You probably never thought about it. But to eat, you have to breathe. Chewing and digesting food, like everything you do with your body, uses oxygen. This means that you must work harder to breathe enough while eating.
At the same time, the food in the stomach fills the lungs and the diaphragm, making it difficult to work. And conditions like COPD or asthma can enlarge your lungs and leave less space in your chest.
Your breathing problems can also make you too tired to eat. But eating well is especially important, so you can stay strong and avoid diseases and infections that can make your health worse.
Tips for easier feeding
Clean your lungs an hour before eating. You can do this in several ways, depending on your respiratory condition. You can:
- Deep, controlled cough
- Lie down to drain mucus
- Touch your chest
- Use your inhaler
- Rest before meals to save energy to eat.
Eat seated to make room for your lungs and diaphragm to expand to make breathing easier.
Use your oxygen during meals. If you use a cannula, use it while eating to provide your body with the oxygen it needs for healthy digestion.
Don’t eat too much. Give your lungs and diaphragm more space to do their job, without overloading your stomach.
Eat smaller meals more often. One way to not overeat at the same time is to divide three large meals into five or six smaller meals.
Match your meals to your energy level. If you get tired later, eat earlier. If you have something planned that will pamper you, eat early.
Stay away from food causing gases. The swelling will also decrease the space for the lungs. So avoid or limit:
- Beans and lentils
- Onions, leeks, shallots and chives
- Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts
- Peas (split and black-eyed)
- Root vegetables such as turnips, radishes and rutabagas
- Raw apples
- Soft drinks and fruit juices
- Fried or fatty foods
- Spicy food
Cut down on drinks. If you are full of drinks, drink less during the meal. Or save the fluids for later or another time.
Eat and chew slowly. Take your time with your food to breathe deeply and fill your body with the necessary oxygen. Make small bites and rest in the middle. If you feel short of breath, slow down and take a break.