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.
- 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.
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.
Adding the following foods to your diet will increase the amount of fat you eat:
- 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.
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). EFSA Journal 2010; 8(3): 1461. Available at: www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1461.
Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Nutrition factsheet: a guide for children and parents. April 2013. Available at: www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk.
Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Available at: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating
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.
Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Nutrition factsheet: a guide for adults with cystic fibrosis. September 2010. Available at: www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk.