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Chyle is a milky looking fluid that contains lymphatic fluid and fat. It is formed in the small intestine during digestion. Chyle is carried around the body by the lymphatic vessels of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system carries fluid, fats, protein, and cells that fight infection around the body. A leak in the lymphatic system can occur after surgery, this is called a chyle leak.
Diet to Help Heal the Leak
If you follow a very low fat or fat free diet, it can help heal a chyle leak. When you eat less fat, the body makes less chyle. This decreases the amount of chyle that can leak into the body. This can help the leak to heal.
Limit your fat intake to no more than 25 grams per day. Do this by eating only fat free or very low-fat foods and drinks.
The small amount of fat that is in your diet should be spread throughout the day. Do not eat all that fat at one meal.
Read food labels to check the fat content of food items.
Protein intake is very important. You may need to use nutritional supplement drinks or protein powders to meet your protein needs.
Talk with your doctor or dietitian about taking a daily multivitamin with minerals while you are on this diet.
This diet is meant only for short-term use and shouldn’t be followed for longer than 3 weeks.
Foods to Eat
Fresh or canned fruits
Plain fresh or frozen vegetables
Potatoes & sweet potatoes without added fat
Fat free breads, bagels, and crackers
Fat free cereals (no nuts)
Fat free pasta and rice
Air popped popcorn
Fat free muffins
Skim milk, skim milk powder
Fat free cheese and cottage cheese
Fat free sour cream and cream cheese
Fat free yogurt and frozen yogurt
Meats and Meat Substitutes
Fat free lunch meat/deli meat
Fat free hot dogs
Fat free egg substitute or Egg Beaters®, egg whites
Fat free veggie burgers
White poultry meat without the skin and trimmed of any fat
Lean fish such as cod, perch, halibut, tilapia
Beans (black, pinto, kidney, white, lima) and lentils prepared without added fat
Fat free refried beans
Fat free salad dressings and mayo
Ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard, soy sauce, and hot sauce
Fat free salsa, relish
Fat free broth
Soups made with fat free broth, skim milk, or evaporated skim milk
Fat free creamers
Fat free whipping cream/Cool Whip®
Decaf or regular coffee or tea
Juice or lemonade
Sports drinks such as Powerade® or Gatorade®
Carnation® Breakfast Essentials powder mixed with skim milk
Whey protein powders
Fat free pudding
Nonfat frozen yogurt
Fat free sherbet or ice cream
Fat free desserts
Foods not to Eat
Canned pie fillings
Vegetables in sauce made with butter, cream, or cheese
Vegetables canned in oil
Breads or cereals that contain fat
Bread or cereals with added fat such as cream, butter, peanut butter
Microwave or stovetop popcorn made with oil
Low-fat or full fat dairy products
Creamers that contain fat
Meats and Meat Substitutes
Nuts and seeds
Peanut butter or other kinds of nut butter
Fatty fish such as salmon
Dark poultry meat
Fatty cuts of meat
Low fat or regular mayo and salad dressings
Butter, margarine, cream
Specialty coffee drinks
Tea or coffee with cream
Shakes or smoothies that contain fat Nutrition Drinks
Carnation® Breakfast Essentials Ready to drink drinks
Generic or store brand nutrition supplement drinks
Cookies, cake, pie, doughnuts
Ice cream, frozen yogurt
Who to Call
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions, please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below. Or visit our website at: www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH): (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF): (608) 287-2770.
If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.