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Meal Planning for COPD Patients

By Caring.com Staff
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Keeping Weight On

If the person in your care has difficulty eating it is vital that you pack in all the nutrients you can at each meal. The increased work of breathing that is associated with severe lung disease uses up energy and burns precious calories. The struggle to breathe may make the task of eating a large meal too difficult. Yet it is very important that these individuals get enough to eat as being underweight is harmful to their survival. At this point, weight loss is associated with the loss of both muscle and fat.

Eating small meals more often is the best choice for those with chronic lung disease, especially those with COPD. Aside from the issues just mentioned, the overinflated lung, common to COPD, presses down on the abdomen making the person feel full when he is not. These people need to eat meals more often or at least have nutritious snacks between meals to keep their energy up. A well-balanced diet is important for everyone, especially those who have to make the most of their meals. Remember: carbohydrates (pasta, bread, potato) give energy, protein (meat, poultry, eggs, nuts) helps to build the body's cells, and fats (butter, oil, dairy products) have more calories. Meal supplement drinks can be helpful but they are expensive. The person in your care should have high-calorie drinks like milkshakes rather than water, tea, or coffee as liquids tend to be filling without giving the calories needed for weight gain.

Taking Weight Off

Just as being underweight is a problem for those with lung disease, for the best health outcome it is important not to be overweight. Extra pounds only make moving and breathing more difficult. A good weight-loss plan that includes items from all food groups is recommended for safe and healthy weight loss. It is important that the person in your care cut calories by eating less at each meal and avoiding high-calorie snacks. Weight loss will improve his shortness of breath and decrease his risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.