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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
- 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
- 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.
- skim or 1 percent milk, low fat or nonfat cheese, ice milk, low fat frozen yogurt, lite cream cheese
- all fresh or frozen that are unbreaded, including starchy vegetables, such as peas, lima beans, corn, squash, lentils, beans
- vegetable soups
- all fresh or frozen fruits
- Limit fruit juice to less than 4 ounces per day.
- 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
- lite yogurt
- graham crackers
- open-face sandwich
- animal crackers
- ginger snaps
- fat-free pudding
- fruit juice Popsicle
- wheat tortilla
- club soda/soda water
- chicory and grain coffee substitute (Postum)
- diet drinks
- sugar-free Kool-Aid
- sugar-free Jell-O
- unsweetened cranberries
- 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
- ice cream
- cooked soybeans
- boiled white beans
- corn tortillas
- 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 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 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 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.