Healthy Eating – Published in CFF web site.
The mucus your body produces makes it hard to absorb fat and nutrients, which is why a good CF diet is one that is high in calories and high in fat. Maintaining a healthy weight — and sometimes increasing it — is key to fighting infection and keeping your lungs and body strong. By making small changes in your daily routine, you can make a big difference in your weight.
Tips for Planning and Preparing Meals
Successfully managing a “CF belly” really depends upon three things: input, processing and output. It’s that simple — but it means planning ahead.
Prepare to eat (input), have what you need to digest (process) what you’ve consumed and anticipate the results (output).
Whether you are feeling great or when you’re ill and don’t feel hungry, give yourself time to plan. Before you go to sleep, think about the busy day ahead. Where will you be spending your time? Where can you easily stash food? Is there a refrigerator nearby? Microwave? How about a place to eat?
Think about “packability.” Plan meals or snacks that you can carry in your backpack, purse or briefcase and store in your desk drawer, locker or a cooler in your car. Buy a variety of foods so you don’t get tired of eating the same foods every day.
Cook once to eat three times. When cooking, make enough to pack a meal for tomorrow’s lunch or use plastic containers to freeze meals that you can easily “grab ‘n go.”
Even if you are only cooking for one or two people, look for magazines and recipe books designed for smaller portions so food doesn’t go to waste. Or make a full portion and freeze part of it for when you’re not feeling up to cooking.
Organize Your Kitchen
Organize your kitchen so that everything you need for “grab ‘n go” snacks and meals are within arm’s length. Keep in stock things like paper bags, plastic bags, napkins and food containers.
Create a shelf in your kitchen or refrigerator just for your “grab ‘n go” favorites.
Keep plastic containers on hand to store meal-sized portions in the refrigerator or freezer. In the morning, just grab a filled container to take to work or school or wherever you go.
Organize Your Shopping
Avoid wandering aimlessly around the grocery store by planning ahead. Plan out your menu for the week so you have what you need on hand and don’t have to play the “What’s for dinner?” game.
Many cooking websites provide creative ideas for menu planning, such as theme meals (Taco Night or No-Meat Mondays). Thinking ahead ensures more nutritious and satisfying options.
Buy in bulk to save. You can save money by buying in bulk at discount stores and individually wrapping foods yourself in plastic wrap, plastic bags or foil.
Read food labels. Food labels will help you learn to choose foods that meet your goals.
Keep an eye out for new ideas. Just look around you. “Grab ‘n go” options are everywhere. Check out the selection in convenience stores, vending machines, corner markets, food stands.
Grab ‘n Go Meals and Snacks
Eating should be enjoyable. Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time can help you avoid added stress or going hungry during any part of the day. The following ideas can inspire you and even boost your appetite.
- Scramble an egg or two with cheese, wrap it in a tortilla and off you go.
- Microwave a breakfast sandwich while you are dressing.
- Keep canned shakes, yogurt drinks and other high-calorie beverages in your book bag or briefcase.
- Buy giant muffins in bulk and wrap and freeze each in its own bag.
- Before you go to bed, fill a water bottle with your favorite beverage or shake each night. Grab it before you head out in the morning.
- Make a batch of French toast or pancakes, wrap individual servings and freeze. In the morning, pop a serving in the microwave.
- Keep single-serving oatmeal (in a packet or a prepackaged insulated bowl) in your pantry or cupboard. Just add hot milk and take it with you.
- Buy cold cereal in individual containers (bowls or boxes) or pour your favorite cereal into a plastic container. Take along single servings of boxed liquid milk (the kind that does not need to be refrigerated).
- Keep a bowl of fruit by your house or car keys. Grab a banana, orange or apple on your way out the door.
- Top bagel halves with spaghetti sauce and shredded cheese for a pizza bagel.
- Make sandwiches (ham, turkey) at the beginning of the week and freeze them. Toss one in your bag and let it thaw during the day. You can also look for frozen sandwiches in the grocery store.
- Think about refrigerated wraps or burritos. Buy microwavable burritos, so you can wrap one in a paper towel, heat it and run.
- Pack microwavable instant soup, instant noodles, fun-size containers of spaghetti and meatballs or macaroni and cheese
- Try a tuna kit (tuna fish, crackers and mayo).
You never know when you’re going to be held up or stuck somewhere — carry a snack with you. Easy-access snacks are particularly important.
Keep these snacks cool with an ice pack in an insulated lunch bag or cooler:
- High-fat deli meat and cheese “roll-ups”
- Cheese sticks and single servings (peel-and-eat varieties such as Gouda, cheddar and string cheeses)
- Single servings of whole-milk cottage cheese
- Whole-milk yogurt and yogurt drinks
- Hummus in a small container and pita bread cut into triangles
- Single-serving canned pears, peaches or fruit cocktail
Keep these anywhere:
- Trail mix
- Granola, protein and snack bars
- Fig bars
- Cheese and cracker packs
- Shakes, canned or bottled
- Individual peanut butter packets
- Graham crackers, vanilla wafers, gingersnap cookies, animal crackers
- Nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts)
- Sunflower seeds
- Raisin bread
- Pretzels or chips
- Single-serving juice or milk boxes
- Dried fruit
- Bottled coffee drinks
- Pudding snacks (some brands do not have to be refrigerated)
- Hot cocoa mix
- Fresh fruit
Take Bathroom Precautions
Before you leave the house, go to the bathroom. Don’t hold it! Inevitably, if you decide to wait, you’ll get caught in traffic or stuck on a subway or worse.
If you are having a particularly “bad belly” day, think about your route ahead of time. If you are driving, prepare to stop at rest stops you know are clean. If you are in a big city, head for the public restrooms in hotel lobbies or upscale department stores.
For privacy, find the family or handicap facilities.
If you are having more stomachaches or gas while at school or work, you may want to spend some extra time in the bathroom. Some people like to keep a small can of air freshener with them to minimize the smell.
If you are having more stomach pain or gas than usual, call your CF care team for advice. You should never feel ill at ease or embarrassed about taking care of yourself.