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What Should I Eat and Drink Before Donating Blood

Updated on January 19, 2009

Donating or giving blood is a wonderful thing to do. It saves lives and helps people who need transfusions due to surgery, accident, and other tragic events. You can donate blood once every two months and it can make a huge difference in some one's life.

While it isn't necessary to eat or drink different things, it can be helpful to do so. With the right foods and drinks you can find that you will be more likely to be able to donate, your donation will go quicker, and you are more likely to feel better afterward.  

Making Sure You Can Donate

There are two major reasons your diet can effect your ability to donate. The biggest one is your iron levels. The most common reason people who wish to donate are turned away is because they are low on iron. Eating iron rich foods the day (or even two or three days) before you donate blood can make sure that your iron levels are sufficient for donation. Some good iron rich foods include:

  • Bread, Muffins, and Cereal.
  • Organ Meats, Shellfish, Red Meats, Fish, and Poultry.
  • Seeds and Nuts, Beans, and Eggs.
  • Watermelon, Strawberries, and Bananas.
  • Raisins, Dates, Prunes, Figs, and Dried Apricots.
  • Prune Juice, Tomato Juice, and Apple Juice.
  • Dark Leafy Greens.
  • Pizza (cheese or pepperoni), Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, Beef or Bean Burritos or Tacos. 

Another reason you might not be able to donate blood is that the lipids (fats) in your blood are too high. A low-fat diet the day before and the day of your donation will make it easier for you to have the correct number of lipids in your blood. Your diet doesn't have to be perfect, but it should contain fats only in moderation.  

Making Sure Your Donation Goes Quickly

Donation isn't hard to do, but it will go quicker if you have a lot of fluids in your system. You will be more hydrated, your veins will be easier to find, and your blood will flow better. You should drink a lot of water and other fluids. You shouldn't drink alcohol, soda, or a lot of caffeine. On the other hand, several people who donate regularly say that drinking lots of grape juice helps make it move the fastest. Having a fair amount of sugar in your blood will also make it easier for your blood sugar to stay level during and after donation.  

Feeling Good After Donation

The average adult has 10-12 pints of blood. You will be giving 1 pint during your donation. 1/10-1/12 of your blood supply will be drained out. This is quite a bit. For some they don't even notice. Others get dizzy and feel tired afterwards. Eatting well before you go can make it easier for you to be one who feels good after donation.

Make sure you drink lots of fluids the day before as well as the day of your donation. This will make it easier for you to feel fine before you give blood.

It is also important not to skip meals the day you are donating blood. Eat a good breakfast and or lunch before you go and give blood. You can also have a small snack before you go if it has been awhile since you have eaten.

Most of the time, you will be offered cookies, crackers, and juice afterward. Take the at least one thing offered and drink some water before leaving the testing site. This will make it easier for you to feel a little better. If you feel really bad, make sure you tell someone so they can offer advice and check to make sure you are okay.  

Giving blood saves lives. Eating well and drinking lots of fluids before hand will make the processes easier for you. All in all, it will take about 30 minutes. It is a good idea to make an appointment ahead of time if you are in a hurry (in case they are busy). Remember, you can give blood every 56 days!  


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  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 7 years ago


    As long as you have normal periods then you shouldn't have any problems. Just make sure that you have a snack and drink plenty of water. As for fainting, the snack and water will help. If they make you carry your own bag don't check it out, talk with the nurses (they are usually very kind and reassuring), and try your best to relax.

    (I am sorry my comment is a little late, but I answered it for others who might have the same questions).

  • profile image

    TheCourt 7 years ago

    Im donating blood for the first time tomorrow and im very scared. Mostly because im on my period. Ive looked on line and people say that this wont interfear with anything other than possibly lowering my iron level. Is this true?

    I hope everything goes according to plan. Another thing, i faint very easily, any advise for this???

  • profile image

    Ramesh Katike 7 years ago

    Just before, I have donated blood and I won't feel any changes health wise except a slight tiredness for only sometime.All the things we need to keep in mind is not to go for rumours. It's really good to donate the blood and nothing will happen.

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 7 years ago

    @Bee...I remember my first time, I was pretty darn nervous. Actually I get a little nervous every time even though I have done it plenty of times!

    Take a deep breath and try to put it out of your mind. It will all go well and it is actually surprisingly easy! You will do wonderful, just eat some good foods and drink plenty of water. You can give blood without doing these things, but they will make it so that you don't really feel the donation.

  • profile image

    Bee 7 years ago

    It's my first time giving blood and I'm super nervous, what do I do to calm myself?

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 7 years ago

    Hey Knight...I missed your post, but I hope that all went well and that you will be donating again!

  • profile image

    knight 7 years ago

    hey am 18 years old i weight about 67-80 kgs am donating blood tomorrow i just read this article and its more than great please wish me luck guys

  • gajanis786 profile image

    gajanis786 7 years ago

    Great, very useful I am a regular blood donor I can see all these tips are very important for safety precautions.Thanks.

  • profile image

    Jasmine 7 years ago

    the grape juice really did help speed the process along. the man who took my blood was amazed it only took about 4 minutes to get a pint of blood. aidenofthetower thanks for posting all this information!

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 7 years ago


    First I want to thank you for giving blood again even after the first time not being so great.

    Usually if you feel lightheaded afterward it is because you either don't have enough fluids or you didn't eat well before hand. Definitely eat well for a couple of days first and make sure you are also getting a lot of fluids for those two days. Eat a good breakfast and if it has been an hour or so since you ate breakfast have a light snack before going in.

    Afterward, take your time getting up and around. If you let the nurses know what happened last time they will help you. Make sure you eat a snack and have some more fluids after giving.

    With these precautions you should do much better. I ended up feeling really yucky the first time I gave as well and followed these tips to feel better for the other times I have given.

    Good luck!



  • profile image

    Taylor 7 years ago

    I am giving blood on the eighth and this will be the second time I have given blood. The first was during a blood drive at school and afterwords I was very light-headed and I ended up getting sick. I think it might have been because I hadn't had much of breakfast/didn't drink a lot of fluids before-hand. But I'm wondering if it could have been anything else? I also got very light-headed after I had lunch a few hours later. I'm hoping someone can give me some advice so the same thing doesn't happen again.

  • profile image

    Amy Moore 7 years ago

    Hi I am donating blood tomorrow, thanks for all of the help, just reading the post made me feel better about. It also made me understand that it is a great gift to give during the holidays!


  • profile image

    sanju 7 years ago

    i'm going to donate blood tomorrow, i used to do it before, but it has been some time now, i'm feeling good about it, this is the first time i'm reading all about preparing before denoting, i was healthy before, fit n fine ,now i've put on a lot of weight but thanks to all the information, i'm drinking a lot of water n eating well. Thanks for all the information.

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 7 years ago

    I always seem to respond to these too slowly. However, for anyone else who is interested...

    -Being on birth control doesn't prevent you from donating blood. The only thing related to that, that would prevent you from giving blood is being pregnant.

    Any for all of you who are will be okay, it will go well, and you aren't alone!

  • profile image

    Eegankay 7 years ago

    Tomorrow I'm donating blood for the first time at age 16 and I weigh 117 pounds. All of the information on this site has been very helpful and insightful. Thanks a bunch aidenofthetower and I hope all goes well tomorrow (I'm a bit nervous).

  • profile image

    Torres 7 years ago

    Im 16 years old and am gona give blood on school has a blood drive every soo scared..i read the information they give..soo scared.. and i was trying to find out if you could give blood while on brith control?? hum...

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 7 years ago depends on what is wrong. Many who have tired blood are anemic (low iron) and would not be allowed to donate. It should also be mentioned that if you are experiencing exhaustion or chronic fatigue you and you donated you are likely to have a hard time recovering. For your own sake then it is best not to donate.

  • profile image

    duma 7 years ago

    can someone with tired blood donate?

  • gajanis786 profile image

    gajanis786 7 years ago

    Very nice hub....this should encourage everyone at least all the hub pages readers to acquire this habit of donating blood frequently as it not only saves others lives but it is also very helpful for the donor itself as by donating blood our body can make fresh blood which is good for the body in many ways. Have a nice day.

  • profile image

    weightlifter grrl 7 years ago

    Nani - yes, you may donate. I weigh 226 pounds and I donate several times a year.

  • profile image

    Nani 8 years ago

    i weight almost 252 pounds can i donate?

  • profile image

    Kelly 8 years ago

    Thank you so much! Tomorrow is my first time donating, I think last time I was rejected because I didn't weigh enough and didn't have enough iron. I am so glad I've been eating plenty of breads and muffins/bagels, among a lot of the other foods you listed.

    Tomorrow, also I am having a potluck in class. Would it be okay if I ate in moderation, or are there some foods I should avoid? I'm REALLY trying not to get rejected this time, I'm going to barely make the weight requirements and this week I've been on a pretty strict healthy diet.

  • profile image

    lala 8 years ago

    thank you for posting this very helpful site ma'am. i am assisting in running a blood drive at my school, and i am hoping your tips help to ease the nerves of the students who are donating. thanks!

  • profile image

    Rok 8 years ago

    For those with fine running veins like mine, do more arm exercises a few days prior to the donation date so that the veins get more prominent plus drink lots of liquids. Most important, informed the phelobotomist the type of veins that you have so that they will get the most skilled of them to do the actual extraction for you, painlessly and with little risk of bruising. In my case, sometimes the phelobotomist has to stand and hold on to the syringe to prevent any backflow of the extracted blood. Usually, if you informed them in advance these nurses at the bllod bank are more prepared. Fine running veins are a challenge but that should not be a reason for them to turn you away when you have fulfilled all other blood donation criteria. Do donate blood coz its beneficial for your own heart and general well-being!

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 8 years ago


    Those of us with O negative blood are very valuable as donors because our blood can be given to anyone in need (it doesn't react with other blood types). This means that if you would like to donate again you should definitely try.

    There are a number of reasons that this could happen. As long as you were well hydrated it could be because your veins are small (though this is rather unlikely cause it got started) or that the nurse didn't get it lined up well and the needle went through the vein.

    As long as you are wanting to try again wait until there isn't a bruise and head on back. You will only know if your veins were the problem or if it was the nurse after they have tried a couple of times. However, it sounds like something that will not be an issue every time.

    Good Luck.

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 8 years ago

    Fear of donating is very common. However, there is nothing logical to be afraid of. This of course doesn't really help. However, keeping that in mind I think your best bet for trying to relax and get past it is to do a little meditation. Before you go pick out a favorite place in your mind. Aim for something warm and relaxing to you. Take some deep breaths and go. It isn't always easy but try to keep your relaxing image in your mind. Some places will make you carry your bag and other equipment around with you before the blood drawing process. If that is the case, don't look at it, but instead concentrate on staying relaxed. Take deep breaths and focus on them. You can do this. Each time you do, it will get easier. You should also keep in mind that a lot of people are nervous, you aren't alone!

  • profile image

    carrie 8 years ago

    i am an o negative blood type. i just attempted donating blood. it was unsuccessful. i ate a good breakfast and drink plenty of fluids all day. after a few seconds of the blood flowing, it stopped! i told the phlebotomist i have ice in my veins, what happened is beyond me. now do i attempt this again, and how long do i wait?

  • profile image

    hello 8 years ago

    im giving blood tomorrow and im really scared bout it. how can i get rid of some of those fears

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 8 years ago

    Countrygal...while I know it is too late to really answer your question I am going to for others who might be wondering about it.

    The 110 pound limit has a lot to do with safety. If you are over it and everything else is good then they will accept you. However, if you have low iron or they have another health concern they will politely refuse to let you donate. Know that they are keeping your health in mind as if you want to try to donate that's great, but they aren't going to let you if they think that there will be a problem.

    All in all, donation is safe and the staff that run locations for donating blood are friendly, kind, and concerned about you as well.

  • profile image

    countrygal 8 years ago

    I weigh 111 pounds and I'm a little worried about giving blood tomorrow. The Red Cross comes to my school twice a year, and this is the first year I have been old enough to donate. I will still be okay, though, right? Even though I'm barely over 110 pounds??

  • Daddy Paul profile image

    Daddy Paul 8 years ago from Michigan

    What a wonderful topic and a nice article.

  • profile image

    Nisha shan 8 years ago

    Really interesting as it is necessary to take nutritious food before donating blood. Thanks for sharing an informative hub.

  • HWP profile image

    HWP 8 years ago from my own world

    I've given blood for years, and agree that staying well hydrated before donating, and making sure to have a sit down and a cup of tea (or glass of juice) and biscuit before you head off will make the whole process run smoothly. There is no need to rush off once your donation is taken, no-one is going to impose a time limit on you, they want you to leave feeling well and happy.

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 8 years ago


    Fluids are very important for keeping yourself hydrated, which can in turn cause your veins to be small. I would suggesting spending a few days making sure you are definitely getting enough fluids before you try again. It could be that you were dehydrated causing your veins to be smaller then they normally would. However, it could also be that you naturally have small, light colored, or hard to find veins which would in turn make it impossible to give blood. Try again and find out what they say. If you are confused by what they tell you, ask for clarification or if there is anything you can do to increase your likeliness of being able to give.

    Good Luck,


  • profile image

    Sarah 8 years ago

    I was told that my veins were too small to give blood. I had only drank one bottle of water and one bottle of fruit punch. If I drink more water before giving blood again, then can I donate? I still don't understand.

  • aidenofthetower profile image

    aidenofthetower 9 years ago


    Yes...the only time that weight limits your ability to donate is if you are under 110 pounds and that is because recovery is harder.

  • profile image

    sasha 9 years ago

    can you donate blood if you weigh 200 pounds ?

  • profile image

    kaymen 9 years ago

    Very well written information pertinent and helpful.

  • Lgali profile image

    Lgali 9 years ago

    very nice tips

  • einron profile image

    einron 9 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

    Thanks for the tips.


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