Nutrition is a key essential to living a happy and healthy life. However, with a busy lifestyle some children might be missing out on the nutrition they need to be their very best. Children with Cerebral Palsy tend to require more time to eat than others. When you are only allotted a certain amount of time, like at lunch time at school or a rushed dinner between errands, children may miss out on being able to eat the proper amount of food and nutrients needed to survive. Here are some ways that you can ensure that your child is getting everything they need.
Talk to your doctor about setting up an appointment for an assessment with a nutritionist. A nutritionist can help develop a diet specifically for your child. They can run a series of tests to see what your child needs in his or her diet and will make recommendations about eating methods, correct calorie intake and foods that will give your child the proper nutrition they deserve.
Setting an eating schedule and sticking to it is a way to ensure that your child has enough time to eat properly. Allow at least 30 minutes for each meal to be eaten. This does not include food prep time! Setting aside a proper amount of time each day will give them enough time to actually enjoy and savor each meal. Rushing through each meal which will only end up feeling like a chore.
As the saying goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Make it easy on yourself and keep stress at a minimum by planning and preparing food way before its meal time. Set a time aside each week to make all food and meals ahead of time that your child will be eating for the next couple of days. Meal prep will grant you the ability to take a good hard look at what your child is eating. You can examine and make sure that every food group requirement is being met.
Meal prep lets you have more free time in the end. When you cook and pre-chop your meals in batches you are taking time off of every night from slaving in the kitchen. All you have to do is grab one of the pre-made meals from the fridge, throw it in the microwave if you have to and you are good to go!
Here are some excellent ideas for meal prep:
Greek yogurt with cut up fresh fruit (berries, melon or apples)
Cut up veggies with hummus (carrots or peppers)
Mashed sweet potatoes and ground turkey
Chopped up salmon and brown rice
Make Every Meal Matter
Malnourishment is an issue that 35% of children with cerebral palsy face. This is due to feeding difficulties and oral motor dysfunction. Due to the challenges that some children with cerebral palsy face when eating, make every meal and every bite count by packing their meals with the calories and vitamins they need.
Children need to eat three meals and two snacks a day. Do not let those meal times be a waste, use it to your advantage on filling them up with the right things.
Vitamins and Minerals
Fruits and Vegetables –Berries, melon, bananas, pineapple, potato, broccoli, carrots, spinach etc.
Meat and Dairy- Chicken, fish, milk, yogurt, etc.
Grains, Nuts and Seeds- Rice, oats, pasta, whole-wheat bread, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, chia seeds, etc.
Processed foods hold little nutritional value, will fill children’s tummies up with empty calories and can create brain fog.
Candy, chips, white rice, fast food, soft drinks, etc.
Want more information on nutritional assessments and meal planning? Call MyChild™ at (800) 692-4453 and ask for the free Nutrition, Diet and Feeding Guide we offer.