HIV and AIDS – Nutrition and Exercise When You Have HIV
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Good nutrition and exercise can improve your health and slow down your HIV infection.
What problems could make it hard for me to eat a healthy diet?
You might have trouble eating if you have sores in your mouth, diarrhea, nausea or just a poor appetite. If you have trouble eating or exercising, contact your healthcare provider.
What are some good tips for eating right?
A few simple steps can help you make sure your food is healthy and safe:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before you eat so you won’t get an infection from germs on your hands.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them or cook them.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after you touch raw fish, chicken or meat to help prevent infection.
- Be sure that meat, eggs and fish are well cooked before you eat them.
Here are some ways to add nutrition to your diet:
- Drink 8 to 10 glasses of filtered water each day.
- Keep nutritious snacks on hand, such as nuts and carrot sticks.
- Eat high-calorie foods if you’re losing weight.
- Contact your healthcare provider if you lose 5 pounds (2 kg) or more when you didn’t intend to.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about taking a multivitamin every day. Take your multivitamin with a meal to help prevent an upset stomach.
What can I do if I’m having trouble eating?
- If you don’t have an appetite — Try to eat your favorite foods. Instead of eating 3 big meals each day, eat 6 to 8 small meals.
- If you have diarrhea –Don’t eat fried foods and other high-fat foods like potato chips. Also avoid high-fibre foods. Instead, eat bland foods such as bread, rice and applesauce. Ask your healthcare provider about taking nutritional supplements, such as Ensure.
- If you have mouth sores –Avoid citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit. Avoid very hot or cold foods. Don’t eat spicy foods. Try not to eat hard foods like chips and pretzels. Use a straw to drink liquids.
- If you have nausea and vomiting –Avoid drinking any liquid with your meals. Eat 6 to 8 small meals each day instead of 3 large meals. Eat foods with a mild flavor. Eat foods at a medium temperature, not too hot or cold. Drink nutritional supplements and sports drinks. Sit and relax for 30 minutes after you eat.
How can I increase my strength?
Aerobic exercise such as walking will help make you stronger. It’s good to begin exercising slowly. Little by little, increase the amount of time that you walk. For example, you might start walking for 20 minutes 3 times a week. Then, after you get a little stronger, you can increase the walking time to 30 minutes 4 times a week. Contact your healthcare provider before you start.
Weight lifting is also a good way to increase your strength. Start by trying to do a weight lifting exercise with a weight light enough that you can lift it 10 times. Lifting it once is called a “repetition.” More than one repetition is called a “set.” Try to do 2 sets of 10 repetitions. Rest for 90 seconds between each set.
You don’t need to have fancy exercise equipment to do weight lifting. You can use soup or juice cans, books and other objects you have in the house. Start by lifting a weight that’s comfortable for you and doesn’t cause too much strain.
In the first week, do 1 or 2 different weight lifting exercises for each body part once or twice in the week. Start with a small weight in each hand, like 10 to 15 ounces (283 to 425 g) (a can of soup or a can of beans), depending on the exercise. Each week increase the number of exercises you do and the number of times you exercise. Rest for 1 to 2 days between exercise sessions. When you’re feeling sick, either exercise less or stop for a while.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Nova Scotia Government Website
Public Health Agency of Canada
Evaluation and Treatment of Weight Loss in Adults with HIV Disease by B Williams, M.D., M.P.H, D Waters, Ph.D. and K Parker, M.S., R.D. (09/01/99, http://www.aafp.org/afp/990901ap/843.html)