Nutritional Education for Pulmonary Patients

This article was prepared by Sue Lutz MS, RD, LD/N, Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center, Ormond Beach, FL.

ood nutrition is important to keep you healthy. A well-balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs for energy, maintaining body

cells and regulating body processes. It may be helpful to limit foods high in carbohydrate in order to promote the best lung function. Calories that normally come from simple carbohydrates should be supplied by foods higher in protein and fat. The reason for this is to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that your body


produces so that your breathing is made easier. Simple carbohydrates can also increase your blood sugar if you take steroids.

Dietary Guidelines

(Florida Medical Nutrition Therapy Manual, 2007 Edition)

  • Use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar
  • Use artificially sweetened soda, jam, jelly, hard candy, syrup, pudding and gelatin instead of regular varieties
  • Use canned fruits packed in juice or water or choose fresh fruit
  • Limit intake of desserts containing sugar
  • Use unsweetened cereals not sugar-coated varieties
  • Eat whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products to replace foods with little nutritional value such as regular soda, candy, chips, cake,
  • Eat five to six small meals per day instead of three large ones
  • Choose foods that are easy to prepare and eat
  • Rest approximately 30 minutes before eating
  • If you use oxygen during exercise or sleep, you should also use oxygen during meals
  • Experiment with different body positions to find one that uses the least energy and is the most comfort- able for eating
  • Avoid foods that produce gas or bloating (i.e., dried beans and peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cucum- bers, onions, raw apples, melons) since they tend to make breathing more difficult
  • Drink enough fluids to help keep mucous thin and easier to cough Drink 48 ounces to 80 ounces of fluid each day, unless you have a medical condition that restricts fluid
  • Limit caffeine-containing liquids because the caffeine can interact with some common medications used to treat COPD (e.g, Theophylline)


Sample Menu for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner                                               



½ Medium grapefruit

2 Slices whole wheat toast 1 Tsp. margarine

1 Tbsp. diet jelly 1 Cup 2% milk



1 oz. Cheese

6 Crackers

1 Pear


6 oz. Vegetable juice Chef Salad:

2 oz. Turkey

  • Cheese
  • Cups Romaine lettuce 1 Tbsp. French dressing

6 Saltine crackers

½ Cup canned peaches



½ Cup cottage cheese

½ Cup pineapple

3 Graham cracker squares


3 oz. Sirloin steak

½ Baked sweet potato 1 Cup green beans

  • Small whole grain roll 1 margarine

½ Cup lime sherbet 1 Cup 2% milk



  • peanut butter

2 Slices whole wheat bread 2 Tsp. diet jelly

1 Cup 2% milk


Approximate Nutritional Analysis: 2100 kcal, 70 grams fat, 110 grams protein, 270 grams carbohydrate                          


                                                     Eating Better to Breathe Better Food List


Food Group Servings Each Day Foods Included Foods to Avoid
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese 2 to 3 Servings Serving size is 1 cup milk, ½ cup yogurt, 1 oz. cheese, ½ cup cottage cheese Fat-free, low fat or whole milk, buttermilk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese Chocolate milk
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts 2 to 3 Servings

Serving size is 3 oz. meat, 2 eggs, ¼ cup nuts, 2 Tbsp. peanut butter,

½ to 1 cup dried beans

Lean meats, dried beans and peas, peanut butter, eggs, nuts Raw eggs
Bread, Cereal, Rice, Potatoes, Pasta 6 to 11 Servings (See serving sizes in next column.) Cooked and dry cereals (3/4 cup); whole grain breads (1 slice); whole grain or wheat blend pastas (1/2 cup); rice or potatoes (1/2 cup) None
Vegetables 3 to 5 Servings Serving size is ½ cup cooked or juice;

1 cup raw

All fresh, frozen or canned vegetables, vegetable juices Any that may cause distress or produce gas
Fruits 2 to 4 Servings Serving size is ½ cup canned or juice;

1 cup raw

All fresh, frozen fruit; canned fruit packed in juice or water; fruit juice or nectars Any that may cause distress or produce gas; canned fruit packed in syrup; dried fruit
Fats and Oils Use sparingly Serving size is 1 Tsp.; if low fat, 1 Tbsp. Margarine, butter, oil; salad dressings, avocado None
Sweets and Desserts Use sparingly Graham crackers, animal crackers, sugar free gelatin or NSA pudding or ice cream All others
Miscellaneous As desired Salt, pepper, vinegar, spices, dill pickles, sugar substitutes, ketchup, mustard, steak sauce, etc. Sugar