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COPD and Weight Loss: Improving Your Appetite


Many people who have had COPD for a long time feel constantly weak. This fatigue may be due to retaining too much CO2. Or it may be from not getting enough oxygen. Not eating enough can also cause fatigue. When tired, most people say they do not feel like making food or eating. If this is true for you, try to cook foods in large amounts during your "up" times. Freeze it in single portions for serving later. These homemade "TV dinners" can be more nutritious than the store ones. And they may have less sodium.

To Reduce Fatigue

  • Ask your community agencies or senior citizen centers if they provide low cost nutritious meals.
    Check out "Meals on Wheels" (
  • Eat six small meals instead of three big ones. Digestion requires energy. And that in turn requires oxygen. So if you eat small meals it will use less oxygen.
  • Eat larger meals earlier in the day. Try making a simple breakfast the night before so it is ready to eat with little thought or work in the morning.
  • Rest before eating. Avoid lying down after meals.
  • Use recipes that are easy to make.
  • Ask relatives or close friends to assist with making meals.
  • Don''t assume that eating extra carbohydrates will give you energy. Simple carbohydrates (sweets, cookies, cakes, pies) can lead to excess total calories. This may cause increased carbon dioxide retention. Simple carbohydrates do supply many calories. However, they have few, if any, of the other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.


Do you often feel bloated? Swallowing air, not drinking enough fluids and the lack of good exercise are common causes of bloating. To avoid bloating, try not to rush through your meals. Do not eat when you are short of breath. This may cause you to swallow air and make bloating worse. Constipation and/or poor intestinal function are other common causes of bloating. Include plenty of fiber and fluid in your diet. This will aid digestion and intestinal function.

Fiber is the carbohydrate part of the plant that human digestive enzymes cannot break down. Dietary fibers are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes (beans) and whole grains. There are two basic types of fiber. These are water-soluble and water-insoluble. Water-soluble fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, oats, barley and beans. These dissolve in water to form a gel in the gastrointestinal tract. They are known to have a cholesterol lowering effect. Water-insoluble fibers are found in products like whole grains. They help to maintain bowel function.

Fiber is Important for COPD Patients

Fiber helps to maintain normal bowel function and prevent constipation. For COPD patients, it is especially important to avoid constipation. It can cause bloating and pressure in the space below the diaphragm. This prevents the diaphragm from moving as far down as normal. So the lungs are not able to fill to their normal amount. This causes more shortness of breath. A high fiber diet also may help to prevent diverticulosis and obesity. (Diverticulosis is a condition when pouches or sacs develop in the intestine.)

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