Positive Living Series
Understanding and Dealing With Your Medical
nutrition is important for everyone. A balanced diet keeps our bodies strong and
our immune systems healthy,
making it harder for us to get sick. HIV positive people are more
susceptible to infectious agents in food and water, so it is especially
important to follow safe cooking guidelines, drink water that has been purified,
and be careful when dining out. Additionally, it is important for you now
to maintain your body weight and muscle.
Finally, people with illnesses like HIV and cancer often hear and read
about diets which claim to "cure" illness, and though it can be hard
to resist these promises, it is important to avoid being taken advantage
needs can vary when you have HIV so you may want your medical provider to refer
you to a registered dietician who has experience working with HIV positive
people. Changes in your health status may require more (or less) calories
in your diet. Your dietician can help you achieve this with a balanced
diet. In addition, the combination anti-retroviral therapies require a
strict regimen regarding food intake, which can
greatly affect your individual nutritional needs.
The "Eating Right Pyramid" (on the next
page) shows what we've all been taught about the basic food groups,
but in a visual format. The basic message for HIV positive people
is to eat a variety of foods and get regular exercise in order to
maintain a healthy weight while conserving lean body muscle.
Grains and cereal provide a variety of vitamins and
minerals. They also provide some fiber, protein and carbohydrates. Try to get between six and eleven servings per day.
One serving is a slice of bread, a cup of cereal, or a half-cup of
pasta, rice or grits.
oatmeal or grits more interesting add dried fruits, milk, or grated cheese. If
you have a freezer and a toaster, frozen waffles make a great quick meal or
snack. You can always add fruit on top to help boost your daily fruit
intake. Try cold macaroni salad with added vegetables, a chopped
and dressing. All of these combinations boost protein and might help
fight food boredom.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and
fiber, and serve as good cleansers for your intestines. They are full of
water, which can help quench your thirst, and research has suggested that eating
fresh fruits and vegetables may offer some protection against strokes and
cancer. However, cut back on fresh
fruits and vegetables if you are having diarrhea.
A good goal is to eat three to five
servings of fruit and vegetables each day. A serving of fruit
is one piece of raw fruit or a cup of canned fruit; fruit juices are
good for you but they don't count as a serving. One serving of
vegetables is one half cup of cooked or a whole cup of raw vegetables.
Fruit is a perfect snack. You can always
carry a banana, apple, or orange with you for when you get hungry on the
run. Adding raisins to cereal is another way to boost your intake.
Canned fruit is also great because you can get it any time of year.
The nutritional value may be a little lower, but it still counts.
The fruit cocktail "snack packs" in the stores are great things to
keep around or throw in your purse or backpack for when you get a
craving. Boxed fruit juice (100% juice) is another good traveling
companion. In summertime, freezing juice in ice cube trays is a
great way to beat the heat.