Select Page

Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

There are a double handful of things that a COPD patient must do in order to stay as healthy and strong as possible. Ignoring any of them can leave us vulnerable to the dreaded exacerbation. Pneumonia, infections, and the like are lurking out there, just waiting for a weak spot to attack. Today I want to talk about nutrition, most specifically the preparation of the stuff that you eat, or should eat.

Fast food and much of the prepared food that you find on the supermarket shelves is incredibly salty! Those of us who have reached the age of edema, swelling of the extremities, have no need for that much salt. Preparing and cooking your own food will help you avoid it.

For many of us, bending down or reaching up to grab a particular pot or pan is an exhausting experience. So, rearrange your kitchen so that the stuff that you use regularly is within easy reach. That applies to cooking containers, small appliances, utensils and spices. If you cannot guilt someone into setting the table, make sure that the dishes, napkins and placemats are handy.

Beware of loose clothing. It can catch fire easily, resulting in a painful experience.  If you wear oxygen to make your life better, do not be afraid of wearing it while cooking. Just be careful, especially around a gas stove. Think about running the cannula tube down your back. If the nasal part of the tube is in danger of igniting, you are doing it wrong! You might want to stay away from flaming desserts …

Take it slow. Cooking can be, and should be, a pleasurable experience. Never mind that the rest of your family engulfs the results of your labors with never a thought to the subtleties of the flavors. You can still enjoy the delicious food that you have prepared. I learned to cook just a few years ago, and I have pretty well taken over the cooking duties for our household. Wendy’s schedule is such that she cannot plan on the time necessary to organize and cook a meal. Since Mary’s eyesight deteriorated, it is more difficult for her to cook, although she still does.

I have found that I really enjoy cooking! I browse the internet for recipes, and I like trying new things. There are even websites that will come up with a menu based on the ingredients that you have in the house! Just search for “Ingredients on Hand,” and that will lead you to a bunch of sites. Stuff you never thought of …

The first meal that I cooked was Jamaican oxtail soup with Jamaican rice. The recipe  called for ingredients that I had never heard of, and Mary and I had to go to three different stores in Tucson to gather the necessary stuff. It was a crockpot recipe, and it was smelling so good by the middle of the afternoon that I called friends to join us for dinner! They proclaimed it to be delicious, and I was hooked!

You do not have to spend all day cooking. When you produce some gastronomical delight, make too much of it. Refrigerate or freeze the excess for reheating later. That goes for side dishes as well as the main course. Leftovers are generally just as palatable as the original dish, and it will save you a lot of time.

Most importantly, see if you can guilt someone else into cleaning the kitchen!

~ Uncle Jim

Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them. 

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE by visiting or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor. 

When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.