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Cirrhosis of the Liver Community
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Weight gain diet cirrhosis

Initially, they put me on a low sodium diet. It turned out that I usually don't consume a lot of sodium in general. The diet wasn't and issue for me.

When this started, I began losing weight. Unbeknownst to me, ascites was creeping in and destroyed my appetite. I lost a lot of weight in my arms, legs, butt, bust, face, all but the ascites filled belly. I had the fluid drained when I went in-patient. I was falling down, weak, frail, and confused. I entered the hospital at 135lbs and left at 100lbs. Shockingly thin. I'm 5'6".

My diet was changed to a high calorie/high protein diet. I was basically told to eat anything and everything as much as possible. I was also put on fluid restriction (boo!).  My blood work regularly shows below normal sodium levels. This diet is totally contrary to how I have eaten my whole life. I want to see some flesh on these bones.

Has anyone been told that they need to gain weight? If so, how did you do it? Do you have any tips or tricks?

I'm honestly sick of food and dream about large glasses of iced tea. I still follow the rules though.
4 Responses
446474 tn?1446347682
COMMUNITY LEADER
A high calorie/high protein diet is a standard diet for people suffering from the anorexia of advanced cirrhosis when the liver is no longer able to properly metabolize foods.Those with advanced cirrhosis typically have abnormal nutrient and caloric intake, decreased intestinal absorption, and metabolic disturbances. This leads frequently to anorexia and early satiety, which contribute to decreased food intake leading to malnutrition. Without enough protein to maintain muscle mass the body muscle wastes away to skin and bone with the resulting emaciated body and the huge belly of ascitic fluid. Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass. Myself and many of my transplant friends have lived on Ensure and other protein drinks when we were so ill we couldn't eat anything else. Of course a healthy balanced diet is best, but when all else fails, you can always get down a protein drink.

Malnutrition is almost universally present in patients with ESLD (End-Stage Liver Disease) waiting liver transplantation and has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality.  Losing too much weight is dangerous to a person's overall health!

Nutrition is an integral part of maintaining one's health as the liver fails and one is more in need of a transplant. The liver is the largest and the most important organ for metabolizing food our carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins.

You should make an appointment with a dietitian in the liver transplant department (they specialize in diets for transplant patients understanding the restrictions most patient have in order to manage the complications of cirrhosis such as ascites, HE etc.) to learn how to maintain your health until you can get a liver transplant. Those who go into their transplant healthier typically how smoother and quicker recoveries. Of course those who become too ill with complications will have to have their condition stabilized before they can survive the transplant surgery.

Contact your liver transplant and let them know we want to learn about maintaining your health with a proper diet. They can best specialist the diet to your individual needs. They can provide you with lots of options so you can stay as healthy as you given the circumstances. One you get a transplant and a new healthy liver the weigh will come back and usually then more than enough.

Be well.
Hector
Avatar universal
Why must all supplement drinks be so sweet and always chocolate flavored? Ick. I'll drink it if I have to. I like Carnation Breakfast Essentials. Doesn't pack as much of a punch, but adds a lot to the nutrition party. It was recommended by the dietitians because ensure grossed me out at a certain point. A break from it was really needed. Fluid restrictions and supplement drinks also pose a challenge. It takes up a lot of my allowed volume. I can control the fluids in the Carnation product.

Transplant has been brought up, but my current doctors are telling me that I'm still too healthy and I need to gain ~25lbs for them to feel ok with even considering it. Thus, I have no transplant team at the moment. I was just running graphs of my blood work and it looks like I'm getting closer and closer to normal. I am being treated at one of the hospitals that has what is considered the gold standard in liver treatment and transplantation. I have talked to several nutritionists, but not a dietitian that specializes in transplant patients.  I'll ask my doctors about that. It's been hard to gauge weight loss or gain because of the ascites.

I'm also a vegetarian. That's another layer of challenge. I've started trying to eat some sort of animal product (those things closer to being slugs or bugs and may or may not have an exoskeleton).
Avatar universal
We need 50-80 grams of protein a day. Check non animal foods that contain protein. If I have more than a 4 oz. piece of chicken per day (or even every other day) I get a protein overload and feel sick however, it's important to overall health and muscle mass as stated above. I drink straight up cranberry juice for iron and vitamin C which is need for absorption. (no sugar or chemicals in it) It's very tricky to keep the protein intake steady. Like you, I only have so much room in my stomach so I have to choose wisely. I was like you describe and it scared me. Total wasting was not something I could imagine for myself. What a shock. It takes time to build it all back up. Good Luck. Let us know how it's going. Grazing is good too if you can manage it.
Avatar universal
I would like to know if the food change has worked for you to gain weight-my husband is in stage 2 ,is skin and bones but eats all the time!we are devasted he has this disease as he contracted hepatitis C  from a blood transfusion in the Vietnam War when he was severely wounded -
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