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Basic Nutrition

What is Good Nutrition?

Good nutrition means eating foods each day that will give you the vitamins, minerals, and other things you need to keep your body strong. It means eating foods that give you enough calories to have a healthy body weight. It means getting enough protein to keep your body built up and repair any damage it may have.

Good nutrition means different things at various stages of an HIV infection. This booklet will tell you what you need to know about eating right during each of these different stages:

  • Perhaps you are infected with HIV but have no signs of disease. In this case, concentrate on eating a wide variety of healthy foods each day. There is no one type of food that has everything our bodies need. Try to choose all of your foods from the basic groups of foods described below.
  • Perhaps you HIV infection is causing minor health problems. Eating may be uncomfortable or your appetite may be poor right now, but it is so important to eat well! Sometimes you'll find that by avoiding certain foods and eating others or changing the time that you eat or the amount that you eat can make you feel a lot better.
  • Perhaps your HIV infection is causing serious health problems, and you may even need assistance in shopping, cooking or eating. Keep in close contact with your doctor and use the suggestions in this book to help you carry out his advice concerning food and eating.


A Healthy "Balanced" Diet

All our lives, it seems, we've been told to "eat a balanced diet." Have you ever found yourself wondering what that means? Very simply, it means making daily meals and snacks of foods contained in the basic food groups. These are the kinds of foods known to make us healthy. All the foods in each group are very similar in their nutritional value.

Fruits and Vegetables

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Salads, cooked vegetables, raw or cooked fruits and juices are in this group. They supply many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Eat four servings or more each day.

One serving is considered to be:

  • a piece of fruit or raw vegetable
  • a half cup of cooked vegetable or fruit. This would be like the size of a scoop of ice cream.
  • a small glass of juice.

Protein Foods

Meats, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese are in this group. They give you protein as well as many vitamins and minerals.

Eat three servings or more each day.

One serving is considered to be:

  • Two ounces of meat, fish, chicken or turkey. An ounce is the size of a slice of bologna or other cold cut. A typical chicken leg has about two ounces of meat on it. A typical hamburger patty is three ounces.
  • two eggs
  • two slices of cheese or two 1-inch cubes
  • one cup of cooked beans or peas. This would be about the size of two scoops of ice cream.
  • two handfuls of nuts
  • a thick coating of peanut butter on a typical slice of bread.

Bread and Cereal Group

Bread, grains and cereals are in this group. They have a variety of vitamins, minerals and some protein in them.

Eat four servings or more each day.

One serving is considered to be:

  • one slice of bread
  • one bowl of breakfast cereal
  • one half cup of noodles, macaroni, rice or grits. This would be like the size of a scoop of ice cream. A typical plateful of spaghetti would be two or more servings.
  • one pancake, waffle, tortilla or slice of corn bread
  • one biscuit
  • 5 crackers

Dairy Foods

Milk, cheese and yogurt are in this group. They give you protein, vitamins and a lot of calcium.

Eat two servings or more each day.

One serving is considered to be:

  • 8 ounce glass of milk. This is about the size of a coffee mug.
  • 8 ounces of yogurt. This is the size of the typical container of yogurt at the store.
  • Two slices of cheese, or two 1-inch cubes.
  • One bowl of pudding or custard, the size of a cereal bowl.
  • One and one half cups of ice cream. This would be the amount in three scoops, or three ice cream bars.
Keep in mind that these are the minimum number of servings to eat each day. Only you know how much you need to eat to keep from losing weight. Because of the effect of HIV on our bodies, you may have to eat much more than usual to keep from losing weight.


What About Junk Food?

Sometimes its very tempting to eat junk food instead of healthy food. A bag of chips, a cola and a candy bar seem so much easier to eat, and taste good too! Some facts about junk food can help you make your own decisions about whether or not to eat it.

First of all, some things that people call "junk food" are really good for you. Pizza, hamburger, tacos, sandwiches, and ice cream are all very nutritious. If you think about it, they are made of cheese, meat, milk, and bread. These are all mentioned in the basic food groups listed previously. You can feel good about eating them.

Some other "junk foods" are not as nutritious. Candy, chips, and soft drinks are mostly made of fat and sugar. They have very little protein, vitamins and minerals. If you eat too much of them, you may find you are not hungry for foods in the basic food groups which give you what your body needs.

Junk food usually has a lot of calories. Eating foods with a lot of calories can make people gain weight. When you are infected with HIV, you may find yourself losing more weight than is good for you. Candy, cookies, and soft drinks may help you gain weight at these times. You can enjoy them along with foods from the basic food groups for extra calories and good nutrition too!


Planning Your Meals

If you follow some kind of a pattern or plan for your meals, you can be sure of getting all the basic foods you need each day. Here are examples of two eating patterns. You can see the two are very different. Pattern 1 has three meals per day. It would be good for someone who likes to eat three big meals each day. Pattern 2 has six little meals in it. It would be good for someone who likes to nibble all day. Both ways of eating are just fine. Both have enough of each of the basic food groups. You might wish to follow one of these patterns or make up one of your own that suits the way you live.

Pattern 1

Breakfast:
Protein group food
Bread/cereal food
Fruit or vegetable
Milk group food

Lunch:
2 Bread/cereal foods
Protein food
Fruit or vegetable
Milk group food

Supper:
Protein food
Bread/cereal food
2 Fruits or vegetables

Totals:
Protein Foods -- 3
Fruits/vegetables -- 4
Bread/cereals -- 4
Milk group foods -- 2

Pattern 2

Breakfast:
Bread/cereal food
Milk group food

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable
Protein group food

Lunch:
2 Bread/cereal foods
Protein food
Fruit or vegetable

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable

Supper:
Protein food
Bread/cereal food

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable
Milk

Totals:
Protein Foods -- 3
Fruits/vegetables -- 4
Bread/cereals -- 4
Milk group foods -- 2

Here are some sample menus for a few days using Meal Pattern 1.

Breakfast:
Protein food -- Scrambled eggs -- or fast food special: 1 egg
Bread or cereal -- Bowl of cereal -- or fast food: English muffin
Fruit or vegetable -- Sliced peaches -- or fast food: Orange juice
Milk group food -- Milk on cereal -- or fast food: Cheese on sandwich

Lunch:
2 Bread or cereal -- crackers -- or fast food special tacos: 2 taco shells
Protein food -- Bowl of chili -- for the tacos: ground beef
Fruit of vegetable -- Carrot sticks -- for the tacos: Lettuce/tomato
Milk group food -- Cheese on chilli -- for the tacos: Grated cheese

Supper:
Protein food -- Chicken pot pie -- Chicken dinner: Fried chicken
Bread of cereal -- toast -- or with the chicken: Roll
2 Fruit or vegetable -- Green salad/orange -- or with chicken: slaw/mashed potato

Breakfast:
Protein food -- Egg salad -- Breakfast sundae: Chopped nuts
Bread or cereal -- Toast -- with sundae: Granola (on yogurt)
Fruit or vegetable -- Tomato juice -- with sundae: Sliced Banana
Milk group food -- Milk -- with sundae: Yogurt

Lunch:
2 Bread or cereal -- Corn bread -- Noodle soup/Bread
Protein food -- Pinto Beans -- Tuna salad
Fruit or vegetable -- Turnip greens -- Apple
Milk group food -- Ice cream -- Chocolate milk

Supper:
Protein food -- Fish sticks -- Hamburger meat
Bread or cereal -- Roll -- Spaghetti or other noodles
2 Fruit or vegetable -- Green beans -- Tossed green salad

Here are some sample menus for a few days using Meal Pattern 2.

Breakfast:
Bread or cereal -- Rye toast -- Crackers
Milk group food -- Yogurt -- Cheddar cheese

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Sliced pear -- Apple juice
Protein food -- Peanut butter -- Boiled egg

Lunch:
2 Bread or cereal -- Crackers -- 2 slices bread
Protein Food -- Chicken salad -- Hamburger pattie
Fruit or vegetable -- Carrot sticks -- Vegetable soup

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Fruit cocktail -- Grape juice

Supper:
Protein Food -- Slice of Ham -- Peanut butter
Bread or cereal -- Bread -- Vanilla wafers

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Banana -- Cantaloupe
Milk group food -- Hot cocoa -- Yogurt

Breakfast:
Bread or cereal -- Raisin Bread -- Cereal
Milk group food -- Cottage Cheese -- Milk

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Celery sticks -- Mixed nuts
Protein food -- Peanut Butter -- Grape juice

Lunch:
2 Bread or cereal -- Crackers -- 2 pieces toast
Protein food -- Tuna chunks -- Bean soup
Fruit or vegetable -- Tossed salad -- Orange

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Raisins -- Baked potato

Supper:
Protein food -- Scrambled egg -- Roast beef
Bread or cereal -- Toast Bread

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Sliced peaches -- Fruit cocktail
Milk group food -- Ice cream -- Cottage cheese

Breakfast:
Bread or cereal -- English muffin -- Cold cereal
Milk group food -- Melted cheese -- Yogurt

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Raisins -- Grapes
Protein food -- Peanuts -- Cheese cubes

Lunch:
2 Bread or cereal -- Crackers -- or Lasagna
Protein food -- Noodle Soup -- (i.e., Lasagna) Noodles
Fruit or vegetable -- Chopped chicken -- Ground beef (for the Lasagna)
Apple juice -- Tomato sauce (with the Lasagna)

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Canned pineapple -- Applesauce

Supper:
Protein Food -- Egg salad -- Peanut butter
Bread or cereal -- Bagel -- Muffin

Snack:
Fruit or vegetable -- Peaches -- Banana
Milk group food -- Milkshake -- Ice cream

Only You Know What You Like To Eat

Everyone knows that eggs and bacon are "breakfast" foods and turkey and gravy are "dinner" foods, right? Not necessarily! Only if you like them that way? There are many people who eat pizza for breakfast, and cereal and milk for supper! There is nothing wrong with this! Bacon and eggs and pizza and turkey and cereal and milk are all good for you. Your body doesn't care if you eat them in the morning, noon or night time. When selecting what foods you might eat from the basic food groups consider such things as:

what you like to eat
what you've got on hand,
what you can afford to buy,
what helps you meet your medical needs!

You can see below how two different people might eat two different kinds of meals in a day. Both used Pattern 1 to get in all their basic food groups. Menu 1 shows traditional foods. Menu 2 is not traditional at all but just as healthy!

Breakfast:
--Pattern--
Protein Food
Bread or cereal
Fruit or vegetable
Milk group food

--Menu 1--
2 eggs Omelet
Toast
Orange juice
Milk

--Menu 2--
BBQ beef
Bun
Cole Slaw
Milkshake

Lunch:
--Pattern--
2 Bread or cereal
Protein food
Fruit or vegetable
Milk group food

--Menu 1--
2 slices bread
Sliced ham
Sliced tomato
Sliced cheese

--Menu 2--
Oatmeal & Biscuit
Fried eggs
Tomato juice
Hot cocoa

Supper:
--Pattern--
Protein food
Bread or cereal
2 fruit or vegetable

--Menu 1--
Meatloaf
Roll
Corn and Peas

--Menu 2--
Peanut butter
Crackers
Sliced banana & Apple juice


About Vitamin and Mineral Pills

It is a good idea for you to take a daily multi-vitamin and mineral pill. Look for one that includes iron. Pills cannot make up for not eating right. When you are infected with HIV your body may need the extra vitamin-mineral pill.

It is better to take one multi-vitamin and mineral pill each day than to take several pills containing different vitamins and minerals. These can cause dangerous side effects.

Be careful when you shop for your vitamin-mineral pill. Compare prices. The most expensive may not be the best. The ones that advertise a lot on television may not be any better than those which do not. It is not important for a vitamin to be "natural" instead of synthetic. Your body can't tell the difference. Also, there is no such thing as a special vitamin pill for HIV or AIDS. The pharmacist at the drug store can help you pick out a good vitamin and mineral pill.

The vitamins and minerals in pills work best in your body when you take them without any food in your stomach. If this causes you pain, it will be okay to take your pill along with some food. You might also try taking your pill just before bedtime.


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This article was provided by Tennessee Department of Health AIDS Support Services. It is a part of the publication Nutrition and HIV: Your Choices Make a Difference.
 

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