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Conquer the Kitchen
Five Steps That Will Take Your Diet From Downtrodden to Triumphant (and You Along With It)

By David McLay

Spring 2008

Conquer the KitchenDocs tell us to eat better; it's an important way to keep your immune system strong, they say. Sounds simple, but when you try to put it into practice, it can be simply overwhelming. Where to start? What to do better?

First of all, good nutrition is not about counting every calorie or weighing each slice of bread. Nor does it involve a complete overhaul of your diet and eating habits. What you do need to become a triumphant warrior is a battle plan. In the case of nutrition, your battle plan is a menu.

So how do you conquer the kitchen? Fear not, CATIE is here to help you devise a plan to harness the forces of nutrition. In this article you'll find five steps for planning a daily menu that will meet your nutrition needs as well as a one-day sample menu and a list of good stuff to have on hand in your kitchen pantry. We've drawn the information from our Practical Guide to Nutrition for People Living with HIV, which also talks about vitamins, minerals and supplements as well as how to deal with symptoms, side effects and more.

Here's how it works: Start with one of the numbered steps and keep at it until it sticks. Then, move on to another step. Don't get discouraged if you stray from the plan. The next meal is always another chance to do better.

Docs tell us to eat better; it's an important way to keep your immune system strong, they say. Sounds simple, but when you try to put it into practice, it can be simply overwhelming. Where to start? What to do better?

First of all, good nutrition is not about counting every calorie or weighing each slice of bread. Nor does it involve a complete overhaul of your diet and eating habits. What you do need to become a triumphant warrior is a battle plan. In the case of nutrition, your battle plan is a menu.

So how do you conquer the kitchen? Fear not, CATIE is here to help you devise a plan to harness the forces of nutrition. In this article you'll find five steps for planning a daily menu that will meet your nutrition needs as well as a one-day sample menu and a list of good stuff to have on hand in your kitchen pantry. We've drawn the information from our Practical Guide to Nutrition for People Living with HIV, which also talks about vitamins, minerals and supplements as well as how to deal with symptoms, side effects and more.

Here's how it works: Start with one of the numbered steps and keep at it until it sticks. Then, move on to another step. Don't get discouraged if you stray from the plan. The next meal is always another chance to do better.


1. Start With Fruits and Vegetables

7 servings each day


2. Then Add Grains

6 servings for women each day, 8 for men


3. Combine With Milk Products and Alternatives

2 to 3 servings each day


4. Serve With Meat and Alternatives

2 to 3 servings each day


5. Sprinkle Lightly With Fats and Oils

To get your free copy of CATIE's A Practical Guide to Nutrition for People Living with HIV, call 1.800.263.1638 or visit www.catie.ca/ng_e.nsf.

David McLay, Ph.D., is a writer and editor at CATIE.


A Sample Food Plan For One Day

  Fruits and Vegetables Grains Milk and Alternatives Meat and Alternatives Fats and Oils
Breakfast
½ cup (125 mL) berries 1        
1 cup (250 mL) bran flakes   1      
1 cup (250 mL) milk or ¾ cup (175 mL) yogurt     1    
Lunch
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable soup 1        
1 cup (250 mL) green salad 1        
Salad dressing         1 tbsp (15 mL)
Chicken breast sandwich   2   1 1 tbsp (15 mL)
Afternoon snack
Apple, mango or orange 1        
1 container yogurt (175 g)     1    
Dinner
½ cup (125 mL) cooked carrots 1        
½ cup (125 mL) cooked broccoli 1        
1 cup (250 mL) brown rice   2      
Grilled fish       1  
Evening snack (good with meds)
Banana 1        
1 small whole grain bagel   2      
Cheese (increase or decrease fat depending on meds)     1   2 tbsp (30 mL)
Total 7 7 3 2 4 tbsp (60 mL)


Practical Tips for Healthy Eating

Plan ahead. Start with planning the main meal of the day for the next two or three days. Work up to making a weekly menu. Make a list of the groceries you'll need.

Bring the list to the grocery store and have a snack before you go. Both will help keep you from making impulse purchases.

Don't purchase large packages of unhealthy foods that you can't resist.

Read the nutrition information and ingredients on food packaging. Your dietitian can help you learn how to interpret the information.

Carry healthy snacks. This will decrease the likelihood of needing fast food or junk food to curb sudden hunger.

Focus on more unprocessed foods and whole grains. Over time, you might find you skip the grocery aisles filled with processed foods.

Think about brushing up on your cooking skills. Open a recipe book and start with the basics. Simple foods from natural ingredients are not only healthier and easier to cook, they are often cheaper.

If you get paid once a month, stock up on foods like oats, peanut butter, canned fish, brown rice, pasta, canned lentils, black beans, baked beans, pea soup and frozen vegetables.

No fridge or stove? These foods are nutritious, keep well and require little or no cooking:

  • bread or bagels
  • peanut butter and nuts
  • cereal and granola bars
  • powdered milk
  • canned salmon, sardines and tuna
  • canned beans, vegetables and fruit
  • rice cakes and crackers
  • raisins, bananas and apples
  • nutrition drinks

Join a community kitchen if there is one nearby. This is a good way to learn how to cook and save money on meals by sharing the cost. Going to one also makes meals more social, an important benefit of good nutrition.

Read "KISS in the Kitchen -- 15 food groups to pack in your pantry" in the Spring/Summer 2004 issue of CATIE's The Positive Side.




This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. It is a part of the publication The Positive Side. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:
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