If you've recently been diagnosed with COPD, your doctor may have suggested that you try to eat a healthier diet. You might have been referred to a registered dietitian, who can help you create a meal plan that will serve you best. Of course, you'll still need to take your medications as prescribed, as changing your diet won't cure your COPD. However, healthy eating will give you more energy, improve your immune system and much more.
It's worth it to change your diet if it helps you feel better all around. Some foods are ideal for people with COPD. Below are some snacks ideas, and easy, healthy meals for people with lung disease.
Balance is Key
Your body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals found in different foods. You have to include all of them to maintain balance, so your body can get everything it needs.
Carbohydrates: Although carbs should be eaten in moderation, they aren't all bad. Think whole grains and complex carbohydrates: whole-grain bread, brown rice, bran, quinoa, oats and beans. They contain plenty of fiber and provide long-lasting energy.
Lean Protein: These include lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. When eating fish, steer toward the fatty fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel. They contain an essential building block for our bodies: omega-3 fatty acids.
Potassium-Rich: These foods are especially helpful if you're taking a diuretic medication. Think bananas, beets, potatoes and sweet potatoes, asparagus, oranges, avocados and dark leafy greens.
Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh is best, especially ones low in sugar and packed with vitamins, fiber, minerals, and protein.
Foods to Avoid
Try to minimize foods that cause bloating, gas, contain too many saturated fats, or ones that just contain too many empty calories
Many people find it hard to cut down on sodium because many processed foods and restaurant foods already contain high amounts. Too much sodium can be harmful because it causes water retention and bloating, which can make breathing more difficult. Check the labels on food, and avoid foods with more than 300 to 600 milligrams.
The fruits you should try to avoid for the most part are apples, apricots, melons, and peaches. These fruits contain more sugar than others, and can cause gas or bloating. If you find that these fruits don't cause you any gastro-intestinal issues, ask your doctor if you can include them in your diet.
The same goes for fruit, only there are many more vegetables that are known to cause bloating, which is not only uncomfortable but pushes up against the lungs and makes it harder to breathe. If you are aware that something causes bloating for you, steer clear of it. The list vegetables that are known to cause bloating includes brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, leeks, corn, onions, peppers, scallions and peas.
Deep fried and greasy foods are a culprit for gas and bloating, and usually contain high amounts of sodium.
Dairy has been known to cause added congestion and thicker phlegm. If it doesn't cause any ill effects for you, it's safe to say you can continue eating them. Keep in mind that dairy can also contain high amounts of sodium (particularly cheese) and can be high in fat.
Chocolate contains caffeine and sugar. Talk to your doctor to make sure caffeine won't adversely affect any medications that you're taking.
What To Drink
Try to stick to the standard 6 to 8 glasses of water/fluids a day, or as close as possible. Caffeinated beverages don't count because caffeine acts as a diuretic. You can also include low-sugar natural juices in your 6 to 8 glasses of fluids.
You may also need to cut out alcohol, especially if it can adversely affect your medication. It can also contribute to more mucus and slow down breathing, as it is a depressant. Ask your doctor if you should avoid alcohol all together, or if you can drink it in moderation.
If you have a heart condition, talk to your doctor about how much fluid you should be drinking. It may be necessary for you to avoid drinking this much fluid.
Maintaining A Healthy Weight
COPD can cause you to be underweight or overweight. Those with chronic bronchitis have a tendency to gain more weight, while those with emphysema have a hard time gaining enough weight to stay healthy. This is another reason why proper individual nutrition is important for people with COPD.
If you need to gain more weight, you should try to eat more eggs, oats, beans, low-sodium cheese, full-fat milk, avocados, almonds and almond butter or peanut butter (low-sodium) and granola.
If losing weight is necessary for your health, talk to your doctor or a dietitian to come up with a good diet plan. You might also be recommended an exercise routine. Also talk to your doctor before starting an exercise regime.
Eating 5 or 6 small meals a day is better than trying to eat 3 larger meals a day.
You can eat a slightly larger meal early in the day, because it will give you energy throughout the day.
Conserve your energy by sitting down to prepare meals, and get help if you can. Choose foods that are easy to prepare. You can also look into ordering a home grocery delivery service.
Make some meals in bulk, put them in individual packages and freeze them for quick easy meals later in the week or month.