Eating well with a lung condition

How can food affect my symptoms?

If you have a lung condition, a balanced diet can help you to manage your condition better and ease symptoms.

On this page:

I get out of breath when I eat

Sometimes people with lung conditions feel too breathless to eat very much.

Eating and breathlessness

  • If you struggle to chew and breathe when you eat, go for softer, moist foods that are easier to chew and swallow.
  • Try having more nourishing liquids such as milk, smoothies, juice and soups.
  • Breathing can sometimes become harder after eating a large meal. Try eating smaller meals and snacks more often.
  • Take time when you eat. Try to swallow every mouthful before going on to the next.

If you’re losing weight without planning to, you may need a nutritional supplement. Talk to your doctor who may prescribe a supplement or refer you to a dietitian.

My mouth is dry

A dry mouth can be caused by breathing through your mouth, taking inhaled medications and using oxygen.

Managing a dry mouth

  • Make sure you drink enough fluids – at least six to eight cups a day. Ice cold drinks can be refreshing.
  • Eat more soft foods, use more sauces such as gravy and cheese sauce, and eat moist dishes like stews.
  • After using inhalers, remember to rinse your mouth out and gargle with water.
  • Look after your teeth and mouth by brushing your teeth regularly and using dental floss.
  • Try sugar-free gum or mints, frozen grapes, pineapple or orange segments to help you produce more saliva.
  • Smoking and alcohol can irritate a dry mouth. Try to reduce or avoid these.
  • If your dry mouth causes soreness or problems with eating, tell your doctor. They can prescribe products that help you produce saliva.

If you have problems swallowing your food, talk to your doctor. They may refer you to a speech and language therapist for a swallowing assessment.

My sense of taste has changed

A dry mouth often means your sense of taste changes. Experiment with herbs, spices, chutneys and pickles, but don’t add extra salt.

I feel bloated and have trapped wind

If you’re breathless, you may gulp air when you eat. This causes bloating. Talk to your doctor, as bloating is a symptom of many conditions.

Managing bloating and trapped wind

  • Eat in a relaxed environment and sit upright.
  • Don’t rush, and make sure you chew your food well.
  • Try not to have too many fizzy drinks.
  • Watch your salt intake.
  • Cut down on foods that produce more gas such as cabbage, sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and beans.
  • Try using peppermint. It can be taken as a tea, a cordial or a capsule.

Next: How do I maintain a healthy weight? >

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Download our eating well PDF (346 KB)

Last medically reviewed: June 2017. Due for review: June 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.