Healthy eating is a basic but important thing you can do for yourself. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Eat a variety of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables in a range of different colours, and you’re on track. Shopping smart and eating on the go can be healthy if you use some simple guidelines.

Pick a variety of colours and textures

Get a mix of these groups every day:

  • vegetables and fruits in a several colours for maximum nutrition: green, orange, yellow, purple….
  • dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese, kefir
  • grains: whole grains are best for your system and digestion. Look for packages saying “100% whole grain”
  • meat and alternative proteins: nuts and seeds, meat, beans, fish, lentils, tofu

Pro tip: Fill half of your plate with vegetables at every meals.

Shop smart

  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables, which are most affordable when in season. Frozen fruits and vegetables are fine too.
  • Canned foods often have salt or added sugar, so rinse them before eating.
  • Buy whole grain breads, pastas, rice, and cereals.
  • Pay attention to labels and buy food that is made with whole grains and limited amounts of added fat, salt, and sugar.

Pro tip: Meat is expensive, so try some good alternatives for protein, such as kidney beans in chili, a lentil soup, chickpea salad, or soy hot dogs and burgers.

Eating on the run

You can still eat well when you aren’t able to prepare food for yourself. Here are some ideas:

  • a container of yogurt
  • pizza slice, bagel and cream cheese, whole grain bun
  • fruit or vegetables you can eat raw
  • peanuts or other nuts, sunflower seeds
  • take-out food that combines vegetables, grains, and protein

Digestion

HIV can make it difficult for your stomach to digest food, which means that you may get less benefit for the same amount of food. Various infections may also make it difficult to eat. Try eating smaller portions more often.

If you have problems with constipation, exercise can help. Also try increasing your intake of the following:

  • water
  • prune juice
  • shredded wheat and bran cereals
  • ground flax seeds
  • beans and lentils
  • raisins
  • raw fruits and veggies