Can diet ease side effects and symptoms? - HIV
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Can diet ease side effects and symptoms?

for Veterans and the Public

Can diet help ease side effects and symptoms?

Many symptoms of HIV, as well as the side effects caused by HIV medicines, can be helped by using (or avoiding) certain types of foods and drinks.

Below are some tips for dealing with common problems people with HIV face. You should also look in the side effects section for more information.


  • Try the BRAT Diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast).
  • Try some ginger--in tea, ginger ale, or ginger snaps (these need to be made with real ginger root).
  • Don't drink liquids at the same time you eat your meals.
  • Eat something small, like crackers, before getting out of bed.
  • Keep something in your stomach; eat a small snack every 1-2 hours.
  • Avoid foods like:
    • Fatty, greasy, or fried foods
    • Very sweet foods (candy, cookies, or cake)
    • Spicy foods
    • Foods with strong odors

Mouth and swallowing problems

  • Avoid hard or crunchy foods such as raw vegetables.
  • Try eating cooked vegetables and soft fruits (like bananas and pears).
  • Avoid very hot foods and beverages. Cold and room temperature foods will be more comfortable to your mouth.
  • Do not eat spicy foods. They can sting your mouth.
  • Try soft foods like mashed potatoes, yogurt, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, and canned fruits.
  • Rinse your mouth with water. This can moisten your mouth, remove bits of food, and make food taste better to you.
  • Stay away from oranges, grapefruit, and tomatoes. They have a lot of acid and can sting your mouth.


  • Try the BRAT Diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast).
  • Keep your body hydrated with water or other fluids (those that don't have caffeine).
  • Limit sodas and other sugary drinks.
  • Avoid greasy and spicy foods.
  • Avoid milk and other dairy products.
  • Eat small meals and snacks every 1-2 hours.