Eating well when you’re living in a wheelchair.
Life in a wheelchair can be full of obstacles. You’ve got to find ramps while others take the stairs, opening doors is no easy task, and a minor hand injury can be disastrous for your ability to get from point A to point B. If you’re not careful, living in a wheelchair can cause you to put on some extra pounds and face some other unwanted health issues.
Whether you’ve been wheeling around in a wheelchair from birth or you find yourself in a wheelchair temporarily or permanently after an injury, watching what you eat will help you maintain your good health for years to come. So how should you eat when life has you in a wheelchair?
Go for Less
Unless you stay exceptionally active in your wheelchair, you’re at risk for burning fewer calories each day than your non-wheelchair-using counterparts. This is especially true if you work a desk job. That said, you’re going to have to trim the amount of calories you consume each day to ensure you’re not eating more than you burn.
To do this, you’ll need to master your cravings. Pay careful attention to what your body is telling you and understand that you don’t always need food when you think you do. Instead of grabbing a bite to eat at the first hint of hunger, grab a glass of water. And when you’re at a restaurant, don’t eat anything until you’ve tossed half your meal in a to-go box. Eat slowly, and you’ll find that these smaller portions are plenty to fill you up and give you the energy to get through your daily routine.
Over time, your taste buds may have developed a liking for red meat and prepackaged foods. However, you’re going to have to retrain yourself to eat these foods sparingly and get gung-ho for fresh fruits and vegetables instead. Important as eating fruits and veggies is for anyone and everyone, they’re even more important if you’re confined to a wheelchair.
On top of improving your heart and kidney function and keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level, fruits and vegetables play vital roles in your muscles’ ability to contract properly and your nerves’ ability to function well. As living in a wheelchair can impede nerve function and muscle contraction, consuming plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits is a safe way to protect against nerve and muscle issues, while improving your overall health.
Skip the Fat
If you’re a meat eater or can’t say no to cake every single day, you’ll need to go with the low-fat versions of your favorite foods. Cooking hamburgers or steaks on the grill? Go with the leanest meat you can find, and watch the size of your portions.
Throwing a party and just have to try out your favorite sweet? Don’t be afraid to go for it. But make it healthier by substituting fattening ingredients for more waist-friendly ones. When you’re wheeling yourself up a hill or hoisting yourself into your chair, a few extra pounds makes daily life in a wheelchair much more difficult. Improve your ability to stay mobile by trimming the fat from your meat and getting a smaller portion of cake or pie.
Working It Out
Do you spend the majority of your time in a wheelchair? There are still some exercises you can probably do with relative ease. To keep your body in the best possible shape, try the following exercises on a daily basis:
- Bicep Curls – Begin with your arms hanging straight down by your side. Slowly bend your arms at the elbow, raising your hands to your shoulders. Hold for a moment and return to the starting position. If possible, hold dumbbells or a barbell.
- Sitting March – Sitting in your wheelchair or on any chair, raise your legs toward the sky, one leg at a time. Perform the motion as if you are walking in place.
- Take a Walk – If you’re able to walk, spend a little time each day walking around your house. Use a walker or crutches for support if necessary. Can’t get out of your chair? Push yourself around your house or your neighborhood.