Avoiding HIV's Unintentional Weight Loss

HIV Diet: Foods to Boost Protein and Calories

Avoiding HIV's Unintentional Weight Loss

By HIV Connect StaffA Published at November 29, 2012 Views 441 Comments 3 Likes 1

This content was created for the Colorado AIDS Education and Training Center, and is being republished with their permission. Visit the center's website at http://www.coloradoaetc.org/publications.htm for the full guide and related content.

Metabolic changes with HIV can cause unplanned weight loss. While one or two pounds "here and there" does not sound like a lot, over time this can amount to significant loss that may compromise a person’s overall health.

Weight loss of five to 10 percent of your original weight over three to six months (respectively) can be considered "wasting." You should let your doctor know, and consult a dietician if this occurs.

Tips to Regain Lost Weight

• Take advantage of times when you have an appetite. It may only last a short while, so keep nutritious foods handy to snack on.
• Keep a list on the fridge of high calorie, high protein foods you might like. This may help to take the work out of choosing the next snack or meal.
• Make eating an enjoyable experience- put on some music, include your favorite foods, and take your time.
• Drink fluids in between meals to avoid getting full too quickly during mealtimes.
• Grazing is okay! Eating smaller, more frequent meals won’t fill you up as much, and may be easier than trying to fit all your needs into “three square meals.”
• Take a daily multi-vitamin. Research has shown that it can improve weight gain in certain populations with HIV, as well as slowing the progression of the disease.
• Try setting a timer to remind you to eat every couple of hours.
• Ask your doctor if a glutamine supplement is right for you to prevent or combat wasting.

Boosting Calories and Protein

• Extras count: Add peanut butter, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, sauces, or gravy to food.
• Snack often of high calorie foods.
• Fortify your food by adding powdered nonfat dry milk to anything from milk to sauces, gravy, mashed potatoes, casseroles, cereals and pudding.
• Add hard boiled eggs to chicken or tuna salad, rice, pasta, casseroles or vegetables.
• Eat cottage cheese with fruit.
• Prepare canned soups with milk instead of water.
• Mix yogurt with fresh fruit and granola.
• Spread peanut butter or almond butter on apples, banana, celery, graham crackers or bread.
• Try grated cheese or tofu on with salads, pasta, soups, casseroles, burritos and toast.
• If you are a vegetarian, you can get protein from sources such as dried beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and soy products like soy milk, tofu, endamame. These contain smaller amounts of protein, so you will need to eat more to get the same amounts found in animal protein sources.
• Nutritional supplements such as breakfast drink mixes or meal replacements drinks (available at most pharmacies) may provide an easy way to increase calorie and fluid intake.

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