Reviewed by David Tinkelman, MD

Shortness of breath at mealtimes can make eating hard work. If you use all your energy preparing a healthy meal, you may find yourself unable to eat and/or enjoy what you have prepared. Here are a few practical suggestions on how to conserve energy and get the most from your meals.

  • Many people with chronic lung disease such as asthma feel more short of breath when their stomach is full. This is because the diaphragm can not work as well when the stomach is full. You can satisfy your nutritional needs, keep your stomach comfortable and help your diaphragm to work better by eating smaller, more frequent meals. Small, frequent meals also reduce the chance of reflux.

  • Plan to eat before you are too hungry or tired. Refuel before you hit empty.

  • Breathe evenly while you are chewing and eating. Stop eating if you need to catch your breath. Relax at mealtime.

  • Double or triple your favorite recipes to keep your freezer full for times when you do not feel like cooking.

  • Use prepared foods to save time and energy in the kitchen. Frozen meals, prepared foods or take-out meals from a restaurant can make your life easier. Remember, the sugar, salt or fat content of these foods may be higher than homemade. Be sure to ask if you are following a special diet.

  • Do the tasks that require the most effort when you have the most energy. For example, many people would agree that grocery shopping is a tiring task. This chore can be done when you feel freshest, in the morning or after a rest. Better yet, have a friend or family member pick up your groceries for you!

  • Don't stand in the kitchen when you can sit. Bring your chopping, cutting and mixing projects over to the kitchen table and sit while you prepare the food or keep a barstool by the kitchen counter.

  • Avoid that "too full" feeling is by eating less of the foods that cause gas. The following foods are common offenders. Keep a food diary to find out if they are a problem for you.

    • Asparagus
    • Beans (pinto, kidney, navy, black)
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cabbage
    • Carbonated drinks
    • Cauliflower
    • Cucumbers
    • Melons
    • Garlic
    • Onions (raw)
    • Peas (split, blackeye)
    • Peppers
    • Radishes
    • Rutabagas
    • Sausage
    • Spicy foods
    • Turnips

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