Cystic Fibrosis Diet & Nutrition

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential


It is important to support your cystic fibrosis (CF) treatment regimen with a healthy, balanced diet, in accordance with the advice of your doctor. This should include a variety of different foods – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – which are the major sources of energy for the body.1,2


Good nutrition:

  • Supports your CF treatment
  • Helps your lungs function
  • Strengthens your immune system to fight infections
  • Provides essential vitamins and minerals
  • Contributes to overall wellbeing


The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating shows the government recommendations for how much of each of the different types of foods that make up your overall diet you should be eating, to ensure it is healthy and balanced.3





Eating a diet rich in energy, fat, and protein

People with CF may need more energy (calories), fat, and protein than other people because their body finds it more difficult to digest and absorb these nutrients from the food they eat.2,4 The exact amount of energy and fat needed varies from person to person, so you should always check with your doctor, nurse, or dietician for CF dietary advice specific to you.4 In order to eat the additional energy, fat, and protein needed, three meals a day plus snacks between meals is usually recommended.2

Adding the following foods to your diet will increase the amount of fat you eat:2,5

  • Cream (30-40% fat)
  • Grated cheese, cream cheese, or mascarpone can be used to thicken sauces or added to soups, omelettes, mashed potato, or pasta
  • Butter, margarine, or oil
  • Eggs (e.g. hard-boiled eggs taste great in salads)
  • Add meat or cheese-based sauces to pasta
  • Diced ham or bacon
  • Mix salad dressing, olive oil, butter, or sauce into vegetables
  • Add ice cream or crème fraîche to fruit
  • Pulses (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, haricot beans) make tasty soups
  • Nuts (e.g. pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts)

Remember, when you are adding extra calories to your meals, it is important to think of adding them in a healthy way by selecting something from the basic food groups: protein, dairy foods, fruit and vegetables (rather than eating extra cake or chocolate).

It is very important not to eliminate fat-containing foods or drinks from your diet at any time because they are an essential part of your CF treatment.

Please speak to your doctor or nurse if you are:

  • Struggling to consume enough energy
  • Experiencing weight loss due to a poor appetite, chest infection, or any other reason
  • Generally concerned about your weight at any time

They may arrange a meeting with a dietician, who can advise you on any appropriate changes that can be made to your diet. They may recommend a supplement to you to help you meet your energy and nutrient needs.

Nutrition and physical activity

Good nutrition and an active lifestyle is a recipe for good wellbeing. One thing to be aware of is that physical activity can burn calories. It is important that you talk to your CF Care Team about the right amount of nutritional intake and physical activity for you. Take a look at the Exercise section for ideas that will help you keep your health in good shape.

Here is a list of suggested foods for your three main meals and for your snacks.5 If there are any you haven’t tried yet, give them a go!


Suggested foods




  • Egg (hard-boiled, poached, fried, scrambled or two-egg omelette) and toast with baked beans
  • Bagel with cream cheese
  • Full fat yoghurt
  • Muesli with nuts and seeds
  • Cereal or porridge with whole milk
  • Toast with butter or margarine spreads
  • Occasional lean bacon and/or sausage





      • Avocado salad with olive oil or dressing
      • Cheese, salmon, tuna or chicken sandwich
      • Cheese on toast
      • Cheese and crackers
      • Ham and cheese sandwich
      • Egg salad sandwich (two large eggs plus mayonnaise)
      • Bacon, salad and dressing
      • Two slices of cheese pizza
      • Thick vegetable or chicken soup






        • Chicken and vegetables
        • Salmon fillet with salad
        • Fish with mashed potato
        • Quiche and salad
        • Roast dinner
        • Lasagne
        • Pizza
        • Curry and rice
        • Chocolate pudding
        • Yoghurt
        • Ice cream






          • Handful of peanuts/almonds
          • Slice of hard cheese
          • Croissant
          • Slice of buttered toast
          • Medium avocado
          • Muesli with whole milk
          • Whole milk yoghurt
          • Large glass of whole milk or milkshake
          • Muesli or cereal bar
          • Bag of microwave popcorn
          • Ice cream
          • Biscuits




            Menu suggestions


            Vegetable tart tatin with acacia honey (serves 8)

            30 minutes

            45 minutes

            Intake per portion:
            360 kcal and 27 g fat


            • 100 g carrots
            • 100 g parsnips
            • 100 g swede
            • 100 g turnips
            • 150 g salted butter, diced
            • 100 g honey
            • 20 g ginger
            • 1 sheet of puff pastry
            • Salt and pepper


            1. Peel and finely slice the vegetables. Cook separately in salted, simmering water (15 minutes parsnips - 20 minutes swede/turnips - 15 minutes carrots).
            2. Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7.
            3. Place the vegetables in a tart dish and distribute evenly. Place the diced butter on top, pour over the honey and season.
            4. Peel the ginger and place it in the middle of the dish. Cook for 10 minutes.
            5. Remove the ginger and place the rolled- out puff pastry over the vegetables. Fold any overhanging pastry inside the dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
            6. Remove the dish from the oven, place an upside-down plate on top of it and turn over.


            Top tip: Use small, firm parsnips without too many blemishes. They can be replaced with courgettes or leeks if preferred. Remove the core of the swede if brownish. And if you can't find swede, increase the amount of turnips. The vegetable tart tatin is also good as a snack.

            Preparation: 30 minutes

            Cooking: 45 minutes

            Intake per portion: 360 kcal and 27 g fat

            Chicken fajitas (serves 4)

            30 minutes

            15 minutes

            Intake per portion:
            510 kcal and 18 g fat


            • 4 plain tortillas
            • 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green pepper
            • 1 red onion
            • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
            • 400 g chicken breast
            • 3 tablespoon olive oil
            • 2 teaspoon Tex-mex spices
            For the guacamole:
            • 1 avocado
            • Juice of 1 small lemon
            • 1 shallot
            • 1.5 teaspoon guacamole spices


            1. Quarter the avocado, remove the skin and stone. Place the flesh in a blender. Peel and quarter the shallot and add to the blender. Squeeze the lemon and add the juice, followed by the spices. Blend to a smooth purée.
            2. Cut the chicken into strips and place them in a soup bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and spices. Mix well.
            3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
            4. Cut the peppers into thin strips, discarding the seeds. Peel and cut the onion into thin slices and stir-fry the vegetables in a frying pan on a high heat for 5 minutes.
            5. Heat a little oil in a high-sided frying pan and brown the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side.
            6. Warm the tortillas in the oven for 2-3 minutes in aluminium foil. Place them on plates and spread with the guacamole. Add the vegetables and chicken and serve.

            Top tip: For a gourmet version, add Gruyère cheese, some coriander/chervil leaves or a spoonful of crème fraîche.

            Bananas baked in their skins and spiked with vanilla pods (serves 4)

            10 minutes

            20 minutes

            Intake per portion:
            220 kcal and 3 g fat


            • 4 ripe bananas
            • 4 tablespoon mixed flower honey
            • 4 tablespoon salted butter
            • 4 vanilla pods
            • Parchment paper
            • String


            1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
            2. Make a vertical cut along the entire length of each banana to 3/4 of its depth and without detaching the skin. Gently pull apart along the cut and insert the honey and butter cut into small pieces.
            3. Cut each vanilla pod into 6-8 pieces. Insert the pieces of pod along the length of the banana.
            4. Wrap each banana in parchment paper to form a parcel. Tie with string and bake for 20 minutes.
            5. Allow to cool slightly and serve.


            Top tip: This dessert is good served with caramel or vanilla ice cream.

            Basque style pizza (serves 6)

            20 minutes

            25 minutes

            Intake per portion:
            270 kcal and 13 g fat


            • 7 tablespoons tomato sauce
            • 1 roll of pizza dough, 260 g
            • 3 g garlic
            • 500 g tomatoes
            • 2 yellow peppers
            • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
            • 4 tablespoons olive oil
            • Salt / pepper


            1. Preheat the oven to 210°C/Gas Mark 7.
            2. Place the tomatoes in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute and then drain. Remove the skin, cut into thin slices and remove the seeds.
            3. Cut the peppers into strips and brown in a frying pan for 5 minutes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Peel the garlic, slice finely and add to the peppers. Continue cooking.
            4. Roll out the dough and spread with the tomato sauce. Add the tomato slices to the pizza. Top with the pepper and garlic mixture and season with a little salt and pepper.
            5. Bake for 15 minutes.
            6. Remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil and serve. 


            Top tip: The pizza can be served as a main meal, accompanied by a salad, and topped with diced chicken or a few black olives cut into small cubes.


            1. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). EFSA Journal 2010; 8(3): 1461. Available at:

            2. Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Nutrition factsheet: a guide for children and parents. April 2013. Available at:

            3. Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Available at:

            4. Borowitz D, Baker RD, Stallings V. Consensus report on nutrition for paediatric patients with cystic fibrosis. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2002; 35(3): 246–59.

            5. Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Nutrition factsheet: a guide for adults with cystic fibrosis. September 2010. Available at:

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