Medical Nutrition Therapy: Eating Hints for Patients with HIV
Medicines, infections, or HIV itself may cause diarrhea. It can also occur when your body poorly absorbs fats, lactose, sucrose, or protein. When food and liquids pass through the bowel too quickly, you lose calories, water, and other nutrients. If your diarrhea is severe, be sure to call your doctor.
Tips for Dealing with Diarrhea
- Eat warm, but not hot foods and fluids. Heat from hot foods increases movement in the GI tract and may worsen your symptoms.
- Add or take away fiber foods to relieve symptoms. Experiment to see what works best for you. Limit gassy foods such as dried beans, carbonated sodas, cabbage, raw fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Avoid excess sweets and chewing gum (especially sugar-free gum and candies).
- Try eating small, frequent meals. Drink extra fluids often.
- If you notice bloating and cramping, try lactose free, high protein, high calorie feedings such as Ensure®, Boost®, and Resource®. These liquids can be added to puddings or shakes and served on cereals.
- Use lactose free milk products such as Dairy Rich®, Mocha Mix®, Lactaid® or DairyEase®. You could also try soymilk products such as Silk®.
- Try eating bananas, rice, potatoes (boiled or mashed), applesauce and toast.
- Drink plenty of fluids each day such as water, dilute juices, bouillon, and broth soups. Try Pedialyte® or sports drinks to replace sodium and potassium in your body. Drink 8-10 or more glasses of water and other liquids to replace your fluid loss.
- Avoid caffeine. Choose caffeine-free coffee, tea and colas.
- Limit fatty foods and chocolate.
- Check with your doctor to see if a water-soluble fiber like Metamucil® may help.
- Take medicine after meals.
Some people with HIV have trouble breaking down foods that contain fat, lactose, and sucrose. When this happens, the foods are poorly absorbed. As a result, your body does not get enough nutrients. This can occur due to medications and infections.
Tips to Improve Absorption
- Eat foods that are higher in calories and protein. Try foods low in fat and lactose.
- Use lactose free products. Most nutrition supplements, such as Ensure and Boost, are lactose free.
Food Safety at Home
Food poisoning can be devastating to persons with AIDS. Your immune system is weak and cannot fight this illness. Safe handling of foods will help lower your risk.
Tips for Safe Food Handling
- Wash your hands often after using the restroom, after touching garbage, and before touching food. Be sure to also wash them between touching raw and cooked foods.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods. Clean your work surfaces, knives, and cutting boards before using them to serve cooked foods. Bacteria can easily spread from surface to surface.
- Check expiration dates on foods. Do not use if the food is out of date.
- Do not use canned goods that are swollen, dented or damaged.
- Do not eat raw eggs, meat or milk which may contain Salmonella. This includes cookie dough, Caesar salad dressing, meat, fish (sushi) and shellfish. Do not drink raw or unpasteurized milk or milk products.
- Thaw meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Trim fat from meat and skin from poultry and fish. Pesticides can be found in animal fat.
- Cook meats, poultry, eggs and fish well. Do not eat raw meat or fish (sushi).
- Wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully before eating. As a rule, grocers don’t wash products before putting them out on the shelves. Misting keeps produce from drying out, but not clean. To be safe, wash all produce well with large amounts of cold or warm tap water. Scrub with a brush. Do not use soap. Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage.
- Cook hot foods to at least 165°F. Keep cold foods under 40°F.
- Use defrosted foods right away. Do not refreeze.
- Throw out leftovers after 3 days. Do not eat moldy or spoiled foods.
If you have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/02/2013
Copyright © 01/02/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#349
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