COPD: The Benefits of Mini-Meals


Conaway, Brenda

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The muscles you use to breathe have to work harder because you have COPD. They use more energy so you need may need to eat more calories to supply the energy they need and to keep your muscles from becoming weaker. Ask your health care provider what your weight should be and how many calories you should eat each day.   

Weight loss is common in people who have COPD. You should see your health care provider if you lose more than 10 percent of your weight in six months, or more than 5 percent in one month.

Eating small meals throughout the day can help provide the energy your body needs. Even if you aren't underweight, eating smaller meals that have the number of calories your health care provider has recommended has its advantages. A large meal in the stomach presses on the diaphragm, leaving the lungs less room to expand. Digesting a large meal also pulls blood and oxygen into the stomach and away from the rest of the body.

Aim for four or six mini-meals rather than two or three large meals throughout the day. These tips can help:

  • Build each mini-meal around two or three healthy foods: fruits and vegetables; whole grains and cereals; dairy products; and protein. Be sure to eat a balance of these foods.

  • Limit foods with empty calories. Foods that are high in sugar, white flour and fat provide calories, but not vitamins and minerals.

  • Go easy on salt (sodium). Too much sodium causes fluid buildup, making breathing more difficult. Avoid foods with more than 300 mg sodium per serving.

  • Avoid foods that cause gas or bloating, such as fried or greasy foods, beans and some fruits and vegetables. These can make it harder to breathe.

Here are some easy-to-prepare mini-meals:

  • One scrambled egg, whole-grain toast and a melon slice

  • Half a turkey sandwich and vegetable soup

  • Baby carrots, rye crackers and cheddar cheese

  • Vanilla yogurt and thawed, frozen blueberries

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Medical Reviewers: Cineas Sybil MD, Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC, Lee Jenkins Last Review Date: Jul 24, 2012

© 2000-2015 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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