Did you know that your weight and the foods you eat are directly related to the amount of energy you have? That's why good nutrition is a must, especially when you have COPD. But, the shortness of breath that often accompanies COPD can sometimes interfere with your body's ability to get the right amount of nutrition. The following tips include ways to manage your COPD nutrition while keeping you healthy and full of energy:
Eating Healthy with the Basic Food Groups
A balanced diet is one that includes foods from the basic food groups. Be sure to include the following in your daily diet:
- Protein helps to build muscle mass and maintain growth and repair of cells and tissues. Foods from this group include meats, soy products, nuts, seeds and legumes, like black beans or lentils.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, cream and yogurt are rich in calcium to keep bones and teeth strong and healthy. They are a good source of protein too.
- Fruits and vegetables are filled with vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to maintain wellness. Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is recommended for optimal health and disease prevention.
- Breads and starches contain complex carbohydrates that help our bodies sustain energy. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal or grits are also high in fiber.
- Fats are sometimes thought to impact our waistlines in a negative way when, in fact, they are a necessary part of any healthy diet (when used in moderation). Mono-unsaturated fats, such as extra virgin olive oil and canola oil, and poly-unsaturated fats such as corn and sunflower oil, are better for you than saturated fats, which are found in lard, hard margarine, cheese, bakery goods and animal meats.
- Fluids help keep you hydrated and assist in thinning out mucus. Drink 8, eight-ounce glasses a day, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Additionally, check out these 6 COPD Super Foods and include them on your shopping list for maximum health benefit.
What About Vitamins and Other Supplements?
In a perfect world, we would get all the vitamins and minerals we need from the foods we eat. When your diet is somehow lacking in nutrients, however, this isn't possible. Taking a multi-vitamin every day is recommended to help you get the nutrients that you may not be getting from your diet. And, because COPD sometimes leaves you feeling too tired to eat, drinking a meal supplement can support your nutritional status without causing you to feel too full.
When You're Having Trouble Eating
Because the stomach lies directly beneath the diaphragm, having a full stomach can make it more difficult to breath, especially for those with COPD. Shortness of breath while eating is one of the reasons why people with COPD often suffer from malnutrition, a common complication of COPD. The following may help:
Why Your Weight Is Important
When you are underweight, your energy level can suffer dramatically. This can make it more difficult to complete activities of daily living and leave you more susceptible to infection and COPD exacerbation. On the contrary, being overweight can also negatively impact COPD, as it can increase your shortness of breath and lead to obesity. The best thing for anyone who has COPD is to maintain a healthy body weight, which can be determined by your doctor. Weighing yourself on a regular basis can help you accomplish this. Try these tips for weighing yourself:
- Weigh yourself at the same time every morning before eating and after using the restroom. Try to wear the same clothing each time you weigh.
- Keep track of your weight on a separate piece of paper that is kept on the wall or near the scale. Doing this can help you see possible fluctuations in your weight over time.
- Call your doctor if you notice that you are either steadily losing weight without trying to do so, or if you gain three to five pounds in one week or less.
For more information on COPD and nutrition, read:
Living Well with Chronic Lung Disease: A Guide to Puomonary Rehabilitation. The StayWell Company. 2005.