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The Dietitian's Corner

Summer, 1999

There are many books that discuss nutrition and HIV, but my favorite is Positive Cooking, by Lisa McMillan RD, Jill Jarvie RD, CNSD, and Janet Brauer. It is one of the most practical nutrition books for those who are infected with HIV or those who care for them. It is definitely a book that everyone should have access to, as a guide for restoring and maintaining good health through nutrition. The books is available in most bookstores, libraries, and at STEP.

So why do I recommend it? The book begins with basic, easy-to-understand information on the importance of nutrition for the immune system, a food guide to help make a good nutrition plan, and a guide to the basic nutrients that are essential for good health. A table lists key vitamins and minerals, their sources, and recommended doses. The book also includes a section on food safety and changing unhealthy behaviors.

The strength of the book is the section on how to manage symptoms through good nutrition. The authors discuss the most common symptoms that visit most HIV-infected persons at one time or another and how to manage them through diet, including:

  • The most common dietary causes of diarrhea


  • What to reach for when you are feeling nauseated

  • The best foods to choose to help pack on those pounds

  • What to eat when you feel too tired to lift a fork, let alone fix a grand meal

The book also gives a week of menus for the most common complaints, taking the guesswork out of how to plan your diet and saving you a lot of time and headache.

The rest of the book is filled with easy, delicious recipes that support the menus. Each recipe provides information on the protein, fat, carbohydrate, and calorie counts for each serving. At the bottom of the recipe is a short note on what that recipe is good for; such as easing nausea, decreasing diarrhea, increasing weight, etc. In addition, there is a chart at the beginning of each section of recipes to aid in picking recipes to help relieve different symptoms.

For those who are unable to have milk or lactose in their diet, recipes will often list substitutions or modifications. The authors also often include suggestions for ingredients to omit or substitute for particular symptoms, so that you'll know what ingredient might cause a problem and how to work around it.

Here are a few recipes from Positive Cooking. (The nutrition information has been omitted to save space, but comments about the recipe are included.)

Mexican Baked Chicken with Beans

2 cans (16 oz. each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1-1/2 pounds chicken pieces, skinned, rinsed, and dried

1 cup prepared salsa

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 avocado

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Place the beans in a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Place the chicken on top of the beans, and cover with salsa.

  3. Bake, covered for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and allow it to melt, about 2 minutes.

  4. When the chicken is almost done, peel, pit and slice the avocado. Top the chicken with the avocado slices just before serving.

Good for constipation fatigue; promotes weight gain.

Go Ape Shake

2 medium-sized ripe bananas

1-1/2 cups vanilla-flavored low-fat yogurt

1 cup low-fat milk

1 pkg. instant breakfast, any flavor

3 tablespoons honey

Put all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth.

Good for chewing and swallowing difficulties, dry mouth, fatigue, loss of appetite, mouth and throat sores; promotes weight gain.

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This article was provided by Seattle Treatment Education Project. It is a part of the publication STEP Perspective.