COPD: The Benefits of Mini-Meals

Many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are underweight, and eating small meals throughout the day can help keep weight on.

Even if you aren't underweight, eating smaller meals 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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