Nutritional Considerations While on Corticosteroids

Article Highlights:
by Margaret Wahl on May 1, 2007 - 2:07pm

QUEST Vol. 14, No. 3

Side effects of prednisone and other corticosteroids include increased appetite and weight gain, as well as osteoporosis (porous and weakened bones). Appropriate nutritional supplements while being treated with prednisone include calcium and Vitamin D.

Meal planning suggestions

Weight gain is a side effect of prednisone regardless of how much a person eats. However, since many people on prednisone also have an increased appetite, they may gain additional weight from overeating. This weight gain may result in further difficulties with mobility.

Therefore, recommendations for individuals taking prednisone suggest following a healthy eating plan to maintain your weight, avoiding excess weight gain, and avoiding high blood sugar. It may be helpful to develop an eating schedule, so that you won’t overeat from becoming excessively hungry.

One of the culprits in this weight gain is fat. Fat is a concentrated source of calories and can add unwanted pounds quickly. Therefore, your intake of fat should be limited (to less than 30 percent of total calories consumed).

Furthermore, if you’re watching your weight, you’ll want to limit your intake of sugar. Sugar and concentrated sweets are usually high in calories and low in vitamins and minerals.

Low-fat, low-sugar foods

Breads:
  • whole wheat breads, long grain rice, whole wheat tortillas, pita bread
  • carrot/bran muffin, wheat English muffin, wheat crackers
  • granola bars without frosting, rice or corn cereal without sugar
  • fiber cereals, grain cereals without frosting
Meats:
  • lean turkey, fish, chicken, beef, pork, tuna in water, eggs (no more than 3 per week). These should be steamed, baked, broiled, grilled, not fried.
Dairy:
  • skim or 1 percent milk, low fat or nonfat cheese, ice milk, low fat frozen yogurt, lite cream cheese
Vegetables:
  • all fresh or frozen that are unbreaded, including starchy vegetables, such as peas, lima beans, corn, squash, lentils, beans
  • vegetable soups
Fruit:
  • all fresh or frozen fruits
  • Limit fruit juice to less than 4 ounces per day.
Fat:
  • low calorie salad dressing, lite mayo
  • Limit to three teaspoons of added fat per day.

Healthy, low-calorie snacks

To decrease the hunger urge, consider between-meal snacks with low-calorie, higher-fiber snack foods.

  • raw veggies
  • fresh fruit
  • canned fruit
  • dry cereal
  • low fat crackers
  • lite popcorn
  • pretzels
  • lite yogurt
  • graham crackers
  • open-face sandwich
  • animal crackers
  • ginger snaps
  • fat-free pudding
  • fruit juice Popsicle
  • wheat tortilla
  • cheese

Calorie-free foods

  • broth
  • club soda/soda water
  • tea
  • coffee
  • chicory and grain coffee substitute (Postum)
  • diet drinks
  • sugar-free Kool-Aid
  • sugar-free Jell-O
  • pickles
  • unsweetened cranberries
  • celery
  • unsweetened rhubarb
  • sugar-free Popsicles

Calcium and vitamin D

Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake may decrease the possibility of developing osteoporosis. Since many calcium-containing foods are dairy-based, dairy foods chosen should be low in fat, to avoid excessive calorie intake.

To ensure adequate intake of both calcium and vitamin D, a vitamin supplement may best meet your needs.

Low-fat foods high in calcium and vitamin D

  • milk
  • yogurt
  • ice cream
  • cheese
  • tofu
  • cooked soybeans
  • boiled white beans
  • salmon
  • sardines
  • corn tortillas
  • almonds
  • broccoli
  • calcium-fortified juice
  • calcium-fortified bread
  • calcium-fortified soy milk
  • calcium-fortified health bars
  • calcium-fortified cereal
  • Instant Breakfast

Calcium requirements by age

mg = milligrams

Age Calcium Requirements
0-6 months 210 mg
7-12 months 270 mg
1-3 years 500 mg
4-8 years 800 mg
9-13 years 1,300 mg
14-18 years 1,300 mg
19-30 years 1,000 mg

Adapted from material of the Children’s Clinic for Rehabilitative Services, Tucson, Ariz., 2006.

Daily meal plan

DAY 1 2 3
BREAKFAST 1/2 c unsweet cereal
1/2 banana
1% milk
1/2 bagel with jelly
mixed fruit
1/2 c yogurt or 1% milk
English muffin
4 oz Jc
Jelly
1% milk
LUNCH Ham sandwich
8 crackers
Frt cup 1/2 c
Water
Turkey sandwich
Carrot sticks
apple 1
Water
1 c Soup
Salad
8 crackers
Water
SNACK Diet Drink
1 small Tortilla
1 TB peanut
1 sl cheese
Diet Drink
1/2 c Cereal
Butter and
4 crax
Diet Drink
Sugar Free/
3 oz 1% milk
DINNER

Chick breast
1/2 c Rice
Salad/lite
dressing
Water or
4 oz 1% Milk
Flavored water

Steak
1/2 c Potato
Green Beans

Water or
4 oz 1% Milk
Flavored water

1 sl meatloaf
1/2 corn
Carrots
1/2 c Beans
Water or
4 oz 1% Milk
Flavored water

SNACK Fruit/Diet Jell-O Fruit/Diet Jell-O Fruit/Diet Jell-O

Daily Meal Plan continued

DAY 4 5 6 7
BFAST 1/2 c oatmeal
1 toast
1 fruit
1% milk
1 small muffin
Fresh fruit
1/2 LF Cott cheese 4 oz jc
Pancake 2
Low sugar syrup
1% milk
Eggs (2)
Turkey bacon
1 toast
jelly
LUNCH PB & J sandwich
pretzels
1% Milk 8 oz
1 sl Pizza
Salad
Diet Drink
Lite Salad dress
Roast Beef Swch
fresh veggies
Diet Drink
Lite Salad Dress
1 Lean Pocket
Banana
Diet Drink
SNACK Diet Drink
1 oz Cheetos
Low Fat Pudding
Diet Drink
1 Gogurt
Diet Drink
1 cheese stick
Diet Drink
DINNER

1 c Chili
Crackers
Salad/lite
dressing
Water or
4 oz 1% Milk
Flavored Water

Pork Chop
1/2 c Potato
Salad/lite
dressing
Water or
4 oz 1% Milk
Flavored Water

Cheeseburger
5 wedge fries
Salad/lite
dressing
Water or
4 oz 1% Milk
Flavored Water

1 Taco
1/2 c Rice +
1/2 c Beans
lettuce, tomato
onion
Water or
4 oz 1% Milk
Flavored Water
SNACK Fruit/Diet Jell-O Fruit/Diet Jell-O Fruit/Diet Jell-O Fruit/Diet Jell-O

Daily Meal Plan continued

DAY 8 9 10 11
BFAST 1/2 c unsweet cereal
1/2 banana
1% milk
1/2 bagel w/ jelly
mixed fruit
1/2 c yogurt or
1% milk
English muffin
4 oz Jc
Jelly
1% milk
1/2 c oatmeal
1 toast
1 fruit
1% milk
LUNCH 1 burrito
Salad
Lite Dressing
Diet Drink
Water
1 chzburger
lettuce/tomato
Grapes
Diet Drink
Water
Turkey sdwch
Carrots
gram crax
Diet Drink
Water
Ham Sdwch
Fruit
Carrots
Diet Drink
Water
SNACK Diet Drink
Popcorn
1 Tortilla
Diet Drink
1/2 cereal
W/ cheese
Diet Drink
Pretzels
3 oz 1% milk
Diet Drink
1 oz Cheetos
DINNER

1 c Spaghetti
3 meatballs
Salad
Lite Dressing
Diet drink, water
or 4 oz 1% Milk

1/2 C Mac n Chz
3 oz Meat
Mixed Veggies
Fruit
Diet Drink or
Water

Baked chicken
1/2 c Rice
Salad
Lite Dressing
Diet Drink or
Water

1 C Beef Stir Fry
1/2 C Rice
Broccoli
Fruit
Diet Drink or
Water
SNACK Diet Jell-O Diet Jell-O Diet Jell-O Diet Jell-O


Daily Meal Plan continued

DAY 12 13 14
BREAKFAST 1 small muffin
Fresh fruit
1/2 LF Cott cheese
4 oz jc
Pancake 2
Low sugar syrup
1% milk
Eggs (2)
Turkey bacon
1 toast, jelly
4 oz 1% milk
LUNCH

PB & J
8 crax
apple
Diet Drink
Water

Quesadilla
salsa
Fruit
Diet Drink
Water
Hot Dog
Pretzels
Fruit
Diet Drink
Water
SNACK Diet Drink
Diet Pudding 1/2 c
Diet Drink
1 Gogurt
Diet Drink
DINNER

1 Tostado
1/2 c Rice
Lettuce, Tomato

Diet Drink or
Water

1 sl Pizza
Salad
Lite dressing
Fruit
Diet Drink or
Water

4 oz Turkey
1/2 c Mashed Potato
Steamed Vegetable
Fruit
Diet Drink or
Water

SNACK Diet Jell-O Diet Jell-O Diet Jell-O

Source: Children’s Clinic for Rehabilitative Services, Tucson, Ariz., 2006.

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