HF 536

Nutrition Guidelines for Chyle Leak (25 Grams Fat per Day)

Chyle Leak

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.

Diet Guidelines

  • 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

  • Dried fruits

  • Fruit juice

  • Jelly/jams/fruit spreads


  • Plain fresh or frozen vegetables

  • Canned vegetables

  • Vegetable juice

  • Pickles

  • 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

  • Syrup


  • 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

  • Water

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Juice or lemonade

  • Sports drinks such as Powerade® or Gatorade®

Nutrition Drinks

  • Carnation® Breakfast Essentials powder mixed with skim milk

  • Ensure Clear®

  • Resource® Breeze

  • Whey protein powders


  • Fat free pudding

  • Popsicles

  • Nonfat frozen yogurt

  • Fat free sherbet or ice cream

  • Fat free desserts

  • Gelatin

Foods not to Eat


  • Canned pie fillings

  • Coconut

  • Avocado


  • Olives

  • 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

  • Whole eggs

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Peanut butter or other kinds of nut butter

  • Soybeans/edamame

  • Fatty fish such as salmon

  • Dark poultry meat

  • Fatty cuts of meat


  • Low fat or regular mayo and salad dressings


  • Cream soups


  • Butter, margarine, cream

  • Lard

  • Vegetable oils


  • Specialty coffee drinks

  • Tea or coffee with cream

  • Shakes or smoothies that contain fat Nutrition Drinks

  • Ensure®

  • Glucerna®

  • Boost®

  • Carnation® Breakfast Essentials Ready to drink drinks

  • Generic or store brand nutrition supplement drinks


  • Chocolate

  • Pudding

  • Cookies, cake, pie, doughnuts

  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt

  • Milkshakes

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.