How can I eat less fat?


Find out how much fat is in different foods, and how you can begin to eat a very  low fat diet.

Keep a diet diary

  • Before you start your new way of eating, it’s a great idea to keep a food diary. It helps you to see exactly what foods you are eating, how much fat is in them, and how this is related to any symptoms you might have.
  • Simply write down the foods you eat and how much fat is in them, and add up the total at the end of the day.
  • You can go a step further and write down the times of day when you ate and your moods and any symptoms throughout the day. This helps you spot if certain foods bring on symptoms, and if there’s anything that affects what foods you choose. If you notice you go for fattier foods if you’re tired or upset for example, you can then develop strategies to help you avoid this.
  • Keep your diet diary going every day when you first change your diet. You can also review your diary with the dietitian every time you visit. Once you are confident in your new way of eating, you don’t need to keep a diary every day – although it can be useful – but you can write one from time to time to help you stay on track.
  • Use the HEART UK food diary to help you. Make a note of the number of grams of fat you are eating in each food item. Print out the diary or use it as a guide for keeping your own journal. 

Check the label

You can see how much fat is in a food product by checking the label.

  • Look for the total fat content. You’ll find the labels on the front or back of the packet. They will show the amount of total fat and saturated fats in the product. It’s the total fat that’s most important.
  • The main thing is to know the total fat in the amount you eat. The fat will be written in grams per 100g, and sometimes per portion as well. The main thing to know is the total fat in what you're actually eating. 
  • Look for traffic lights. Sometimes labels are colour-coded with red, amber and green. Go for green for fat, but still add up the total throughout the day.
  • Keep checking the labels. Recipes change from time to time so keep an eye on them.
  • Not all labels state the fat content. If that’s the case, or there’s no label at all, it’s best to avoid. Some foods are surprisingly high in fat so it’s not worth the risk.

What do high, medium and low fat mean? 

High fat 

  • Any drink with more than 8.75g fat per 100ml.
  • Any food with more than 17.5g fat per 100g.

High fat foods include oil, butter, ghee, lard, suet, goose fat, coconut oil and hard margarine. All spreads and cooking fats are high in fat so you will need to avoid these.

Medium fat 

  • Any food with more than 3g and less than 17.5g fat per 100g.
  • Any drink with more than 1.5g and less than 8.75g fat per 100ml.

Low fat

  • Any food with less than 3g fat per 100g.
  • Any drink with less than 1.5g fat per 100ml.

Eat these alongside other fat free foods within your daily fat allowance. 

Tips for cooking without fats and oils

  • Spreads labelled “light”, “lite” or “low fat” have the lowest fat content, but they are still high in fat.
  • Invest in some cooking equipment. A good non-stick frying pan for fat-free ‘stir fries’ and a steamer will be very useful.
  • Use a cooking method that doesn’t need fat such as poaching, steaming, microwaving, grilling, boiling or casseroling.   

How can I make my food taste good?  

It’s well known that fats add flavour to food. To add flavor without the fat, use lots of herbs, spices and flavourings like soy sauce and lemon juice in your cooking. Check out our low fat recipes for some inspiration.   

Watch out for foods that are high in sugar

Some foods can seem healthy but are actually high in sugar or refined carbohydrates. Try to avoid these:

  • Sugary drinks – some drinks are low in fat but high in sugar  including fruit juices, soft drinks and alcohol.
  • Honey and Agave – like sugar, these also raise your triglycerides.
  • White bread, white pasta and white rice.

Low fat foods at a glance

These foods are generally OK to eat. Just double check the labels and watch portion sizes to make sure the fat fits within your daily allowance.

  • Fruits and vegetables – most fresh fruit and vegetables. When choosing canned, chose varieties with no added sugar. Avoid avocado, olives, coconut and nuts.
  • Beans, peas and lentils – as long as they are not cooked with added fats.
  • White fish (which isn’t oily) – such as cod, haddock, skate, sole and plaice. Canned tuna in brine or spring water (but not in oil), redder cuts of tuna and monk fish are OK too.
  • Most shellfish – including  prawns, squid, and the white meat of crab and lobster. Clams, mussels and oysters are OK in limited amounts.
  • Chicken and turkey breast, and the breast meat of most other poultry – but remove the skin and any visible fat. Check the labels of other meat products, you can sometimes find low fat beef, pork, ham, venison, liver, kidney or ostrich.
  • Wholegrain bread and crispbreads – but keep an eye on the amount and check the labels because the ingredients vary greatly between manufacturers.
  • Brown rice – steamed or boiled.
  • Wholemeal pasta – but check the label. Avoid egg pasta.
  • No-added-sugar wholegrain breakfast cereals – such as oats, Shredded Wheat, Weetabix and Branflakes.
  • Air-popped popcorn and rice cakes – Air-popped popcorn is where the corn is ‘popped’ without any oil.
  • Boiled, mashed and jacket potatoes – without added fat such as butter or oil.
  • Skimmed milk and fat free dairy products – including yoghurts, cottage cheese and quark, but check the labels. 
  • Egg white – but not egg yolk. 
  • Chestnuts – in limited amounts, but not other nuts. 
  • Herbs, spices and some flavour enhancers – including soy sauce, fish sauce, lemon juice, garlic, gherkins, vinegars and fat-free, no-sugar salad dressings and marinades. 
  • Miso. 
  • Sugar-free drinks – including water, unsweetened tea and coffee, sugar-free squash and sugar-free fizzy drinks.

High fat foods at a glance

Avoid these foods to help you avoid FCS symptoms. They will quickly take you over your fat allowance.

  • All oils and fats – including olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, margarines, spreads, butter, lard, ghee.
  • Avocado, olives, coconut, coleslaw and hummus.
  • Oily fish – such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, turbot, brill and tinned tuna in oil.
  • Red meat and processed meat – such as beef, lamb, pork, sausages and bacon, but check the labels on red meat because sometimes you can find low fat options.
  • Meat pies, pasties, pork pies and pate.
  • Egg pasta.
  • Egg yolk or whole egg, and quiche.
  • Chips, crisps and all types of fried snacks.
  • Nuts, seeds, and nut butters.
  • Full fat and even partially skimmed dairy products – such as milk and semi skimmed milk, cheese, cream cheese, crème fraiche and ice cream.
  • Chocolate, toffees, lemon curd, chocolate spreads, cakes, fudge and sweet biscuits, Indian sweets.
  • Pastries, pies, flans and tarts.
  • Mayonnaise, salad cream and salad dressings made with oil.
  • Soups and sauces made with fat or oil.
  • Chutneys and pickles – check the label.

Using MCT oil

MCT oil is a type of oil which you can use instead of other cooking fats and oils. It’s broken down in a different way in the body so it doesn’t raise your triglycerides. It’s available on prescription in some areas.

Speak to your doctor or dietitian about using MCT oil and whether it’s suitable for you. Make sure you only use medical grade MCT oil as some products online are not safe if you have FCS. 

Using MCT oil has some pros and cons:


  • It can help you take on enough energy, which can be tricky on a very low fat diet. This is especially important for children who need enough while they’re growing.
  • It gives you an option for cooking with oil.


  • It’s hard to cook with because it burns easily.
  • Some people find it has an unpleasant aftertaste.

Focus on what you can eat 

Make sure you get enough protein

Try to have protein-rich foods at each meal and snack. Go for fat-free or low-fat options.

Drink enough water

Our bodies are 70% water, and we need to keep on taking on fluids just to function. It’s also really important for your pancreas and for digestion.

Choose foods full of nutrients

Choose nutrient rich foods to make sure you get the nutrients your body needs. This includes vegetables, wholegrains, beans and pulses, fat free and virtually fat free dairy foods without added sugar, and lean protein foods such as chicken without the skin, non-oily fish, shellfish, etc

Stick with it

It takes a few weeks for new habits to form. So, try to stick with new changes for a few weeks, even if they’re challenging at first, and see how your body feels once it’s had a chance to adapt.