Optimizing your nutrition is key when living with interstitial lung disease. Some are risk for malnourishment, as lung disease can cause a hypermetabolic state. Others may be prey to the side effects of medications that cause weight gain. For some, having trouble breathing can make such a daily activity as eating a great challenge. There are some general tips that we encourage in individuals with interstitial lung disease. Below, you will find many other tips shared from our colleagues at the UCSF Nutrition Counseling Clinic.

UCSF Nutrition Counseling Clinic

You can see a dietitian at our NCC for more individualized nutrition counseling:

  • Get a referral from your doctor.
  • Check with your insurance that they cover the visit.
  • Call 415-353-2291 to make an appointment.

Tips for Losing Weight

People with chronic lung disease may gain weight for many reasons, such as poor diet, medications and lack of exercise because of shortness of breath. This weight gain can be stopped by following the guidelines below, in addition to those in the General Guidelines for Healthy Eating.

Eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. There is some evidence that this kind of diet may decrease appetite.

Eat carbohydrates in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, not "simple" carbs. Simple carbohydrates and concentrated sweets, such as cakes, pies, cookies, jams, honey, chips, breads, candy and other highly processed foods are full of empty calories. Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of important nutrients that your body needs.

Limit saturated fat and cholesterol. Choose lean meats, poultry and fish; avoid fried foods and foods with oil, butter, margarine and mayonnaise.

Eat small, frequent meals. This will help satisfy your appetite and make breathing easier than if you eat large meals.

Watch portion size. This  website from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has helpful information, especially the BMI calculator, menu planner and "portion distortion" sections.

You can also print and cut out this Serving Size Card from the National Institutes of Health, as a guide for healthy portion sizes.

Use the plate method to plan healthy meals. It can be modified to fit a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.

Exercise regularly as advised. Daily walking, working out at a gym and participating in pulmonary rehabilitation burn calories and help you maintain function, strength and endurance. They also improve your sense of well-being and help prevent muscle and bone loss.

Seek support. You can find support at your local hospital's weight management program, or through organizations such as Weight Watchers.