Dietary Requirements for someone with Cystic Fibrosis
Maintaining a good nutritional status is now considered an integral part of CF care. Key to achieving this is a high energy, high protein diet along with adequate pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy.
Each individual’s energy requirements will vary depending on their age, growth rate, clinical condition and activity levels. Your child’s height and weight will be monitored at each clinic visit as this helps assess nutritional status.
In addition to having an adequate energy intake for growth it is also important to consider the quality of the diet. Your child’s diet should not just consist of high fat, high sugar items. Fruit and vegetables have the same beneficial effects as for the general population and should also be included. The aim should be to regard eating as the normal, social activity which it is and encouraging normal eating habits is extremely important.
The reality in Cystic Fibrosis is that respiratory infection, gastrointestinal disturbances and many other factors result in a food intake that may not meet energy requirements. If children with CF are not able to maintain weight gain and growth other forms of nutritional support maybe required. This could be in the form of milk or juice based supplement drinks. For a few children overnight tube feeding may need to be considered. Should either of these be necessary your dietitian will discuss with you the options available.
Achieving an adequate nutritional intake is only one part of the nutritional management of Cysic Fibrosis. The majority of children will require pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (eg Creon capsules) to ensure that the food they eat is digested and absorbed. These enzymes should be taken with all food and drinks that contain fat. Your dietitian can help guide you on appropriate doses of enzymes if you are unsure.
Children with CF benefit from seeing a dietitian for regular review. Ensuring that they eat enough and are able to digest it adequately to gain the benefits that good nutritional status can bring to the long term outcome of CF.
Information written by Angela Johnson, a dietition at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth
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