The official blog of the Lung Institute.
There’s no denying it – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) makes it difficult to enjoy a meal. The thought of shoving food into your mouth when you’re already struggling to take a breath can feel daunting. Not to mention that shortness of breath and fatigue make it difficult to prepare even the simplest meal. While it’s harder to eat with COPD, it’s not impossible. Follow these tips for making COPD and meal prep more manageable and enjoyable.
Focus on Nutrition
When planning your meals, focus on choosing nutrient-rich foods that will set you up for success in managing your daily tasks. According to the Cleveland Clinic, people with COPD use more energy to breathe than people who don’t. In fact, the muscles required for breathing might use 10 times more calories than those of a person who doesn’t have COPD. Because of this, a person with COPD might need to consume more calories than a person without COPD. However, the quality of the food is just as important.
In our blog post, How to Create a Healthy COPD Diet in 5 Easy Steps, we break down key elements of a healthy COPD diet:
- Vitamin D
- Avoid bad foods
Keep it Simple
Plan to make foods that require few ingredients and short prep times. Focus on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains. Avoid foods that have many ingredients (especially ones that you don’t recognize) or are highly processed or fried. Need some inspiration for some easy recipes? Read our guide, Healthy COPD Recipes.
If cooking is too much or is only realistic a few days a week, try to purchase food that has already been prepared. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and can still be healthy. Purchase frozen vegetables or a rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. Or you might consider signing up for a Meals on Wheels delivery route in your area.
Take Small Bites
Take small bites and chew your food slowly, and take deep breaths while you chew. Put your utensils down while you chew and focus on the color, flavor and smells of the food that you’re eating. Mindful eating not only helps you fully enjoy your meal, it also causes you to eat more consciously, making it easier to breathe while you eat.
You should also choose food that’s easy to chew. Salmon is easier to chew than steak, for example. Additionally, eating five to six smaller meals a day rather than three will help reduce fatigue while eating and provide you with a constant stream of energy throughout the day. If you’re not at home, bring small high-calorie snacks with you, such as peanut butter and apple slices, nuts or cheese and crackers.
Rethink Meal Times
Your energy levels vary throughout the day, so if you have less energy around 5:00 but more at 4:00, consider switching your dinnertime to 4:00. Eat your big meal when your energy levels are highest, which is less taxing on your body.
Eat protein shakes and smoothies when you have less energy. They’re not only easier to make than a full meal, they’re easier for your body to digest.
COPD and meal prep can go hand in hand if you plan well and set yourself up for success. Pick a recipe that’s easy to follow and makes a lot of food. Quinoa bowls, soups, chili or other foods that freeze well are great choices.
Once you have decided what to make, plan to cook at the time of day that you have the most energy. Make it social – invite friends or family to join you. When you plan ahead and focus on your strengths, meal prep can help set you up for success with COPD.
If you or a loved one suffers from COPD, stem cell therapy may help to improve your quality of life and make daily tasks like meal prep easier. If you would like more information on stem cell therapy, contact us today to speak with a patient coordinator.