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COPD: 11 Foods to Avoid Weight Loss

If you have COPD, your calorie requirements may be higher than you think. Here are 11 feel-better foods and beverages that are rich in calories and nutrients.

If you have COPD, your calorie requirements may be higher than you think.  A person with COPD can burn 10 times as many calories breathing as a healthy person. 

Your body uses food as fuel for energy and all its bodily functions, including breathing.  Eating a healthy high-calorie diet won't cure COPD, but it will help you maintain or gain weight if you’re underweight. And it can help you feel better, breathe easier, fight infections, and boost your energy level. If you need to lose weight, keep in mind that these foods may be too high in calories for you.

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To start, follow these two general tips:

  • Eat four to six small meals throughout the day to help pack more nutrients and calories into smaller, easy-to-tolerate meals.
  • Take small bites, and eat slowly to help prevent tiring before you finish your meal. 

Here are 11 feel-better foods and beverages that are rich in calories and nutrients, and are easy to chew and prepare. 

  1. Dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium, protein, and many other nutrients.  Add cheese to eggs, sandwiches, casseroles, and soups. Yogurt is a great snack topped with granola and fruit.  Drink milk instead of water for extra nourishment.
  2. Proteinpowder can add a much-needed nutritional boost to foods.  Add nonfat dry milk powder, protein, or soy protein powder to mashed potatoes, soups, hot cereals, or casseroles.  Or drink a Carnation Instant Breakfast made with whole milk for a beverage or snack. 
  3. Starchy vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals and have more calories than most vegetables.  Choose potatoes, corn, beets, peas, carrot, beans or winter squash. Soups are an excellent way to enjoy starchy vegetables and supplement calories.  Try super nutritious split pea, lentil, black bean chili, or chicken and rice soups.
  4. High-calorie fruits canned in heavy syrup, frozen in simple sauces, dried, or 100% fruit juice are best but any fresh fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. Fruits highest in calories include bananas, mango, papaya, dried fruits, and juices. 
  5. Trail mix combines healthy dried fruits, nuts, and other sweet or savory ingredients for easy snacks to go or to keep on the counter for quick snacks. Don’t waste your time eating empty calorie snacks like cakes, cookies, or candies.
  6. Shakes and smoothies are a wonderful way to concentrate calories into a nutritious beverage, rich in calcium, protein, and more. Make your shakes or smoothies with frozen fruit, 100% fruit juice, protein powder, yogurt, or ice cream for easy-to-tolerate snacks.
  7. Comfort foods remind us of heart-warming childhood memories. Popular favorites include mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, apple pie, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken and dumplings, tomato soup, and more. These foods are exactly what the doctor ordered to add calories to your diet and put a smile on your face.
  8. Healthy fats are twice as dense as carbohydrates and protein and usually well tolerated by people with COPD. Olive, canola, safflower or corn oils, margarine free of trans fats, mayonnaise, and avocados are among the best healthy fats. Liberally add healthy fats wherever you can to boost flavor and calories in meals. 
  9. Nutritious desserts like creamy rich puddings, vanilla custard, fruit crisps, quick breads, and strawberry shortcake are just a few desserts that are nutritious and delicious.
  10. Hearty whole grains are easy-to-chew high fiber foods. Make your oatmeal or favorite hot cereal with whole milk instead of water for an extra calcium and calorie boost. Other healthy grains include granola, muesli, whole grain breads, pasta, cereals, and crackers.
  11. Protein-rich foods can be lacking in some diets. Be sure to include a good source of protein at every meal. Good sources include peanut butter, eggs, lean meat, fish, poultry, beans, or nuts. Spread peanut butter or any nut butter on hearty whole grain breads, crackers, or muffins for a high-protein, healthy fat snack.

And don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Fluid helps keep mucus thin for easier removal.  During meals, drink your water or beverage at the end of a meal so it won’t fill you up.

Reviewed on June 11, 2012
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