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Tips On Controlling Diarrhea

Summer '94

Diarrhea affects almost all persons living with HIV disease. It can be very hard to control. Often, diarrhea interferes with your eating program; it seems that if you eat, you'll have diarrhea right after your meal!

These suggestions are offered to many persons living with HIV, but because HIV is so individual, some of the hints may not work for you‹ but others will! Try all of them to find your own best results.

Things To Avoid

Avoid dairy products: milk, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, etc. Often, you can safely eat yogurt and/or cheese. You'll have to find out for yourself if these cause diarrhea in your body. You may also need to avoid cream soups and mixed foods like lasagna, enchiladas, pizza and "white" sauces. All of these contain dairy -- either milk or cream, or both. And they are high in fat.

Hi-fat foods: although you may digest them easily, you also may not. Determine your own limits and eat as much fat (which has lots of calories!) as you can.

Avoid high fiber foods: eat white bread, pasta and rice, and eat low-fiber cereals. Brown rice and whole grain bread, etc. are, of course, better nutritional choices, but high fiber in those "brown" foods can, and probably will, make diarrhea worse.

Avoid beans and other "gassy" foods like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Carbonated beverages can be gassy too.

Avoid fresh vegetables: Veggies are very nutritious, but they also have fiber, which can make diarrhea worse. However, you may be able to handle some veggies like zucchini & green beans. Also, sometimes you can tolerate canned vegetables - better than none at all - try for yourself.

Avoid most fruits: (there are some exceptions). Because fruits are so easily digested, they may seem to "go straight through you."

Avoid caffeine-containing beverages: coffee, tea & colas.

Avoid strong spices like hot sauce, pepper, and Tabasco, etc.

Some Foods May Help To Control Diarrhea

Eat bananas, mangoes, papayas and applesauce. Although some people may have trouble with some of these fruits, others will find that they provide some relief. These fruits usually help people with HIV-related diarrhea.

Eat barley. This neutral-tasting grain can slow intestinal motion which will control your diarrhea. Here's a recipe to include barley in your nutrition plan:

Buy a can of "beef & barley" soup and package of "pearl" barley, which is near the pasta and rice in markets, packaged in plastic wrappers. Make both the soup and one cup of barley by following label directions, then add the barley to the soup‹with more water to make it more like soup (if you want to eat it that way) and enjoy! The mixture will replace some lost fluids & electrolytes, and will also slow down your GI tract.

Drink Lots of Fluids

Drink rice water: make white rice by following label directions, but use an extra 1-1/2 cup of water. When the rice is cooked to the texture you want, drain off the extra water, chill (if you prefer), and then drink it. If you need a sweetener, use a small amount of sugar or honey.

This is an old Latin remedy called horchata. You can buy horchata in Latin-American stores. It even comes in different flavors!

You're losing valuable body fluids with diarrhea output. If you don't aggressively replace these fluids, you could become dehydrated.

Drink Peidalyte/Infalyte. This wonderful product is sold in the baby food section of grocery stores. It even acts against the BAD diarrhea of "crypto" infection!

Drink fluids! You're losing valuable body fluids with diarrhea output. If you don't aggressively replace these fluids, you could become dehydrated. Severe dehydration can lead to hospitalization and even death. Drink, drink, drink!

How You Eat Is As Important As What You Eat!

Eat small meals, frequently. Eat slowly, & chew your food well. Avoid very hot & very cold foods, & rest after meals. Drink water and other fluids between meals. While eating, slowly sip your beverages.

And if you have painful gassy cramps, a heating pad can work wonders!

(Copyright, 1992: Health & Fitness Associates, & Jennifer Jensen, MBA, MPH, RD. 901 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 310, SM, CA 90401 (310) 450-5581. All rights reserved.)

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.