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Eating for FCS

Why eat a very low fat diet? 

The key to living with FCS is eating a very low fat diet. This will stop the triglycerides in your blood from rising.  Avoiding sugary foods and alcohol are important too.

Although it can be challenging and will take some time and effort to get used to, eating this way will help you to avoid the symptoms of FCS.

Use this section to learn about all the things you can eat to stay healthy, with lots of tips and recipes to help you get started.

Get support from a dietitan

If you’re not already working with a dietitian, ask your doctor to refer you. A dietitian can:  

  • support you in making changes and staying healthy throughout your life, including at specific life stages where your nutritional requirements may change. For example during pregnancy
  • discuss all the foods you can and can’t eat, taking all your preferences and lifestyle into account
  • help you come up with new things you could try
  • help you make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need
  • support you if your medical condition changes.


What else can help?

Avoiding smoking and being physically active will help to keep you healthy as well.

There are lots of things you can still eat, the key is getting to know them

Once you start a very low fat diet, you and your doctor can keep an eye on how well it’s working with regular blood tests.

What is a very low fat diet?

Most people who don't have FCS should aim to get half of their food calories (energy) from carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread and pasta, a third from fat, and the rest from protein-rich foods such as beans.

With FCS, your body can only handle a very small amount of fat, so the proportions of the types of foods you can eat is quite different. 

How much fat is safe to eat? 

How much fat you can eat varies from person to person, so talk to your specialist about what’s safe for you.

As a general guide, around 10 to 15% of the energy (calories) you eat should come from fat. This should be spread out throughout the day.

As a general rule:-

  • An average woman needs around 2000 calories a day
  • An average man needs around 2500 calories a day

You may need more than this if you are very active, or less if you're not very active. Use this table to see how much fat this translates to:-

Energy needs in calories

Fat allowance in grams 

10% of energy                                                       15% of energy

2000 22g 33g
2500 28g 42g

This is far less than for people who don’t have FCS, who can eat up to 95g per day for a man and 70g for a woman. To give you an idea, butter is pure fat, and a teaspoon of butter weighs around 5g. So, a slice of toast with butter could easily contain 5-10g of fat.

It's the total amount of fat that matters 

Whilst the quality of fat in your diet is important (and you need to eat more unsaturated fat than saturated fat) the most important thing is the total amount of fat.

Limit simple sugars and refined carbohydrates 

Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates are easy to digest so they enter your blood stream quickly. This raises the sugar in your blood, and the sugar can be converted into fat by your liver, raising your blood fats.

What are simple sugars?

Simple sugars are the types of sugar we add to tea and coffee, and to foods such as cakes and biscuits. They’re also in fruit juice and honey.

What are refined carbohydrates?

Refined carbohydrates are made from grains which have been processed and the outer parts of the grain have been removed. They are found in foods like white flour, white bread, processed breakfast cereals, white rice and pasta.

Instead of these, go for fibre-rich foods. These could be wholegrains such as brown rice and oats, or foods that are made with them, like wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta. Check the label just in case, as the fat content can vary. 

Avoid alcohol

Doctors recommend avoiding alcohol because it changes the way triglycerides are handled in your body, which ultimately results in a rise in blood triglycerides.

  • Alcohol can also cloud your judgement and you might eat things you wouldn’t otherwise, and feeling hungover can make you want to eat comfort food.   
  • Some alcoholic drinks are very sugary.
  • Too much alcohol can lead to pancreatitis.
  • Talk to your doctor or dietitian about whether it’s OK for you to have some alcohol from time to time, and how much.

See our tips for cutting back

What else do I need to know about eating a very low fat diet?

Fats are found in many foods, so eating only a small amount of fat brings a number of challenges:

Getting enough vitamins

You may need to take a regular supplement of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K as they can only be absorbed when there is some fat in your food. If you are advised to take supplements they should be taken with your meal which has the highest fat content to maximise their absorption. These vitamins are essential for healthy eyes, bones and teeth. Your dietitian will be able to discuss supplements with you.

Getting enough essential fats

There are some types of fats which our bodies need but can’t make, so we have to get them from food or supplements. These are called essential fatty acids (linoleic and alpha linolenic acids). Talk to your dietitian about this.

Getting enough energy

Fat contains a lot of energy compared to carbohydrates and proteins, and you only need a small amount of fat to take on a lot of calories. This means very low fat diets can be more bulky and high in fibre. Fibre passes into the large intestine undigested which encourages gut-bacteria to grow, and this can cause bloating and discomfort. It can take a little while for your body to adjust to eating more fibre. 

 Enjoying food and your social life

Food is such a big part of our lives, and our social lives too, so switching to a very low fat diet can bring challenges. Follow the tips throughout these pages to make the most of all the things you can eat and enjoy your social life - use the tabs below. Getting support from your dietitian, doctor and friends can all help too.