Eating good, nutritious food and having a proper diet has a life-long positive impact on anyone. And for someone with a disability, food can help improve their condition, help them function better, and give them the needed energy to get through the day.
What Is A Disability?
A disability is a condition that makes it challenging for a person to perform specific activities, giving them certain limitations. The limitation can result from a health condition affecting an individual’s physical and mental capacity. There are many types of disabilities, and here are some of the areas they affect:
– Social relationships
The disability can be acquired through an illness like stroke, spinal cord injury, or traumatic brain injury. One may also be born with it, like most cognitive and learning disabilities.
Giving people with disability access to nutritious food is imperative for their improvement, especially for children, because there’s a long and bright future ahead of them.
It’s a good thing that there are organizations that can assist in this matter. They guide the families of individuals with disabilities on appropriate diets to ensure that their nutrition and health are in check. If you’re curious about these organizations and dietitians, learn more here.
One of the most prevalent health concerns of children with disability is obesity. This is because of the challenges that parents face in giving them food, such as:
– Selectiveness In Eating
Most children with cognitive impairment have an issue with color, smell, texture, temperature, and even brands of foods.
– Disruptive Mealtimes
They may refuse to eat with other people in the house—distracted by devices or the noise around—or may lack interest in eating itself.
– Unique Eating Patterns
They may have a particular ritual in eating or have a preferred order in eating their food, different from the rest of the family.
– They’re Food-Focused
They may sometimes be too fixated on food and the time it is given or may be impatient about the next meal.
– They Have Food And Drink Preferences
Sometimes, they will only eat and drink certain foods and will not allow deviations.
– Lack Of Self-Regulation
They may eat too fast and have a low sense of fullness resulting in the inability to digest food properly.
Human Behavior Around Food – They may be influenced by what they hear around them, like rewards if they eat well and restrictions if they don’t. This can cause stress and anxiety instead of fulfilling the intended purpose.
Medical Issues – Problems with swallowing and chewing can affect their food intake.
Adverse Side Effects Of Medication – They may be taking medications that affect their food intake, like the feeling of being bloated and nauseous.
Caring for someone with special needs may be challenging, and it could take a toll on the one giving care. To help you out, here are some diet and nutrition tips that you may try for people with disabilities:
1- Ditch The Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks are very high in calories and will contribute to many problems along the way. They increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. Unfortunately, they have been the go-to drink of many children today because of their accessibility in the household. When you buy groceries, skip the sugary drink aisle.
2- Stay Hydrated
Water is crucial. That’s also why there’s a recommended number of glasses of water one should drink in a day. Water helps transport nutrients to different body parts, keeps the joints lubricated, and helps send oxygen to the heart and brain.
People with limited mobility must drink plenty of water to prevent muscle spasticity. Spasticity is the involuntary contraction of the muscles because of stiffness and lack of movement, and dehydration can worsen this condition even more.
If the person with a disability doesn’t like drinking plain water, squeezing lemon or lime juice into it and adding a few slices of cucumber will make the water refreshing and more enjoyable to drink.
3- Eat The Rainbow
Preparing colorful fruits and vegetables will make your dining table more attractive and give your family excellent nutrients. Adding variety this way will make mealtime more exciting and fun for everyone.
Incorporating broccoli, carrots, celery, tomatoes, pineapple, squash, bananas, and greens will give everyone numerous health benefits. These are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will help boost their immunity and help with their gut health.
4- Find Time To Enjoy Food
Don’t rush eating. Give the person with a disability ample time to finish their meal at their own pace. Have patience.
5- Give Choices
If the person with a disability has two items in front of them, you’re giving them an option, not just insisting on what you like for them to eat.
6- Target Three Meals And Light Healthy Snacks
Eating small, regular meals creates a predictable pattern, and this is easier to follow for a person with a disability. The chances of them overeating is also less likely. Give them light, healthy snacks, such as yogurt, vegetable sticks with dip, fruits, and nuts in between meals.
7- Make Gradual Changes
Slowly introduce the needed changes, and set your expectations low. If a person with a disability is bombarded by a lot of food choices in front of them, they’ll be more hesitant to comply. So, it’s best to ease in the changes and observe the results.
A person with a disability needs some help to function optimally. Having someone by their side to assist with their nutrition needs is a huge deal. This helps them achieve their potential and steers them away from the bad stuff, which is a step in the right direction.
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