March is National Nutrition Month and balanced nutritious eating habits are the corner stone of a healthy and happy life. However, according to a 2014 Disability Scoop article people with disabilities may be slipping below the daily nutritional recommendations. It is difficult to know exactly why, but it may be due to a combination of things, such as how different medications a person takes interacts with one another. People with disabilities may also struggle to afford healthy foods.
According to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), even finding accurate information on nutrition and disability can be a real challenge because each person metabolizes foods differently based upon their genes, medications they take, and any medical conditions they have. So, it is very difficult to make nutritional recommendations that apply to everyone. There are some things that you, as a caregiver, or someone you care for can do to adapt healthy eating habits.
- Familiarize yourself with nutritional risks and signs of poor nutrition and then find ways to deal with them.
- Check out this resource from NCHPAD to find ways to adapt healthy eating practices, such as focusing on eating different types and quantities of foods in each meal. Healthy eating patterns also include cutting back on foods with excess sugars and saturated fats, as well as eating less salty foods.
- Visit Self-Advocacy Online’s Healthy Plate This training, which was developed with input from people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD), uses instructional videos and learning exercises to help people with I/DD learn how to eat healthier.
- Learn about MyPlate. This resource, developed by the United States Department of Agriculture, aims to build healthy eating habits through the lifetime by offering ideas and tips to help you create a healthier eating style that meets your individual needs.
- Watch two recorded webinars 1) What’s For Dinner? Planning for Success in Healthy Eating and 2) Putting Nutrition on Your Radar for suggestions on how to improve healthy eating habits for people with I/DD.
- Check out this video series from NCHPAD to learn how to think creatively when trying to stick to nutritional guidelines or special diets.
Remember, eating healthier doesn’t happen all in one day, but making small changes over time can make a big difference in improving overall health.