Planning your diet menu for fatty liver
In part 2 of NAFLD Nutrition, we put together a diet menu for fatty liver disease. First, it is important to know the best types of foods to consume on a regular basis. With that, understanding which foods to limit will also help you plan your weekly menus.
Sometimes meal planning can be a mystery even after you have knowledge of the most nutritious foods. It isn’t uncommon to feel overwhelmed at this point. This article provides 10 days’ worth of meals to give you a jump start on your diet menu for fatty liver. We also added helpful tips and suggestions along the way!
Best foods to include in a diet menu for fatty liver
The optimal menu plan would consist of whole grains, high fiber starches, lean proteins and/or plant proteins, low-fat/fat-free dairy, non-starchy vegetables (the more, the better!), and healthy fats. If you do not eat a particular food, don’t fret! You can easily make tweaks to a meal to suit your needs.
Check out NAFLD Nutrition Part 1 here for more information on the best food choices for managing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- 3 scrambled egg whites, ¼ cup reduced/low-fat shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and onions, 1 slice whole wheat bread, 1 teaspoon of butter or butter substitute (LFD Favorite: Smart Balance®)
- 2 slices whole grain toast, 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter, ½ sliced banana on top
- 1 cup Cheerios with 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, 8 ounces low-fat milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk
- ½ cup cooked oatmeal with 1 ounce walnuts or pecans and 1 small apple, diced
- 1 slice multigrain toast with 1/3 avocado (sliced or mashed), sliced tomato, and 1 egg (hard-boiled or over-medium) on top
- 1 mini whole wheat bagel, 1 tablespoon reduced-fat/fat-free cream cheese, ½ cup of berries on the side
- 6 ounces low-fat, lower-sugar Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons low-fat granola, ½ cup fresh blueberries (layer ingredients to make a parfait!)
- Breakfast sandwich – 2 slices rye toast, 1 scrambled egg, 1 slice low-fat cheddar cheese, 2 slices turkey bacon
- 1 egg + 1 egg white with fresh spinach mixed in, 1 multigrain English muffin, 1 teaspoon butter or butter substitute
- 2 small whole grain pancakes, 4″ diameter each (LFD Favorite: Bob’s Red Mill® Organic 7 Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix) ½ cup blueberries, 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey, 2 scrambled egg whites on the side
- Chicken wrap – 1 medium whole wheat tortilla, 3 ounces grilled chicken, shredded carrots, cucumbers, 1 tablespoon ginger dressing
- Whole grain Sandwich Thin® with chicken salad, handful of grapes on the side
- Avocado BLT – 2 slices whole grain bread, 2-3 slices turkey bacon, sliced tomato, romaine lettuce, 4 avocado slices, 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 1 cup low-sodium broth-based soup (homemade is best!), grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat roll, lettuce, tomato, 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1 small whole wheat pita, egg salad (made with 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise, diced celery), and romaine lettuce; baby carrots or sliced cucumbers on the side
- Cut out the inside of a tomato and stuff with tuna salad (made with 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise, diced celery, diced onion), 5 Triscuits or other whole grain crackers on the side
- 1/2 turkey sandwich (1 slice rye bread, 3 slices low-fat/low-sodium turkey, lettuce, tomato, 2 teaspoons honey mustard), 1/2 cup mixed berries, 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
- 1-2 small slices of vegetable pizza (try whole wheat crust or a tomato pie), side salad with 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic dressing
- Grilled cheese (2 slices whole wheat bread, 2 pieces low-fat cheese, 1 teaspoon butter or butter substitute) with sliced tomato and 1 cup of low-sodium vegetable soup
- 2-3 ounces chicken, 3/4 cup cooked quinoa, diced tomato and asparagus with garlic, 1 cup cantaloupe on the side
- 1 whole wheat flatbread, ¼ cup part-skim shredded mozzarella, sliced tomato, zucchini
- 4 ounces salmon with 1 teaspoon olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice drizzled on top, 3/4 cup wild rice, asparagus on the side
- 3 ounces grilled chicken, 1/2 cup brown rice, 1/2 cup pinto beans, 1/2-1 cup cooked peppers and onions
- Homemade turkey burger on multigrain bun, lettuce/tomato/onion, 1/2 cup fruit on the side
- Spring mix salad with 3 ounces sliced chicken, 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, 1 small apple, diced, 1/4 cup low-fat/fat-free feta cheese, 2 tablespoons vinaigrette/olive oil based dressing
- 2 small whole wheat soft taco shells, 3 ounces lean ground chicken or ½ cup black beans with ¼ cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, 1/3 of an avocado, sliced
- 3 ounces thin pork chops, small sweet potato with 1 teaspoon of butter or butter substitute (sprinkle with cinnamon for extra flavor!), ¾ cup steamed broccoli
- 3 ounces lean ground beef, ¾ cup cooked whole grain spaghetti, ½ cup homemade tomato sauce or store-bought sauce without added sugar, side salad with 2 tablespoons oil and vinegar salad dressing
- 4 ounces steamed shrimp, 3/4 cup brown rice, ½ cup steamed Asian blend vegetables, 1 tablespoon stirfry sauce (LFD Favorite: Kikkoman® Stirfry Sauce – No Preservatives Added)
- 3 ounces grilled chicken, 1 small baked potato, 1 tablespoon light sour cream, sprinkle of shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup steamed California blend vegetables
Grab a nutritious snack, too!
- Apple with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
- 3 cups air-popped or low-fat popcorn, 1 ounce unsalted nuts
- Fresh vegetables (sliced peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, or carrot sticks) with 2 tablespoons hummus
- 1/2 cup low-fat/low-sodium cottage cheese with 1/2-3/4 cup of fruit (pineapple, peaches, and berries are great options!)
- 5 whole wheat crackers with 1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese or 1 Laughing Cow cheese wedge, and sliced cucumber on top
- 2 full graham crackers or 1 brown rice cake with 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1/2 sandwich (1 slice of whole grain bread, 2 ounces canned tuna, 2 teaspoons light mayonnaise, diced celery)
- Frozen Greek yogurt bar – (LFD Favorite: Yasso® yogurt bars)
- 1/2 large or 1 small banana, sliced, 2 tablespoons dark chocolate hummus for dipping
- 2 tablespoons dried fruit (raisins, berries), 1 ounce unsalted almonds
Shopping tips to build a healthy menu
When food shopping for breads, look for options with at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.
If you are making oatmeal, choose steel-cut or rolled oats. Instant will work in a pinch, though. It is best to avoid the flavored packets and instead use fruit, cinnamon, and/or other add-ins to flavor the food.
Don’t like cooking rice? Try frozen options of brown or wild rice that can be easily prepared in the microwave.
Fruits and vegetables
Pick fruit cups or canned fruit that have natural juice or water in them. This will ensure there is no added sugar mixed in.
Grab some frozen steamed vegetable bags for a quick side dish. Try to get plain varieties and season them on your own rather than the vegetables with cheese and sauces (this increases fat and/or sodium content).
Dairy products and non-dairy milk
Overwhelmed by all the Greek yogurt options? Let us help you narrow it down. Look for low-fat options that do not have a lot of added sugars. Chobani® Less Sugar is a good go-to choice without artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes. Two Good™ and Oikos® Triple Zero are other low-sugar options; Stevia is added for sweetness.
Using 1% or skim milk will help reduce saturated fat intake. Non-dairy milk varieties are healthy options, too. Drinking the unsweetened kind helps to reduce added sugar consumption in the diet.
Look for low-fat or fat-free cheeses. If you cannot find these for a certain type, a reduced-fat option will also help cut back on saturated and overall fat.
Proteins and healthy fats
When using ground beef in a recipe, select the leanest variety (the higher the percentage lean, the better). Not a beef eater or want to cut back? Try ground turkey or chicken as healthy alternatives.
Avoid fried options and grill, bake, roast, and steam protein foods instead.
If you want to eyeball portions, the palm of your hand is a good measure for meat or poultry. A serving of fish is equal to a deck of cards.
Snacking on some nuts or using peanut butter? You can count out the nuts in a serving or ballpark it by taking a small handful. A serving size of peanut butter is 1-2 tablespoons. Your thumb can be used for reference. The tip is roughly equal to 1 tablespoon, and the whole thumb would be comparable to 2 tablespoons.
Reading nutrition labels is another way to determine which foods should be included at meals. Learn more about Percent Daily Value here…this is a method you can use to analyze a variety of nutrients.
Mix up the diet menu for fatty liver…and enjoy!
The best thing about this diet menu is that you can mix and match meals. While it has 10 days of ideas, changing things up can provide you with a plan for weeks at a time. Additionally, you can swap different side dishes for increased variety. Heck, let’s get real crafty and use different flavors, too!
Remember, this is a guide, and the best way to follow it is to adjust it to your liking. Happy planning and happy eating!