Eating Right With Limited Mobility
Your guide from soup to nuts -- or smoothies, as the case may be.
Making Sure You Aren't 'D-ficient'
"Getting enough vitamin D can become more difficult if you are homebound
or go out less," Jackson says. If you are not in the sun, your body can't
make enough vitamin D -- also called the sunshine vitamin.
Egg yolks are a great source. "Try hard-boiling three eggs per week and
you can eat them with meals or for a snack," she says. "A cup of milk
can be easy when you are not looking to expend a lot of effort, or a cup of
The American College of Rheumatology recommends that anyone taking steroids,
especially for more than three months, should be taking a minimum of 1,000 to
1,500 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D supplements on
a daily basis. These medications, which are commonly used to treat many
conditions, including arthritis, can make bones weak and susceptible to
fracture. Dairy foods, such as milk and yogurt, are often rich in calcium and
milk is usually fortified with vitamin D.
Building a Picture-Perfect Plate
Jackson suggests picturing a plate in which half comprises fruit and
vegetables, such as the kind that come bagged, cut, and cleaned; a quarter is
filled with a protein source, such as a pouch of tuna or salmon or pre-cooked
chicken; and the remaining quarter is a whole-grain starch. "Put a sweet
potato in the microwave, or add a high-fiber roll or cracker, or boil a bag of
brown rice," she says. "This doesn't take a lot of cooking and could be
a very good thing."
Variety is the spice of life, and there is no reason that these meals have
to be boring. "There are lots of quick things nowadays with so many
pre-packaged, convenient foods like pre-cooked chicken strips, tuna in a pouch,
imitation crab, and frozen shrimp, that don't take much cooking or standing in
the kitchen," she adds.
Being Savvy About Frozen Meals
Choosing frozen meals and adding frozen vegetables to the dish is a good
idea, Jackson says.
"These meals have good portion control when it comes to meat and starch
and usually we tell people to open a bag of frozen vegetables, add them to the
tray, then put it in the microwave," she says. Voila! Dinner is served.
Reading Up on Resources
"If [patients] can't shop, their ability to get food is limited and may
have to order meals-on-wheels, prepared foods, or have the home health aide go
to the deli every day. Sometimes the choice is not yours and, as a result, the
whole food experience may not be as pleasurable as it was before,"
But "meals-on-wheels is wonderful," Underwood says of a program in
which hot meals are delivered to your door. "If you qualify, it can be paid
by insurance, but you can usually pay privately."
Underwood also recommends looking into local churches that might arrange to
have meals delivered, or asking a family member to prepare a week's worth of
meals to be kept in the freezer and microwaved as needed. Most large
communities have an office on aging or similar agency that can help you find
out what's available where you live.
Published Aug. 6, 2004.