It’s widely understood that proper
nutrition supports general wellness and disease prevention. But nutrition also
impacts speech, motor skills and much more.
Nutrition recommendations for
individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are similar to
those for the general population, according to the Journal of the Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics. Still, we know the I/DD community often experiences more
challenges than others in meeting such recommendations.
The results can be detrimental. Poor diet can lead to obesity and illnesses
such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension.
with adults who have I/DD by the Montana Disability and Health Program shows
that diet affects many of the most frequently reported secondary conditions,
such as fatigue, weight problems, and constipation or diarrhea. Good nutritional
habits can improve these secondary conditions, prevent obesity and other
illnesses, and positively impact brain development, speech articulation,
behavior, and motor skills.
are 9 easy tips you can use to improve the nutrition in your home.
Eat the rainbow: The more color you
add to your diet in the form of fruit and vegetables, the better for you.
Talking about it as a rainbow may be an easier way to encourage a variety in
your home. Planting a garden and growing your own rainbow may help develop a
Drink lots of water: An
average adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. To start, try
replacing sports drinks and soda with water and keep a pitcher on the dinner
table for easy refills. Don’t like the taste? Squeeze a slice of fresh lemon or
lime to add flavor.
Control sugar, salts and
preservatives: Junk food and artificial ingredients are more difficult for
your organs to process and over time could lead to obesity and other health
conditions. Keep a food journal to bring awareness to the amount of your intake
and work to reduce it.
Know your medication: It’s important to remember that some prescription
medications can interact with certain nutrients. This is especially common with anticonvulsants,
stimulant medications, medications for treatment of gastroesophageal reflux
disease, and antipsychotics. Talk to your healthcare partners and be informed.
Change it up: You may find taking certain steps will
allow people with disabilities more eating independence. Modifying textures, integrating nutritional
supplements and using self-feeding equipment are a few examples. Talk to your
health care partners first to be sure it’s safe for your situation.
Target three meals and regular
By eating smaller, regular meals and healthy snacks, you are creating a
predictable pattern that’s easier to follow and you will be less likely to
overeat. Cheese and crackers, yogurt smoothies, carrots and dip, raisins and
nuts and fresh fruit are all healthy snack options worth considering.
Slow down: By eating slowly, you have more time to
enjoy your food and your body has time to process it. Taking the time to socialize while you eat,
not only helps you slow down, it also allows you to build relationships with
those close to you.
better than one:
Whether meal planning, shopping, or prepping in the kitchen, involve others in
the process. Give choices and create a
weekly menu that all can reference during the week. By being involved, you should
see a greater willingness to try new things at the dinner table.
change: If you slowly
incorporate one tip into your meal planning here and there, and a little more
movement into your daily routine, you might be surprised at what a difference
it makes and how the changes take hold over time.