Healthy Eating Tips for People with COPD
Nutrition and COPD
Although weight loss sounds like a good thing, it’s not—if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This lung condition, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, can cause severe weight and muscle loss. About one in four people with COPD are too thin.
Eat more protein
In general, eating more protein and getting more calorieswhile still keeping an eye on nutritionis a good way to combat weight loss. Try these tips to help keep the weight on.
Eat Healthy Fats
"You’re adding more flavor but adding a compact source of calories that’s very efficiently metabolized, so it helps the effort of breathing."
Green Beans With Citrus Vinaigrette
Goldilox Scrambled Eggs
Pick lean meat
Sirloin Tips With Vegetables
Consume more nuts
Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken and Peanuts
Eat dessert first
"It's less easy to eat when you are having trouble breathing," says Dr. Gerbstadt. Put some joy into eating by indulging in a little dessert. Ice cream, puddings, custards, and cakes are often made with eggs, which are a great way to bulk up on fat and protein.
"Cheese certainly is a concentrated source of calories," says Dr. Gerbstadt, “but dairy fat isn't necessarily the best thing for [COPD patients'] arteries."
Nuts and vegetable oils are a better source of fat, but there’s no reason to avoid some dairy.
Cheesy Squash Casserole
Try a nutritional shake or smoothie
Make it simple
In general, the simpler the meal prep, the better. Pick foods that don’t take a lot of work and that can be used in numerous recipes.
Store some leftovers to cut down on prep time, too.
Take your meds
Eating can increase the body's demand for oxygen, so you'll need it.
"Lying down just compromises breathing more," says Dr. Edelman, because it places extra pressure on the lungs.
Eat smaller meals, more often
Plus, a full belly can press back against the diaphragm, making breathing harder.
Get the nutrients and fuel you need in smaller doses by spreading your day's eating out over six small meals.
Eat your biggest meal early
The food will give you energy for the rest of the day, and you won’t have to expend extra energy to eat a larger meal at the end of the day when you are already tired.
Don't skip breakfast
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day for a reasonyou need that early meal to fuel the rest of your day.
Take a short nap or rest before eating; it may help.
Don’t drink while eating
“We want to get food in; we don’t want patients to fill up their stomachwhich has a limited capacitywith liquid,” says Dr. Edelman.
It’s not a bad idea to get your liquids from nutritional supplement shakes consumed between meals, he adds.
Ban the bloat
The pressure on your lower belly from both will make breathing more difficult, so eat only small amounts of these and other gas-forming foods.
The best trick? Put your spoon or fork down between each bite.
"It's a matter of being slow and deliberate," says Dr. Edelman. “Take some food, chew it, swallow it, then rest, then breathe, then take some food again."
Get some variety
Foods high in antioxidantslike berries and nutsmay be especially helpful, says Dr. Edelman; a limited amount of research suggests these foods may be beneficial to lung health.
Cut down on salt
Plenty of natural herbs and spices add flavor to your food without upping the sodium content.
If you are buying packaged or pre-made foods, look for low-sodium options.
Consume calories wisely
Junk food isn’t giving you the nutrients you need, so stay away from salty and fatty snacks, candy, and sugary soft drinks.
Also, pick foods that are relatively easy to chew, and avoid anything too difficult to digest, says Dr. Edelman.