a nutritious carbohydrate that tastes wonderful and are high in beta carotene, vitamin C, copper, vitamin B6, and manganese.
  7. Carrots: Carrots are high in beta carotene, which is linked to the immune system, ocular, and digestive health. They are also one of the most adaptable vegetables in the world. Carrots may be eaten raw, boiled, or juiced as part of a pancreatitis diet.

The top 6 whole grains:

Whole grains should be promoted in a pancreas diet, according to research.

  1. Brown rice: Brown rice is high in fiber and manganese, and substituting white rice with it may reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 16 percent. Because this gluten-free grain has a high-calorie content as a side dish, keeping to single serving size is suggested.
  2. Buckwheat: This gluten-free grain is strong in protein and fiber, as well as antioxidants, and is easily digested. Buckwheat flour may be used to make a nutritious morning pancake, while buckwheat groats can be added to salads or used to make a breakfast porridge.
  3. Polenta is a coarsely ground maize product comparable to Southern grits, popular across the Mediterranean. Top it with mushrooms and lentils, a pinch of feta cheese, and fresh herbs for a substantial and satiating supper. Only buy organic, non-GMO polenta.
  4. Millet is a seed that is sometimes mistaken as a grain since it is high in fiber, naturally gluten-free, and simple to digest. However, this nutrient-dense seed is undergoing a rebirth because of its versatility. Discover millet-based breakfast, lunch, and supper dishes.
  5. Teff: If you haven’t heard of the Ethiopian grain teff, now is the time to learn about it. This grain improves digestion, promotes weight reduction, strengthens the immune system, and supports bone health. It comes in flour and grain forms, and it may be used to produce porridges, pancakes, and tortillas.
  6. Amaranth: This grain has been prized by the Aztecs for thousands of years and is a good source of fiber, manganese, and protein. This gluten-free whole grain promotes digestive health, decreases inflammation, prevents Type 2 diabetes, and promotes weight reduction. Use as a thickening in soups or in place of oats, white rice, or pasta.

Top 5 Nuts and Seeds include:

  1. Almonds: The basic almond, a distant cousin of several stone fruits, is high in protein, fiber, and various vital vitamins and minerals. According to research, they may help manage blood sugar levels, aid weight reduction, and boost fat-soluble nutrition absorption. However, please limit yourself to a single dish due to its relatively high-fat content.
  2. Walnuts: A true nutritional powerhouse, walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart and brain health while also lowering inflammation and blood sugar levels.
  3. Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are high in B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium, as well as vital fatty acids, amino acids, and fiber. Consume in moderation, and limit yourself to half of a single serving due to the high-fat content.
  4. Pumpkin seeds: Previously exclusively accessible in the autumn, pumpkin seeds are now available all year. Pumpkin seeds are delicious put on salads or blended into yogurt because they have a delightful crunch and are high in healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
  5. Pistachios: Pistachios are grown all across the Mediterranean, so it’s no wonder that they’ve made our list. They’re recognized for lowering cholesterol and assisting in weight reduction. However, one-half of an ounce should be enough to serve because of the fat level. While they’re fantastic in pilafs and salads, a handful of pistachios is hard to match for a rapid energy boost.

The Top 4 Lean Protein Sources:

  1. Wild-caught fish: A wild-caught fish or seafood is included in the normal Mediterranean diet at least twice a week. Salmon harvested in the wild has been linked to improved cognitive performance, heart health, and cancer prevention.
  2. Poultry: Chicken and lean turkey cuts are a good source of protein. To keep the fat content within safe limits, stick to grilling, baking, or poaching rather than frying. Consume chicken bone broth, which is naturally high in collagen and L-glutamine, to aid digestion. It has been demonstrated to maintain gut integrity while modifying gut microbiota (flora) to enhance digestive performance.
  3. Cage-free eggs are higher in protein, contain more amino acids, and have less saturated fat than cage-free eggs. As a result, eggs are a popular breakfast item that may also be used for quick lunches and meals.
  4. Legumes: Legumes, which are rich in protein, low in fat, and high in fiber, are an essential element of a healthy pancreatitis diet because they assist in balancing blood sugar levels and aid with weight reduction. Lipase, a digestive enzyme produced by the pancreas, is found in beans such as lentils, mung beans, and garbanzo beans. Try hummus for lunch or a bowl of hearty Turkey Chili with Adzuki Beans to get a variety of beans into your diet.

Top 3 Low-Fat Dairy Products:

  1. When following a pancreatitis diet, use fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt with no added sugar or sweeteners. This dairy product, high in probiotics for gut health and protein, is ideal for breakfast when served with whole-grain bread and berries.
  2. Cottage cheese is a kind of cheese made from cheese that is abundant in calcium and vitamin B12, making it a perfect snack, especially when combined with other pancreatitis diet items like nuts, seeds, and fruit.
  3. Kefir: This cultured dairy product is high in protein, calcium, and vitamin D and is known for its immunity-boosting properties and beneficial microorganisms that ease digestion. Kefir may be used as a mid-morning snack or substituted for another dairy in your favorite smoothie.

Foods to stay away from: 

  1. Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes
  2. Wheat, soy, dairy, maize, and artificial sweeteners are all known or suspected allergies.
  3. Foods that have been fried
  4. Pasta and white bread are examples of white flour items.
  5. Sugar
  6. Commercially prepared meals containing trans-fatty acids

Changes in Lifestyle

  1. Stop smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products.
  2. Each day, eat three to four modest meals.
  3. Drink at least 8 ounces of water per 10 pounds of body weight each day to stay hydrated.
  4. To relieve tension and discomfort, meditate and practice relaxation techniques.
  5. Yoga should be done twice a week. According to research published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, yoga improves people’s overall quality of life with chronic pancreatitis.

Dietary Guidelines

  • Pancreatitis affects 300,000 persons in the United States each year.
  • Diabetes, malnutrition, infection, renal failure, and internal bleeding are all potential concerns.
  • Chronic pancreatitis has been linked to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • Pancreatitis develops and is treated in part due to dietary factors.
  • Small, low-fat, nutrient-dense meals are part of a pancreatitis diet.
  • The key to healing is to get your blood sugar levels back to normal.

Natural Pancreatitis Treatments

  • A Mediterranean diet is good for blood sugar control and has been linked to a decreased incidence of pancreatic cancer.
  • Lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, fruits, veggies, and moderate dairy intake offer energy and satisfaction.
  • Yoga twice a week has been demonstrated to help people with chronic pancreatitis improve their overall quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I eat to prevent pancreatitis?

A: The best way to prevent pancreatitis from occurring is by eating a diet that does not include foods high in fat and sugar. Foods such as chicken, vegetables, fish, and rice are good for your health. Avoid alcohol or cigarettes if you want the best protection against pancreatic disease.

What kind of diet helps prevent the recurrence of pancreatitis?

A: The dietary risks for a person with chronic pancreatitis are numerous, but the best steps to take would be to eat healthily and avoid foods that can cause inflammation.

Can pancreatitis be prevented?

A: Yes, there are several ways to prevent pancreatitis. A low-fat diet and regular activity or exercise are the most common way. It would help if you also avoided alcohol consumption, smoking cigarettes, and drugs like cocaine, as these can all cause the risk of developing this condition in your body. If you have diabetes, then you must monitor your blood glucose levels regularly because high blood glucose levels are one of the main causes of pancreatitis

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