Staying Healthy with CF
As a person living with CF it can be difficult to stay healthy. If you have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), meaning you take supplemental pancreatic enzymes when you eat, you must be careful to eat enough to maintain your weight and stay healthy.
You work hard to maintain your weight when you are feeling well, so you may have to take extra steps to help avoid weight loss when your appetite is decreased when you are not feeling well. In fact, during times of sickness, the body is working harder and needs even more energy for breathing and fighting infections since your body is burning more calories.
Even with a loss of appetite, you should try to eat six to eight small meals a day. If you are lacking the energy to cook, try healthy convenience foods, such as frozen or "take out" meals. If you are sick, it may be hard to breathe and chew at the same time. If that is the case, stay away from foods like bagels, hoagies, or meat, which require a great deal of chewing. Try soft foods and drinks such as: macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, creamed soups, puddings, milkshakes, instant breakfast powder added to whole milk, whole milk yogurts, and high calorie canned formulas. Talk with your doctor and CF Center dietitian about the best food options for when you are not feeling well.
Vitamins are important for a person who has CF and are especially important when you are sick. Be sure to continue to take the vitamins prescribed by your CF Center. The multivitamins prescribed by your CF Center contain important nutrients necessary for when you are feeling well or not. Vitamin supplements contain water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins B and C. They also contain fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Take your vitamins and pancreatic enzymes with food so that fat soluble vitamins are absorbed.
Vitamin A helps fight infections, making it a critical nutrient for you. It is also important for healthy skin and proper functioning of the eyes.
Without enough vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and move it from the blood to bones, bones may become weak and can break more easily. Vitamin D may play a role in many body systems to help keep the body healthy.
Lack of vitamin E can affect the body's ability to protect itself when sick. This may affect your lungs and ability to breathe.
Vitamin K, an important factor in blood clotting and maintaining healthy bones, comes mainly from food but is also made by bacteria in the intestines. However, these bacteria can be killed by antibiotics, which may impact how much vitamin K is absorbed and how fast blood will clot.
For a list of suggested foods that contain these vitamins, please visit Planning Ahead and Shopping with a Purpose.
The CFChef CF Nutrition Guide was developed with input from Registered Dietitian and CF Nutrition Specialist Suzanne Michel, MPH, RD, LDN, based on information and guidelines from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is not affiliated with, and has not endorsed, the AbbVie CFChef program. The content on Chef4CF.com is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.