The Importance Of Diet And Nutrition In Managing Chronic Illness

Diet and Nutrition

If your car requires diesel fuel, you wouldn’t fill it up with regular. The same premise applies to your body. People with a chronic illness or disability often require special attention to their diet in order to ensure they receive the nutrients needed to stay at an ideal weight, remain active and maintain healthy bones.

Consider some of the diet and nutrition tips below for some of the more common chronic illnesses and disabilities, as well as what to do if you’re having trouble consuming adequate amounts of nutrients. As always, any diet plan should be discussed beforehand with either your doctor or a nutritionist.

Cancer: Treatments for managing cancer, such as radiation and chemotherapy, can cause a person to have a limited appetite. When this occurs, try to eat small, protein-rich snacks throughout the day. These can include yogurt, soup, cereal with milk or cheese and crackers. When your appetite is normal, look at eat at least two cups of fruits and vegetables per day and limit high-fat foods, especially those from animal sources.

Diabetes: Diets to manage diabetes can often be highly regimented in order to avoid high levels of sugar in the blood, in addition to balancing their meals with insulin and any prescribed oral medications. Aim for foods that are in high in fiber and slow-release carbs that won’t spike your blood sugar, which often involves making minor adjustments. Have whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice and sweet potatoes instead of mashed potatoes.

Heart Disease: The right nutrition plan can not only help prevent further complications from heart disease, but even slow or potentially reverse the narrowing of the heart’s arteries. Cut back on salt and portion sizes while focusing on consuming protein-rich foods like lean meats and fish, as well as fruits and vegetables. You should aim to eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day.

Osteoporosis: Consuming foods rich in calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium and potassium is essential for maintaining bone health. These can include dairy products such as low-fat milk and cheese, fish (salmon in particular), fruits and vegetables.

How To Address Low Appetite

Some chronic conditions can spark a low appetite, resulting in a poor diet and significant weight loss. If you’re finding it difficult to consume the calories you need, there are several options for you to address this.

Nutrition assessment: This can be done by a registered dietician, who will look at your medical history, changes in diet and weight and physical signs of nutrition problems. Once specific issues are found, they will work with you to develop a nutrition care plan that will enable you to either regain your weight or halt any further weight loss.

Stay active: Engaging in physical activity will help increase your appetite. If your condition limits the amount of exercise you can partake it, even just walking up and down the stairs in your home can be beneficial.

Indulge: Sometimes the hardest part about eating is starting. Let yourself indulge in a small serving of ice cream or chocolate before moving on to a more nourishing meal.

Drink Water: Drinking a glass of water an hour before and after meals can aid in digestion and help ensure there isn’t too much food in the stomach at any given time.

Hire outside help: If your diet is poor because it’s difficult for you to shop for healthy items, considering utilizing a home health aide who can shop for ingredients and prepare meals.