Positive Living: Looking After Yourself (cont.)

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.

Vegetables are a wonderful source of fiber and vitamins. Melting cheese on top of broccoli or other vegetables not only adds some zip, but gives you extra protein, too. Carrots and celery are a great snack and, like fruit, can be carried with you almost anywhere for when you get the urge to eat. They provide lots of fiber but almost no calories. Salads can be very tasty; just add cheese or cooked beans, tuna or hard-boiled eggs. All of these things not only make your vegetables more exciting, but they boost the protein, and our main goal is to keep body weight stable. Potatoes are another wonderful vegetable option. Mashed potatoes are great with extra cheese and milk added in. Try new kinds of potatoes, like sweet potatoes or yams. When it comes to variety in your diet, more is better.

Meats and Beans

Meat and vegetarian substitutes provide your body with the energy that it needs. Additionally, red meat, fish and poultry are excellent sources of iron, which may prevent anemia, especially in women.

Two or three servings a day of extra-lean beef, fish, seafood, poultry, cheese or beans will give your body a lot of protein and vitamins and minerals. One serving is three ounces of meat, seafood, fish or poultry (about the size of a deck of playing cards); two eggs or two ounces of cheese; one cup of dried beans, peas or nuts, or four tablespoons of peanut butter. If you don't eat meat, it will be important that you increase your protein intake by eating more tofu, nuts, eggs and beans. If you have any questions about whether you're getting enough protein, be sure to ask your health care provider or dietician.


Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium and protein. Two or three servings a day of milk or other dairy products provides minerals and protein. One serving is a cup of milk, one-and-one-half ounces of cheese, or two cups of yogurt, cottage cheese or ice cream.

Dairy products can be added to many foods. Use milk to make your favorite puddings. Use milk instead of water to make hot chocolate. Add extra cheese to pizzas. Mix ice cream with milk and maybe some fruit for a terrific milkshake. Add canned milk or dried milk to mashed potatoes, cornbread or pancakes for an extra dose of protein. And remember that chocolate milk gives you just as much protein as regular milk.

Some people do not tolerate lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products, and HIV can also increase a person's lactose intolerance. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas pain, diarrhea or cramping after eating or drinking a dairy product. If you think dairy products may be the source of some physical problems, juggle your diet around a bit, reduce your dairy intake and see if this helps. You can also buy milk with reduced lactose in many grocery stores.


A general rule to follow is to limit fat intake to less than 30% of your total diet. A low fat diet is not necessarily advocated, but keep in mind there is good fat and there is bad fat. Limit your intake of saturated fats and eat in moderation those foods containing essential fatty acids, like those found in fish, avocados and nuts.


Water is essential for your body. It's important to drink at least eight glasses a day. It's also important that the water be safe. Some opportunistic infections, such as cryptosporidiosis, can be contracted from bad water. Drinking untreated water from streams or lakes is dangerous for everyone. Most areas in the US do not have contaminated water supplies, but it still would be safest to drink treated water, especially if you have a low CD4 cell count. The best option is to boil tap water for 1 full minute. Another more expensive option is to filter your water with a filter that attaches to your faucet or under your sink. Make sure the filter is capable of removing particles less than 1 micron in size. The best filters in this category produce water by reverse osmosis, are labeled as "Absolute" 1 micron filters, or are labeled as meeting the ANSI/NSF International standard #53 for "cyst removal." Watch for these descriptions on filtered water and filtering products. Use disposable gloves when changing the filter cartridges. Bottled water is another option, if purified by distillation or reverse osmosis.

Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements

Many people take vitamins. Though it is recommended that you first try to get your nutritional needs met with a well balanced diet, there are times when vitamins are needed to "fill the gap." Do not take the attitude "if one vitamin is good, then two or three would be even better." Having too much of some vitamins can harm your health. The current recommendation is to take one or two multi-vitamins per day with less than 10-mg. iron. Be sure to tell your health care provider about your current vitamin intake.