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People with CF need extra calories on a daily basis to maintain overall health. A high-calorie, high-fat diet rich in vitamins and nutrients may help keep the body strong and healthy. It's important to make smart choices. You can do this by choosing high-calorie, high-fat options that also add nutritional value and include lots of salt and protein. Find what works best for you, and stick with it. In addition, be sure to talk to your dietitian about figuring out the best diet for you.1

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Eating a balanced diet1,2

Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is very important. Doing so may help you reach or maintain a healthy weight, promote growth, and support the immune system. For a person with CF, here is an example of what a balanced diet might look like:

Dairy products

  • 4 servings minimum
  • Serving = 1 cup milk (dairy or soy) or yogurt, 1 oz. hard cheese, 6 oz. pudding or ice cream

Meat, poultry, fish, or meat substitutes (eggs, tofu or tempeh, cheese)

  • 3 servings minimum
  • Serving = 3 oz. meat, poultry, meat substitute, fish; 3 eggs; 3 oz. cheese

Fruits and vegetables

  • 5 servings minimum
  • Serving = ½ cup fruit, ½ cup vegetables (cooked or raw), ¼ cup dried fruit

Carbohydrates (starchy foods: grains, cereals, potatoes, rice)

  • 6 servings minimum
  • Serving = ½ cup; 1 oz. bread, 1 oz. crackers

Healthy fats

  • 5 servings minimum
  • Serving = 1 tsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. salad dressing, 6 nuts, 1 Tbsp. peanut butter

Remember, this is just an example of a balanced diet. These are the minimum number of servings for each food group. Talk with your dietitian about figuring out the best diet for you. Every individual is different and has different needs, so serving sizes will change based on what is best for you.

Healthy snacking3,4

Picking smart options when snacking can help contribute to a well-balanced diet. Here are some healthy snack options to make at home or pick up when you're on the go:

  • Homemade or store-bought trail mix (mixed nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc)
  • Cheese, pepperoni, crackers
  • Cheese, fruit, handful of nuts
  • Yogurt and granola parfait
  • Peanut butter spread on crackers, muffins, or bagels
  • Peanut butter with celery, apples, or bananas. Top with raisins or dried cranberries
  • Pretzels with peanut butter, hummus, or dipped in chocolate
  • Pudding
  • Frozen yogurt or ice cream with nuts, candy, and/or fresh fruit
  • Strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream
  • Banana split with toppings
  • Raw vegetables and creamy dip
  • Guacamole and/or salsa with corn chips
  • Slice of vegetable pizza
  • Spinach artichoke dip with corn chips or pita bread
  • Slice of zucchini bread
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

These are just a few examples of healthy snacks—but really, it's up to you. The possibilities are endless; just try to make sure you're sneaking in some fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats (avocado, peanut butter, salad dressing, etc) when you can.

Fruits and vegetables1,3,4

A balanced diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Both have vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help your lungs fight inflammation and your immune system fight infections. Here are some tips for adding more color to your diet:
  • Buy ready-to-eat green salads and baby carrots
  • Keep a bag of shredded carrots in the refrigerator. Add them to meatballs, meatloaf, and spaghetti sauce
  • Add chopped vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli) to lasagna or pizza
  • Commit to having half of your plate filled with vegetables at dinner
  • Add sliced tomato, avocado, or other vegetables to your sandwich
  • Have a glass of purple grape juice
  • Use your blender to make a fruit smoothie
  • Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter so you'll think to eat it
  • Have fruit pie for dessert
  • Try a fruit or vegetable you've never tasted
  • Top pancakes or waffles with fresh fruit in addition to syrup or butter
  • Top pork chops with mango-pineapple salsa in addition to gravy
  • Order sweet potato fries instead of regular French fries
  • Add roasted red pepper slices to sandwiches. Find them in a jar, frozen, or even roast at home
  • Try cream soups: cream of carrot, butternut squash, or pumpkin. Several brands are available in the grocery store
  • Grill or sauté eggplant slices; add to sandwiches
  • Add chopped red peppers and onions (or any veggie you prefer) to macaroni and cheese
  • Top baked potatoes with cooked vegetables and cheese

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References: 1. University Health Care Nutrition Care Service. High Calorie High Protein Diet for Cystic Fibrosis Pamphlet. 2. What is cystic fibrosis? Teens Health from Nemours. Kids Health website. http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/cf_diet.html. Accessed May 1, 2016. 3. Color your calories: adding antioxidants to your high-calorie CF diet. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website. https://www.cff.org/PDF-Archive/Color-Your-Calories/. Accessed May 1, 2016. 4. For teens with cystic fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website. https://www.cff.org/PDF-Archive/Nutrition-for-Teens/. Accessed May 1, 2016.
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