Eating a healthy balanced diet is important for everyone – but especially for those with a chronic condition like haemophilia. This is because people with haemophilia need to ensure they get sufficient nutrients to maintain normal blood volume and blood cell production, while maintaining a healthy body weight.
Teens and children with haemophilia are almost twice as likely to become overweight as the general population. A possible reason for this is that when they have a bleed they are more sedentary than usual and not able to participate in physical activities that burn those excess calories. In people with haemophilia, excess weight can put strain on joints and muscles, increasing the likelihood of bleeds in target joints.
While there is no special ‘haemophilia diet’, the following tips for eating a balanced diet may help keep your body functioning at its best:
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. In general, it’s a good idea to have lots of colour on your plate. For example, dark leafy greens and orange fruits and vegetables contain a lot of vitamins and minerals.
- Eat whole grains. Whole grain foods such as whole wheat, oats, brown rice and bran help to keep you full, are a good source of fibre and can lower cholesterol.
- Choose low-fat dairy products. Dairy products are high in vitamins and minerals and the fat can be avoided by choosing low-fat options.
- Avoid high-calorie snack foods. Check out labels so you have the information you need to avoid snack foods that are high in fat and calories and lack nutritional value.
- Be aware of portion sizes. ‘Portion distortion‘ is common in the modern world and can add a lot of calories to your diet. You can find more information on getting portion sizes right here.
- Avoid high-calorie beverages. Beverages such as soft drinks and fruit juice are a source of excess calories that are often overlooked.
- Consult your Haemophilia Treatment Centre before taking any dietary supplements or herbal remedies. This is because some of these can be harmful for people with haemophilia as they may interfere with clotting or cause prolonged bleeding. Examples include Vitamin E and ginkgo biloba.
You can find more information on healthy eating at the Eat for Health website. Your Haemophilia Treatment Centre should also be able to help advise you on a healthy diet and nutrition that suits your individual needs.