Diet and nutrition basics

After your transplant, it is important to try to eat a healthy diet. Some ways to help you do this are described below. Talk to your doctor and dietitian/nutritionist before making any changes to your diet. They will be able to help and advise you on the best plan for you.

Remember that this nutrition advice is only a guide. Your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist are the best sources of information, in collaboration with your transplant team.

Remember to consult your transplant team before making any changes to your diet.

  • 1 Try to spread your calories evenly over 3 meals. None of your meals should be so large that you feel too full when you have finished. You should feel nicely satisfied.

    2 Try to avoid skipping a meal in order to save your calories for later. Doing so may make it more likely that you will overeat at your next meal.

    3 Aim for a balanced plate, with each meal containing a protein, a fiber (such as a fruit or vegetable), and a whole grain.

    4 Be mindful of your serving sizes. Restaurant portions tend to be larger than the “normal” serving size. Eating more calories than your body requires may cause you to gain weight.

    5 Try to gain your calories from food rather than from beverages, as some beverages may contain a lot of calories. In most cases it is better to eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. Fruits also contain more fiber than their juice alternative. Unless specified by your transplant team, you should drink water to quench your thirst.

  • 6 Try to include fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar and salt into your diet. Consider non-fat or low-fat dairy products.

    7 Opt for lean cuts of meat. For example, choose ground turkey breast instead of ground beef.

    8 Saturated fats and trans fats can be reduced by choosing liquid oils instead of solid fats. Aim to reduce your intake of pastries and bakery products and look for foods prepared without hydrogenated vegetable oils.

    9 Breads with visible grains of a darker color often have healthy unrefined whole grains, higher fiber content, and richer flavor.

    10 Try to decrease your intake of drinks and foods that contain added sugars. These include soda, jam, honey, candy, gelatin, cookies, cakes, and pies.

  • 11 You can lower your salt intake by comparing sodium levels on packages and adding flavor to food with herbs and spices instead of salt.

    12 Using vegetable protein from sources such as split peas, lentils, and kidney beans is a healthy choice.

    13 Remove visible fat and skin from poultry before eating.

    14 Microwave, broil, grill, or steam foods. Try cooking with non-stick cooking spray and utensils.

    15 Add color to your plate with fruits and vegetables.

  • 16 Adding more nuts to your diet is a good idea. Many nuts contain healthy oils and vitamins.

    17 Adding low-calorie snacks between meals may curb your hunger and stabilize your blood sugar. This may also help you eat less at the next meal.

    18 It’s a good idea to eat snacks that contain a source of protein and fiber.

    19 Try decreasing your serving size. “Low-fat” or “low-calorie” on a food label does not mean that you can eat more than you normally would.

    20 It takes about 15 minutes before your brain knows that you are full, so try to eat slowly and take the time to enjoy your food.

  • Nutrition labels may help you when you are buying food
  • Consider asking your transplant team if a dietitian or nutritionist is available to help you to plan your meals

Diet and nutrition advice according to the Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/departments-centers/transplant-center/liver-transplant/living-after/diet-nutrition; United Network for Organ Sharing, www.transplantliving.org/after-the-transplant/staying-healthy/diet-and-exercise/; and the American Society of Transplantation, www.healthytransplant.com/health_maintenance/health_after_transplantation.aspx; all accessed October 14, 2014.