June 01 2009 12:00 AM EST
November 17 2015 6:13 AM EST
HIV-infected or not, people need to consume adequate amounts of food -- rather than supplements -- as their primary source of nutrients whenever possible. Several studies over the past few years have suggested that obesity has become a significant problem for both adolescents and adults with HIV infection. Even while overeating, many are getting less -- or even far less -- micronutrients than is needed. When looking at calories, a good routine will include choosing wisely and leaving room to enjoy the pleasures that food has to offer. There are lots of ways to accomplish this, but I recommend five specifically. Tip 1: Find a good routine that you can repeat almost every day. If you have a routine food you eat most days, choose the healthiest version. For instance, choose a whole grain bagel over the cinnamon-raisin kind. Or choose those sweet fat-free caramel rice cakes over the bag of M&Ms that you just can't seem to stop eating. Tip 2: Be aware of appropriate portion sizes. If a restaurant serves you a bulging plate of food, decide how much you will box up to take home even before you begin eating. Then push the plate aside when you reach that point. Tip 3: Find good menu choices in your favorite fast-food or other restaurants. Find out what is really in those meals and make your best choice. If the Southwest Salad has chili (and you really love chili!), you can leave off the dressing and sour cream for a healthier alternative to a cheeseburger and fries. Tip 4: Identify good choices for routine treats you can have every day. Rather than making a big bowl of ice cream a nightly routine, move into a habit of having nonfat vanilla yogurt and add berries. Tip 5: If you want to indulge, do it once in a while and don't go crazy! Unless your medical condition dictates otherwise, you can probably indulge in that decadent treat occasionally. But remember, it needs to fit into the quest for maximizing the nutritional value of your overall diet. Fields-Gardner is the director of services for the HIV nutrition company Cutting Edge and is a member of the International AIDS Society and the American Dietetic Association's Dietetic Practice Group on HIV and AIDS. She is the author of Living Well With HIV and AIDS: A Guide to Nutrition and a coauthor of HIV Medications: Food Interactions and A Clinician's Guide to Nutrition in HIV and AIDS.