When Moveable Feast began in 1989 in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, treatment options were limited, not terribly effective and often costly. As such, it was not uncommon for a person who was diagnosed with HIV to have the disease go unchecked. As the virus replicates, in addition to weakening one’s immune system, it puts a greater demand on the body for calories, protein and other nutrients.
When this happens, individuals often suffer from muscle and fat wasting and malnutrition. Thus, historically, registered dietitians often focused on prescribing these individuals with a high calorie, high protein diet.
While there is still not a cure for HIV, the treatment options have come a long way in the past 30 years. HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), a customized combination of different medications, has changed what was once a fatal diagnosis into a chronically managed disease, which means those with HIV are living longer lives and are subject to the same comorbidities as the general population. Although the nutrition intervention that is provided has changed, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that asymptomatic HIV positive individuals meet with a registered dietitian (RD) at least twice a year to help them manage side effects of their medications, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of comorbidities.
When Kayla* started on service with Moveable Feast, she knew she needed to make some changes. She acknowledged that she wasn’t making herself or her health a priority, and that she needed to make better choices to help her lose some weight. Kayla had struggled with weight loss previously. Her previous attempts were with the use of fad diets, and she was looking for something more sustainable.
When she first met with the dietitian, in April, shortly after starting service, she reported that she really enjoyed the Moveable Feast meals and appreciated how they were split up. By the end of her session with Ilene (RD) they had set goals. One of them was make her other meals more balanced, like the Moveable Feast meals. Kayla’s other goal was centered on getting in daily physical activity.
She met with Ilene again about six months after her first visit, and Kayla had lost 70 pounds! She was very happy about her progress and reported that she feels differently; she has more energy and a very positive outlook on life. Kayla said that eating the Moveable Feast meals has not only taught her about balance, but that it has also helped her listen more to her body about when she is actually hungry and full. She was excited about recertifying because she feels like they have made such a difference for her.
*Name has been changed for the privacy of the client.
(Client starting weight: 275 pounds, current weight 205 pounds)