Are You at Nutritional Risk?
What does it mean to be at "nutritional risk?"
Some physical disabilities may affect a person's ability to consume, digest, or absorb nutrients, which may put a person at nutritional risk. Poor nutritional intake may be due to low income, social isolation, difficulty with mobility/walking, trouble with shopping, buying and cooking foods, depression, physical challenges, or even medications affecting taste. Some of the consequences associated with poor diet (nutritional intake) include increased susceptibility to infection, delayed healing of wounds/open sores, and impaired physical and cognitive function. Additional risk associated with poor nutrition is the possibility of a decrease in the body's ability to metabolize drugs/medications.
Some of the statements below may be warning signs of poor nutritional health. If these are common to you or a loved one, take some time to identify the risk and begin working on correcting the poor intake.
- "I eat fewer than two meals per day."
- "I have three or more drinks of beer, liquor, or wine almost every day."
- "I do not always have enough money to buy the food I need."
- "I eat alone most of the time."
- "I am not always physically able to shop, cook, and/or feed myself."
- "I eat the same foods every day."
- "I do not eat anything on one or more days each month."
- "I eat two vegetables or less daily."
- "I have difficulty chewing or swallowing."
When statements such as above are noted, actions may be necessary to prevent further health complications. Suggestions to improve nutritional intake include:
- Aim for a variety of foods at each meal every day. Try adding a little color so that each meal contains color on the plate which can be achieved with fruit or vegetables.
- Plan to eat three servings of whole grains per day.
- Choose low-fat dairy products at each meal, three servings per day.
- Select foods naturally high in fiber and fortified with vitamins (Vitamin D and calcium).
- Drink plenty of fluids daily, with water being the first choice. Other sources of liquid, in addition to water, are fruit and vegetable juices and milk. Additional good sources of fluids include caffeine-free coffees, teas, and herbal teas.
- Look for liquid food options such as Ensure™ if you are having difficulty consuming sufficient calories.
- Surround yourself with fruit and vegetable options (frozen, canned, dried, pre-washed, and cut) for daily snacks or meals.
- Limit alcohol consumption to one drink or less per day.
- Plan for meals ahead of time, create a grocery list, and prepare foods (additional servings) that can be stored for later meals.
Most importantly, recognize the risks and begin to correct all factors contributing to poor nutritional intake.
Makes 6 servings
- 1 package (10 ounces) fresh spinach, washed and torn
- 2 granny smith apples, chopped (keep the peels on for more fiber)
- 1/3 cup lightly salted cashews
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- Combine the first three ingredients in a large salad bowl.
- Place the vinegar, oil, garlic powder, and celery seed in a jar, cover tightly, and shake vigorously.
- When ready to serve, pour over the spinach mixture, tossing gently.