Positive Living: Looking After Yourself (cont.)

Fighting HIV Symptoms with Food


Diarrhea is a fairly common problem, and becomes even more so with HIV disease. If you have chronic diarrhea, it's even more important that you get good nutrition and liquids into your body. Check with your health care provider to see if any parasites or your medications may be causing the diarrhea. Here are some nutrition suggestions for helping to reduce diarrhea:

  • Avoid high fiber foods such as raw vegetables, fresh fruits, dried beans, and bread, cereal or pasta made from whole grain because they will make your stools looser. Eating white bread, white rice and pasta is helpful because they are processed and they will stay with you better. Potatoes, applesauce, canned fruits, cooked cereals, melons and skinless fruits are all good options. Avoid prunes or any other fruit with seeds.
  • Avoid hot spices - peppers, chili powder or Tabasco can make diarrhea worse.
  • Try to stay away from foods that cause gas, such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, green peppers and onions.
  • Avoid citrus fruits and try to drink fruit nectars, such as apricot, instead.
  • Switch to decaffeinated drinks. Caffeine will make food and water go through your system faster.
  • If you are at all lactose intolerant, you will probably be experiencing a lot of bloating, gas and cramping. You might try a lactose reduction aid like Lactaid, or stay away from dairy products until the diarrhea passes.
  • Sometimes greasy or fried foods, butter and oils can cause diarrhea. There are now a lot of fat free foods on the market you may want to try.

Diarrhea causes dehydration so drink lots of fluids. Try to drink eight or more glasses of juice or calorie-rich liquids each day. Water is best. Severe diarrhea can cause a lack of protein. Check with your health care provider to make sure that you are getting enough protein in your diet.


For most people, feeling sick and throwing up is related to infection, stress, medication or medical treatment. If nausea lasts for more than two days, call your health care provider. Here are some tips for dealing with nausea:

  • Drink clear and cool beverages; sip them slowly using a straw.
  • Eat small amounts of food many times during the day - a few mouthfuls
  • Eat bland foods such as potatoes, rice, bread, noodles and fruit. It's good to go by the "BRAT" formula: bananas, rice, applesauce and dry toast.
  • Avoid skipping meals - an empty stomach will make you feel sicker.
  • Avoid fried or greasy foods, very sweet foods, spicy foods, and strong-smelling food.
  • Do not lie down for at least one hour after eating.

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