Making choices about your food, drink and dining experience means you can consume the foods you want, in the way you want, however people sometimes have difficulty making healthy food choices. As a healthy diet is important for health and wellbeing, it can help to establish good habits. If you or your loved one is living with a disability, it is can be helpful to follow nutritional guidelines such as the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, to help you get the best health outcomes and live well.
Nutrition for People with Disabilities
People with disability sometime have specific food, fluid and nutrition requirements. On top of supporting growth, development, and immunity, their physical, intellectual, and sensory needs must be addressed, too.
In addition, living with a disability can also put the individual at a higher risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis which can hinder independence and create additional activity limitations. Ensuring proper nutrition helps to maintain immune system function, which can positively impact overall health and wellbeing.
Overcoming the challenges to achieve optimal nutrition for people with disability
Here are some of the common challenges that people with disabilities can sometimes face in making healthy choices, potentially leading to health issues:
- Increased food selectivity – Some people living with disability may be more selective in terms of texture, smell, colour, temperature, and appearance of food which may contribute to an unbalanced diet.
- Access to medical care – Having an intellectual disability can make it difficult to gain access to adequate medical care, as well as to work with health providers who can meet their individual’s requirements.
- Medications – Taking certain medications may also affect nutrition, appetite, and dietary choices, especially if they cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation/diarrhoea, and changes in appetite.
- Lack of knowledge – Some individuals with disability may be unaware of the impact of good nutrition and its role in helping to improve quality of life.
Whilst improving nutrition for people with disabilities can involve certain challenges, the good news is, you may be eligible for support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). If you are living with a disability or taking care of a loved one, here is some information that you may find helpful:
- Participants who require assistance with the way they eat and improving knowledge of their dietary needs may be eligible for nutrition support.
- Dietitians or meal planning support with Core and Capacity Building NDIS funds may be available for NDIS participants to create a nutritional meal plan and train people to support participants.
- Participants who need help to manage their nutrition may be able to access NDIS funding for products like nutritional supplements, thickener products and/or a support worker to help manage special feeding.
- Funding for disability-related health supports directly related to a participant’s significant or permanent disability may be provided by the NDIS.
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Good nutrition for people with disabilities is important as it provides great benefits and improvement on overall health and wellbeing. Despite challenges to good nutrition, there are supports available to help overcome them and help you live a healthy lifestyle, as well as make good food choices.
If you or a loved one live with a disability, it can be helpful to explore the support available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Enquire about Living My Way’s disability support services today, so we can help you get on with a life of independence and freedom.