Eating for FCS

The key to living with FCS is with diet. Eating foods which are very low in fat 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 these changes and staying healthy throughout your life
  • 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.

 

What else can help?

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

What is a very low fat diet?

Most people in the UK should aim to get half of their food calories (energy) from carbohydrates, which includes starchy foods such as bread and pasta. A third of calories should come from fat, and the rest from protein foods. This is a good basis for a healthy balanced diet for most people.

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.

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

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, people with FCS should eat between about 10-20g of fat per day. And this should be spread out throughout the day.

This amount of fat is far less than for most people. The recommended amount of fat for people who don’t have FCS is up to 95g per day for a man and up to 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.

There are lots of things you can still eat, so 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.

Are there any problems with eating a very low fat diet?

Fats are found in many foods, so eating only small amounts 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 and D – as these can only be absorbed when there is some fat in your food. These vitamins are essential for healthy eyes, bones and teeth. You can discuss supplements with your dietitian.

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 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. You only need a small amount of fat to take on a lot of calories. This means very low fats diet can be more bulky and higher in fibre, and it can take a little while for your body to adjust. All fibre passes into the large intestine undigested. This encourages gut-bacteria to grow, which can cause bloating and discomfort.

 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 other challenges. Follow the tips throughout these pages to make the most of all the things you can eat and your social life with your friends and family. Getting support from your dietitian, doctor and friends can all help too.

Limit simple sugars and refined carbohydrates 

Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates enter the blood stream quickly, raising your blood sugar, and can be converted to fat by the liver.

What are simple sugars?
Simple sugars are the sugars added to foods, such as cakes and biscuits, and the sugar you add to tea and coffee. 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.

Refined carbohydrates 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 normal way triglycerides are handled in the 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 also 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.