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How do I keep from losing weight?

for Veterans and the Public

How do I keep from losing weight?

Weight loss can be a common problem for people with relatively advanced stages of HIV infection, and it should be taken very seriously. It usually improves with effective antiretroviral therapy (ART). Losing weight can be dangerous because it makes it harder for your body to fight infections and to get well after you're sick.

People with HIV often do not eat enough because:

  • HIV may reduce your appetite, make food taste bad, and prevent the body from absorbing food in the right way. Some HIV medicines may also cause these symptoms (if this is so, tell your HIV specialist--you may be able to change to medications that do not have these side effects).
  • symptoms like a sore mouth, nausea, and vomiting make it difficult to eat
  • fatigue from HIV or medicines may make it hard to prepare food and eat regularly

To keep your weight up, you will need to take in more protein and calories. What follows are ways to do that.

To add protein to your diet

Protein-rich foods include meats, fish, beans, dairy products, and nuts. To boost the protein in your meals:

  • Spread nut butter on toast, crackers, fruit, or vegetables.
  • Add cottage cheese to fruit and tomatoes.
  • Add canned tuna to casseroles and salads.
  • Add shredded cheese to sauces, soups, omelets, baked potatoes, and steamed vegetables.
  • Eat yogurt on your cereal or fruit.
  • Eat hard-boiled (hard-cooked) eggs. Use them in egg-salad sandwiches or slice and dice them for tossed salads.
  • Add diced or chopped meats to soups, salads, and sauces.
  • Add dried milk powder or egg white powder to foods (like scrambled eggs, casseroles, and milkshakes).

To add calories to your diet

The best way to increase calories is to add carbohydrates and some extra fat to your meals.

Carbohydrates include both starches and simple sugars.

Starches are in:

  • breads, muffins, biscuits, crackers
  • oatmeal and cold cereals
  • pasta
  • potatoes
  • rice

Simple sugars are in:

  • fresh or dried fruit (raisins, dates, apricots, etc)
  • jelly, honey, and maple syrup added to cereal, pancakes, and waffles

Fats are more concentrated sources of calories. Add moderate amounts of the following to your meals:

  • butter, margarine, sour cream, cream cheese, peanut butter
  • gravy, sour cream, cream cheese, grated cheese
  • avocados, olives, salad dressing