Eating right with COPD: A simple guide

Written By

June 21, 2024

Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can make breathing difficult. But making small changes in what you eat can really help you feel and breathe better. Here’s how to choose the right foods to help your lungs. If you need extra help, we’re here for you. Simply self enroll for medication support, you can also call us at (410) 348-1905 or send us an email.

Understanding COPD and food 🌬️🍽️

COPD is a group of lung problems that make it tough to breathe. Eating the right foods is very important because your body needs more energy to breathe when you have COPD.

Before the meal: planning your food

Planning your food is as important as making a shopping list. Here’s what you can do to help your lungs with your food choices:

  1. Eat smaller meals more often: Try to eat about 5 to 6 small meals a day. This stops your stomach from getting too full, which can make it hard to breathe.

  2. Pick good foods: Eat foods that are good for you, like lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lots of fruits and veggies. These foods give you the nutrients you need without making too much carbon dioxide, which can make it harder to breathe if you have too much. This video shares how you can eat healthy on a budget!

At the store: Smart Shopping for healthy lungs 🛒

Go around the edges of the grocery store first. That’s where the fresh foods like fruits and veggies are. Go to the middle aisles for other important things like beans and whole grains.

  1. Choose ingredients carefully: Pick foods that are good for breathing. Foods low in simple sugars and salt are best because too much salt or sugar can make breathing harder.
  2. Choose snacks that give you more: Instead of snacks that don’t help you, pick things like avocados, nuts, and seeds. They give you energy and are good for you, and keep you full so you can avoid cravings for unhealthy foods.
  3. If you are underweight: Drink high-calorie, high-nutrient beverages, like smoothies and whole milk. If you use a nutritional supplement like Ensure or Boost, drink it between meals.Talk to your provider about what type of nutritional shakes may be good for you. There are a lot of options with different proteins and sugars to choose from.

At Home: making and eating meals 🏠🍴

Make eating easier and better for your lungs at home:

  1. Eat slowly: Eating slowly helps you not get too short of breath when you eat.

  2. Make meals ahead: Meal prep may be hard. Keep your meals simple! When prepping, you can prep one thing at a time so it's all ready to go at meal time. Use pre-cut and ready to use ingredients when you can - frozen veggies are a great way to get veggies that are already prepped for you. And always make a big batch when you can - save the leftovers in the fridge so your next meal is a healthy heat and eat!. This video talks about how to nail your meal prep!

  3. Talk to your provider about how much water to drink: It’s important to check with your provider as many people with COPD might have other health problems and need to watch how much fluid they drink. It's important to drink enough but not too much. Drinking water helps you breathe easier by keeping the mucus in your lungs thin. But don’t drink too much right before or during meals so you don’t feel too full. You can track this with the free Water Balance app for iOS / Android, water bottles, or by drinking more water with meals! 

With these tips, you can manage your COPD better and live a happier, healthier life by eating right. By knowing what to eat, planning ahead, and getting help when you need it, you can handle COPD well.

The content on this site is not and should not be considered medical advice or a substitute for individual medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider(s) for diagnosis and treatment, including information regarding which drugs, therapy, or other treatment may be appropriate for you. Learn more here.

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