Nutrition and Eating Problems
Being infected with HIV can make it hard for you to eat sometimes. You may be unable to digest certain foods that you used to eat all the time. The medicines you take may make you feel sick to your stomach. You may have infections in your mouth which hurt when you swallow. You may just feel too tired to eat. And you may worry a lot because you know you should eat, no matter how you feel! The good news is that there are certain foods that can help you feel better when you are having these problems.
Help for Specific Problems
Some of the eating tips that are given for
certain problems may conflict with tips that are given for other
problems. For example, a tip for gaining weight is to put gravy,
butter or creamy sauces on your food. If you have diarrhea,
however, the gravy, butter or sauce could make that problem
If you are having more than one of the individual problems listed below, be sure to read the information in all of the sections that apply. Avoid eating foods which either section tells you might be harmful. Your doctor or dietitian can also help you sort out the differences.
How Your Doctor Can Help
You are not alone in your struggle to eat right. Talk to your doctor. There are medicines that could help you with nausea, dry mouth, painful swallowing and other problems related to eating. There may be times when you will be unable to eat or drink anything at all. At these times it may be necessary for your doctor to arrange for you to be fed by tube or intravenously till you get your strength back.
If you would like to speak with someone about food or your meals in more detail, ask you doctor. He/she can refer you to a registered dietitian in your community. They are trained health professionals who are experts at food and good eating habits. There is a lot of misinformation about nutrition and HIV/AIDS. People working in health food shops, for example, are often not professionals. The advice they may give is often not based on scientific facts and could be harmful. If you have heard something about nutrition and HIV, check it out with your doctor or dietitian first before trying it.
Adapted from Tennessee Department of Health, 1/00
Last reviewed January 2000 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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