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Nutrition Tips for People Living With AIDS
Good nutrition is essential for people who have
AIDS or are HIV-positive. Eating enough of the right types of foods
may help prevent weight loss and fatigue, improve comfort and sense
of well-being, and contribute to the quality of life. Timing is
equally important. The sooner good nutrition begins, the better
off people are, so forming good eating habits early may help you
to feel better, look better, and stay healthier longer. A registered
dietitian (RD) can be very helpful in teaching you how to make
nutritious food choices.
If you are living with AIDS, you are encouraged
to eat a balanced diet high in protein and calories because your
immune system needs both to work optimally. A balanced diet is
based on a selection of foods from the USDA Food Guide Pyramid
food groups. The Food Guide Pyramid helps one choose foods to eat
each day. This insures that all of the essential nutrients needed
are met to maintain health and weight. Nutrients that are important
for health include water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals,
and vitamins. To prioritize the basic components of a healthful
diet, eat the majority of your food from the pyramid sections with
the largest surface area, from the bottom of the pyramid up.
The Food Guide Pyramid in conjunction with the
following guidelines can help you pick healthful food choices.
General nutrition guidelines consist of:
- Eating a variety of foods from each of the Food Guide Pyramid
- Eating a variety of protein-rich foods and carbohydrate-rich
foods at each meal.
- Eating small, frequent meals. Try to eat four or more times
- Drinking adequate fluids. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses
of water a day.
- Exercising 3 to 5 times a week for 20 minutes or longer.
Your particular nutritional needs will also depend
on your current condition of health. Most people who are living
with AIDS or are HIV-positive need extra protein and calories everyday.
Protein can come from eggs, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes,
and dairy products. Eggs are a good source of protein and are a
nutrient-rich food as they provide 13 different vitamins and minerals
in varying amounts. In addition they are affordable, easy to prepare,
and soft to chew.
Everyday you need to eat:
and Sweets Group Use sparingly
Yogurt, and Cheese Group 2-3 servings; 1 cup of
milk is a serving
Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Group
6-11 servings; 1 slice bread is a serving
|Meat, Poultry, Fish,
Bean Group 2-3 servings; 2 to 3
ounces of cooked meat is a serving
|Vegetable Group 3-5
servings; 1 cup of raw vegetables is a serving
|Fruit Group 2-4 servings;
1 medium-sized apple is a serving
DIETARY CHANGES FOR CONTROLLING PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS
- Take advantage of the already pared meals and or frozen foods
that are available at grocery stores.
- Accept offers of help with meal preparation from friends and
- Check into home food-delivery services that are available.
- Prepare extra portions when feeling well and freeze for later
use when tired.
- Wait until feeling better to eat full meals. Eat frequent small
meals rather than large ones.
- Sip cold beverages such as fruit juices, and eat fruit ices
popsicles, or dry toast to calm your stomach.
- Choose bland foods such as soup with crackers or hard-cooked
eggs with dry toast, or gelatin with fruit.
WHEN YOU HAVE DIARRHEA
- Drink plenty of fluids to replace lost fluids and minerals.
- Choose foods and drinks that contain little or no fat or lactose
- Avoid foods that have a laxative effect such as prunes and
prune juice. These foods could make diarrhea worse.
- Avoid greasy, spicy, or deep fried foods. These could increase
WHEN MOUTH AND THROAT ARE SORE
- Drink soothing beverages such as apple juice, and milk (if
diarrhea is not a problem). Carbonated drinks or liquids containing
salt, such as vegetable juice or broth may irritate the mouth.
Highly acidic beverages such as orange juice may be painful.
And, highly spiced foods may also be irritating to a sore mouth
- Soft, moist foods, such as scrambled eggs, canned fruit, macaroni
and cheese and other casseroles are easy to swallow when mouth
and throat are sore.
- Avoid sticky, hard-to-swallow foods such as peanut butter and
dry abrasive foods that can cause mouth soreness.
IF SENSE OF TASTE CHANGES
- If certain types of meats become bitter, select protein alternatives
such as cheese, eggs, poultry, tuna, peanut butter, yogurt, and
- Serve protein foods cold or at room temperature. Perishable
foods should not be left out for more than two hours.
WAYS TO INCREASE PROTEIN AND CALORIES
- Add cheese to your meals. Add extra melted cheese, grated cheese,
or sour cream to scrambled eggs and omelets, salads, soups, mashed
potatoes, and pastas.
- Use heavy cream, whole milk, or evaporated whole milk instead
of water when cooking.
- Make snacks out of high protein foods like pizza, custards
and puddings, crackers and peanut butter, hard-cooked eggs, and
- Drink whole milk with all meals. Whole milk adds more protein
and calories than coffee, tea, or water. Add powdered whole milk
to regular whole milk to increase its food value.
- Blend finely chopped hard-cooked eggs into sauces, soups, and
Food safety is important for all people, but especially
critical for people with AIDS who have weakened immune systems.
In order to minimize or even eliminate the possibility of contracting
food-borne infections people living with AIDS need to learn how
to shop, prepare, store, and cook food properly. When in doubt,
throw it out! For more food safety food tips see your doctor or