Adults with cystic fibrosis are just like everyone else; they have jobs, hobbies, friends, and families. But they a genetic disease they need to manage. If you have CF, then your diet, exercise, and treatment are an important part of life. Here’s an opportunity to look at what it means to eat right, stay active, and keep disciplined about taking your medication in a typical day.
Most people with CF have exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), which affects the digestive system and how the body absorbs nutrients, so you have to work to stay at a healthy weight. You might also need extra energy because your body is working harder to breathe. Everyone has different nutritional needs, and your doctor or nutritionist will work with you to build an eating plan that works. To give you a ballpark estimate, most people with CF need to eat twice as much as the general public.
A CF diet requires plenty of nutritious, calorie-rich foods. You need to be getting as much protein, sugar, and fat as you can. Big meals usually aren’t enough, so you’ll probably need to snack throughout the day. Get as much as you can out of every serving by adding something extra, like topping your food with shredded cheese to add calcium and protein. And don’t forget to eat plenty of fruits and vegetable to get healthy, natural antioxidants.
An average day for a person with CF involves planning ahead to get enough to eat. The night before or in the morning, map out where you’ll be and what you’ll eat. Prepare healthy snacks and meals so that you’ll have them on hand. Will you have access to a refrigerator, or will you need to carry an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack to keep snacks cool? Will there be enough water so you don’t get dehydrated (LINK: Sweat glands)? If you know you’ll be eating at a restaurant, look at the menu online and plan your meal. Always make sure you know where you’ll keep your enzyme capsules to help you digest what you eat. You can try adding Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil to your diet for an easy way to increase how much fat you’re taking in.
Putting in the time and effort to eat healthy throughout the day is tough, but it’s worth it. Eating better means breathing better.
Cystic Fibrosis & Exercising
Everyone benefits from a healthy, active lifestyle, and this holds true for people with CF. Exercise helps clear the airway and maintains lung function. If you have CF, exercise is an important part of your daily routine.
Fitting a workout into your day can be challenging, but the benefits are worth it. Speak with your doctor and try a variety of activities to see what suits you best.Cardiovascular activities are important, since they strengthen your lungs and heart. Running and biking are great activities for people with CF; you can work out with a partner but you’re competing with yourself, and you can work around your treatment.
Remember that people with CF don’t do well with heat and humidity. It’s easier to get dehydrated, so keep water and salty snacks on hand. Also, remember you won’t be able to do some things when you’re sick, so keep this in mind when getting involved with organized activities like team sports.
Establish your own healthy exercise goals and work toward them!
When you have CF, daily treatment is key to staying healthy. There is a lot to remember, so it’s important to be keep track of everything. Your doctor and care team will help you find the best ways to maintain your health on a day-to-day basis.
Planning out your day will help you keep on top of your treatment. You’ll take medications and nutritional supplements every day, and there are enzyme capsules to be taken with all your meals and snacks. Portable nebulizers allow you to take breathing treatments on the go, but you’ll schedule around some of your treatments, like High-frequency Chest Wall Oscillation and Postural drainage and percussion (PD&P).
It makes for a busy day, but adults with CF can fit their eating, exercising, and treatment into a satisfying, fulfilling life.
Staying Healthy. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Accessed March 20, 2015.
Cystic Fibrosis and Dietary Needs According to Age. CFChef. December 3, 2014. Accessed March 20, 2015.
Cerny F. Day-to-Day: Exercise and Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. 2009. Accessed March 20, 2015.