Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Why COPD Makes My Dad Eat Like a Child

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A small, empty plate. Over the past few weeks, my father has had to change his eating habits.

During lunch and dinner, he was experiencing increased shortness of breath with every bite. An avid eater, he is a stickler for savoring a good dish. He tells me frequently that he was a stick until he met my mom and courted her cooking. That was the beginning of the big belly. Growing up, I dubbed him “The Human Vacuum” because he always ate the leftovers – mine, mom’s, anyone’s. Even to this day, he is ready to pick from my meal. In our home, nothing goes to waste.

My mother insisted that he eat smaller portions, eating more frequently during the day. It takes my father a few days to accept suggestions; I call it his “three-day-delay.”

So in essence, his diet changed to that of a child’s. Instead of eating three meals and snacks, he started eating between 6 to 8 smaller-sized portions, something that is recommended in Step 4 in an Action Set of tips for eating with COPD. (At the end of each step, there is a question to test your knowledge about food interaction and COPD.)  Okay, so if you read the Action Set, it recommends six portions, but this is my father we’re talking about -- the original Hungry Man.

The greatest concern my mother and I had was that he would choke as he gasped for air while chewing or breathing. Regularly, small food particles do get stuck in his throat causing him to cough extensively. His face turns beet red and once water or a piece of bread helps the food flow down his esophagus, he resumes eating until the next episode.

Now that he is eating airline-like portions, his shortness of breath while chewing and eating has reduced significantly. Until this occurred, I didn’t make the connection about the amount of oxygen needed in our dietary process. Then I thought of when I have a cold or allergies and I just can’t breathe through congested nasal passages. It’s the same concept. The difference is a cold eventually goes away. COPD doesn’t.

Here’s another helpful article with 7 Tips to Avoiding Shortness of Breath When Eating

My father may be eating smaller meals, but that big figure modeling contract won’t happen anytime soon.

Big belly and all, he is a man with real curves. 

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About the Author

Elizabeth cares for her mother, a diabetic, and for her father, who suffers from COPD.

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