Dietary Guide­lines for Use of Corticosteroids

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Dietary Guide­lines for use of Cor­ti­cos­teroids (Decadron, Solu-​Cortef, Solu-​Medrol, Prednisone)

Why is this med­ica­tion prescribed?

Cor­ti­cos­teroids are sim­i­lar to a nat­ural hor­mone pro­duced by the adrenal glands. A cor­ti­cos­teroid may be pre­scribed for you to reduce inflam­ma­tion (swelling, heat, red­ness, and pain). While on this med­ica­tion, your doc­tor should mon­i­tor your blood sugar, blood pres­sure and weight. You should also be pre­scribed med­ica­tion to pro­tect (coat) your stomach.


Use of cor­ti­cos­teroids can lead to hyper­glycemia (an increase in the level of blood sugar). Some signs of hyper­glycemia are:

  • You feel drowsy
  • You feel very tired or lack energy
  • You have a dry mouth and feel extremely thirsty
  • You need to uri­nate often

If you are expe­ri­enc­ing any of these symp­toms and they per­sist, tell your doctor.

For per­son­al­ized rec­om­men­da­tions, ask to meet with a dietitian.

Pos­si­ble side-​effects of Corticosteroids

Rec­om­mended changes in your diet to reduce these side effects

You may have an increase in your blood sugar
Eat less of the foods that are high in con­cen­trated sweets. Foods that are high in con­cen­trated sweets:
Sugar, maple syrup, icing, car­bon­ated drinks, can­dies, pas­tries, cakes, cook­ies, jams, jel­lies, gum, sher­bet, ice cream, popsicles
You may have swelling and an increase in blood pres­sure due to fluid and salt retention Eat less of the foods that are high in salt (sodium).

Do not add salt at the table.
Foods that are high in salt (sodium):
Processed meats (ham, bacon, smoked meat); flavoured salts and sea­son­ings with sodium; salted crack­ers, nuts, chips and pret­zels; salted fish; pick­les; con­cen­trated chicken and beef broth (Bovril, Oxo); soya sauce; Worces­ter­shire sauce; canned soups and sauces
You may have a loss of potas­sium in your blood Eat more of the foods that are high in potassium Foods that are high in potas­sium:
Dried fruit in lim­ited amounts, bananas, avo­cado, oranges and other fresh fruits; pota­toes, spinach, arti­chokes, beet greens, broc­coli, brus­sel sprouts; sar­dines, scal­lops and trout; wheat germ, whole grained breads and cere­als; cocoa and choco­late (70% cocoa and over)
Your bones may become weak due to a reduc­tion in your body’s abil­ity to absorb cal­cium (Osteoporosis) Eat more of the foods that are high in calcium. Foods that are high in cal­cium:
Milk, cheese, yogurt; sar­dines with bones; legumes, nuts and seeds; dark, leafy veg­eta­bles like bok choy, col­lard greens and broc­coli; enriched soya drink
You may have a loss of pro­tein from your mus­cle tissue Eat more of the foods that are high in protein. Foods that are high in pro­tein:
Meat, fish, seafood and poul­try; cheese and eggs; legumes; tofu
You may have an increase in your blood cho­les­terol and triglyc­erides

You may be hun­grier than nor­mal and gain weight
Lower the fat and cho­les­terol in your diet. Try to lower your calories.
  • Avoid fried foods. Instead, you should bake, grill or poach.
  • Trim the fat off meat before cooking.
  • Choose leaner cuts of meat.
  • Eat red meat only three times a week. Eat more fish or poultry.
  • Choose 1 % or skim milk instead of 3.5%
  • Choose low fat cheese (15% or less m.f.) and yogurt (l% or less m.f.)
  • Avoid but­ter, cream and rich sauces.

Lacong A., Ruel D. & Tessier V. (2000). Drugs-​nutrients : An inter­ac­tion guide.
Pow­ers D. & Moore A. (2000). Food-​Medication Inter­ac­tions, 11th Ed.
Zeman F.J, (1991). Clin­i­cal Nutri­tion and Dietet­ics, 2nd Ed.

Infor­ma­tion about InfoNEURO
Neuro-​Patient Resource Cen­tre
Mon­treal Neu­ro­log­i­cal Hosp­tial Room 354
Tel: (514) 3985358
E-​mail: infoneuro@​muhc.​mcgill.​ca
Web site: http://​infoneuro​.mcgill​.ca/

This infor­ma­tion is for edu­ca­tional pur­poses only, and is not intended to replace the advice of a pro­fes­sional health­care prac­ti­tioner, or to sub­sti­tute for med­ical care.

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Pre­pared by: Carmela Mal­oney, Reviewed by the dieti­tians from the Dia­betic Task Force ©2004.
Mon­treal Neu­ro­log­i­cal Insti­tute and Hos­pi­tal
McGill Uni­ver­sity Health Cen­tre

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