Practical Chronic Hepatitis Snacking Tips
As one of our body’s most precious and important centers of activity, the first four letters of the word liver comes as no surprise to those familiar with this organ. Responsible for functions ranging from detoxification to the production of proteins and hormones, the liver is absolutely necessary for our survival. Healthcare practitioners know that conscientious, healthful eating can make a big impact on whether or not the liver is capable of fulfilling its responsibilities.
For those living with chronic hepatitis – a type of illness characterized by relentless inflammation of the liver – good nutrition is especially valuable. Purposefully planning three, daily, healthful meals will benefit those with chronic hepatitis. However, knowing how to choose smart snacks in between those meals provides additional fuel for maintaining a healthy liver.
Very few people subsist on breakfast, lunch and dinner without any in-between reinforcements. Whether craving something in particular, getting through a mid-afternoon slump or grabbing something quick to avoid crankiness, most of us partake in regular snacking. Despite its commonality, some adults underestimate their need and tendency to snack. In doing so, they miss the opportunity to provide their body with high quality snacking fodder. Besides satisfying in-between meal hunger, people with chronic hepatitis have four additional reasons to snack healthfully:
- Nausea Relief – As a common symptom of chronic hepatitis, nausea can be relieved by eating frequent, smaller meals (or snacks) instead of fewer, larger meals.
- Energy Boost – Fatigue is the most common symptom of chronic hepatitis. Thus, small, energy-boosting snacks can help those with liver inflammation overcome tiredness.
- Limit Inflammation – Fat, sugar and salt are abundant in many convenient foods that most people snack on. Unfortunately, fat (the unhealthy kind), sugar and salt can also exacerbate all types of inflammation. Choosing healthful snacks can prevent resorting to junk foods when hunger strikes – and thus keep liver inflammation to a minimum.
- Squeeze in Nutrients – Some with chronic hepatitis have advanced liver disease. Individuals with this condition must often work hard to achieve sufficient nutritional intake during the day.
According to Debra J. Johnston, RD, registered dietitian and director of nutrition services at Remuda Ranch, a treatment program for eating disorders in Wickenburg, AZ, “You should think of a quick snack as a mini-meal. A healthy snack is a great opportunity to add the fruit, vegetables, fiber, protein and dairy that you need in your diet. Mix your food groups and avoid unhealthy fats to snack smart.”
Healthy Snack Suggestions
More than grabbing a quick bite, snacks are vital to nutrition – particularly for those battling chronic hepatitis. To help prevent unhealthful snacking, the following suggestions can help you snack wisely:
- Trail Mix – Make your own trail mix with raw almonds, chopped walnuts and pistachios without added salt or oil and combine with raisins, dried blueberries or cranberries without added sugar. This snack is packed with essential fatty acids, protein, fiber and antioxidants.
- Crudités and Blanched Vegetables – Keep a container full of raw and blanched, cut-up veggies in your refrigerator for instant snack gratification. Eat blanched green beans, cauliflower or broccoli and raw carrots, bell pepper or cucumber with non-fat, plain yogurt, hummus, guacamole or another tasty, healthful dip.
- Popcorn – Air pop your own and spray it with olive oil instead of butter and flavor with Brewer’s yeast (an excellent source of B vitamins, protein and minerals) instead of salt. Popcorn is loaded with fiber and especially tasty and nutritious with the olive oil/Brewer’s yeast combo described above.
- Smoothie – Particularly satisfying in hotter months, make a smoothie by pulverizing ice, fresh fruit, non-fat, plain yogurt and whey in a blender. This delicious drinkable snack is great for battling chronic hepatitis with an abundance of protein, fiber and antioxidants.
- Sandwich or Wrap – Construct this snack with a high-fiber bread, pita or tortilla, use lean meat such as turkey or chicken, a slice of low-fat cheese, mustard for flavor and lettuce, tomato, onion, sprouts, avocado or other veggies to finish it off. A well-constructed sandwich or wrap provides protein, fiber and antioxidants. In addition, mustard seeds are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Whether your snacking preferences lean toward savory or sweet, there are plenty of satisfying snack choices that favor your liver’s health. Between relieving hepatitis symptoms to supporting the liver’s well-being, there are very good reasons to use snacks as a major source of nutrition. Because anyone with chronic hepatitis has a lot to gain from a consistent, nutritionally fortified diet, keeping your refrigerator stocked with ingredients for the healthy snacks listed above should be part of every liver health plan.
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