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Low-fat diet before ECP


Your child needs to eat a low-fat diet the day before an ECP (extracorporeal photopheresis) procedure and on the day of the ECP. Following this diet is important because eating a high-fat meal can keep the ECP machine from working properly. If your child is on TPN (total parenteral nutrition) with lipids, the medical team will stop the lipids at least one (1) day before ECP.

Have your child follow the diet below before the ECP procedure. Your child’s doctor or nurse will tell you when it is OK to stop the low-fat diet.

Foods to eat

Your child may eat these foods the day before ECP and the day of treatment.

  • Low-fat dairy foods, such as skim or 1% milk, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt, and egg whites.
  • Lean meats, such as chicken or turkey breast without the skin, lean beef, and lean pork. Your child may also eat lean fish, such as whitefish, if it is not fried. Remove all visible fat or skin from meat.
  • Any fruits and vegetables that are not fried or coated in chocolate.

Foods to avoid

Your child should not eat the foods below on the day before ECP or the day of treatment.

  • High-fat dairy foods, including regular cheese, cream, ice cream, whole milk, 2% milk, sour cream, egg yolks, and butter.
  • High-fat meats, including regular ground beef, meat with a lot of visible fat, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, spareribs, liver and other organ meats, many lunch meats, and the skin of chicken and turkey.
  • Fried foods, including fried chicken, fried fish, burgers, French fries, onion rings, and most fast foods.
  • Baked goods and snack foods, including cookies, cakes, pies, donuts, muffins, potato chips, snack crackers, and popcorn unless it is air popped.
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts, including walnuts, cashews, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and nut butters.
  • Regular mayonnaise, gravy, heavy cream sauces, or regular salad dressings.

How to make low-fat meals

The tips below will help you make low-fat meals. Use these tips when you cook the “Foods to eat” for your child from the list above.

  • Trim all visible fat from meat and remove the skin before cooking.
  • Bake foods instead of frying.
  • Bake, broil, or grill meats in a way that allows fat to drip away from meat.
  • Use low-fat or non-fat yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • Use low-fat dressing with salads, and consider putting dressing on the side.
  • Choose fruit, angel food cake, nonfat frozen yogurt, sherbet, or sorbet for dessert instead of ice cream, cake, or pie.


If you have questions about a low-fat diet, please talk to a St. Jude dietitian.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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