Nutrition and HIV/AIDS
Nutrition and HIV: Coping with Special Problems
Your body may have a variety of responses to HIV and you may also experience side effects from medications. Here are tips for dealing with some of the most common problems.
Nausea and vomiting
- Try bland, low-fat foods, such as plain pasta, canned fruit, or plain broth
- Eat smaller meals every one to two hours.
- Avoid greasy or spicy foods, or foods with strong odors.
- Drink ginger tea or ginger ale.
- Eat more cold foods and fewer hot foods.
- Rest between meals, but don't lie flat.
- Ask your doctor about nausea medications.
- Drink more fluids than usual. Try diluted juices or Gatorade.
- Limit milk and sugary or caffeinated drinks.
- Eat slowly and more frequently.
- Avoid greasy foods.
- Try the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) for a brief time.
- Instead of fresh produce, try well-cooked vegetables or canned ones.
- Try calcium carbonate supplements or fiber supplements like Metamucil wafers.
Lack of appetite
- Exercise to help stimulate your appetite.
- Don't drink too much right before meals.
- Eat with family or friends, making meals as attractive as possible.
- Try smaller, more frequent meals.
- Include a variety of textures, shapes, and colors.
- Ask your doctor about medications that stimulate appetite.
Too much weight loss
- Include more protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet.
- Use cream or half and half on cereals. Add ice cream to desserts.
- Eat dried fruits or nuts for snacks.
- Talk to your doctor about adding a nutrition supplement, such as Boost, Ensure, or Carnation Instant Breakfast.
- Ask your doctor about medications that stimulate appetite and treat nausea.
Mouth and swallowing problems
- Eat soft foods such as yogurt or mashed potatoes.
- Avoid raw vegetables; cook them instead.
- Choose softer fruits, such as bananas or pears.
- Stay away from acidic foods, such as oranges, lemons, and tomatoes.
- See your doctor to make sure you do not have an opportunistic infection or need more diagnostic testing.
Lipodystrophy (fat redistribution syndrome)
- Limit fat, especially saturated and trans fats.
- Choose unsaturated fats and sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna.
- Limit alcohol, and refined sugars.
- Prevent insulin resistance by limiting foods that raise glucose and insulin levels: primarily carbohydrates.
- Eat more fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.