When you’re HIV positive, you have to be especially careful about keeping your immune system in check. Eating well will help to keep your body strong and your defenses up for fighting infection. Don’t wait until HIV turns into full-blown AIDS to think about your health and well-being; studies show that individuals live longer, healthier lives when they eat well, so don’t discount the power of good nutrition. Following are some tips for eating well when you’re HIV positive.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Both HIV and the treatment to help control your symptoms might result in a loss of appetite. This is normal, but you shouldn’t allow yourself to undergo significant weight loss. To keep yourself from getting sick, eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Even a small snack will help keep your energy up to fight the infection. If you find that you are still unable to maintain a healthy weight, talk to your doctor about food supplements that can help you retain calories and build up your immune system.
Consume Representative Quantities of Different Foods
You should know that the way you eat will impact how well you can fight off secondary infections when you’re HIV positive. Since different foods contain different minerals, vitamins and other substances of nutritional value, try to eat a varied diet. For example, if you eat vegetables and meats for dinner, go with grains and dairy products for breakfast. Try to fit each of the food groups into your daily meals. If you are having trouble fitting them into your meals, try consuming snacks between meals to fit everything in.
Eat Lots of Protein
One of the most important things you should consume on a daily basis is protein, as it will help your body’s natural defense against HIV and secondary infections. Try to eat meat at least once a day, particularly fish and lean meats like pork loin. This will help sustain your body throughout its rigorous battle against HIV, and it will also help you to feel healthier. If you’re a vegetarian, eat non-meat foods that contain protein, such as nuts and tofu. You may also be able to take a protein supplement if your physician approves.
Never Eat Expired Products
Food borne illness is a major concern for those who are HIV positive. Simple food poisoning might leave a healthy person ill for a few days, but when you’re HIV positive, it can take weeks to recover and the damage to your immune system is cumulative. Check the expiration dates on everything before you eat and never consume anything that has mold on it. This includes cheese or bread that has only partially begun to develop mold. Make sure that you wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly and that you cook meat sufficiently before eating.
Keep Food Areas Clean
Another source of food borne illness is a kitchen or cooking area that hasn’t been properly disinfected. Make sure to clean all surfaces with Lysol spray or wipes and never eat off anything that hasn’t been washed with soap and hot water. You should also pay special attention to cleaning things you use daily, like can openers and cutting boards.
Pay Attention to Medication
Some medications for those who are HIV positive will interact poorly with certain foods. Make sure to get the full disclosure from your physician or the pharmacist before starting a drug regimen. If you are advised not to eat certain foods, make a list and post it on the refrigerator so you don’t forget. Remember that some drugs won’t necessarily make you sick when eaten with certain foods, but the food might still increase the frequency and intensity of side effects.
Avoid Sushi and Other Raw Foods
Even if you are an aficionado of raw foods, you should avoid them if you’re HIV positive. This will increase your chances of contracting a food borne illness, even when prepared correctly.