Healthy Tips for Wheelchair Users

Jun 12, 2018

When we eat well, we can’t deny that we feel the physical and emotional benefits of exactly what we are consuming. But for wheelchair users, working off that extra piece of cake can be a little trickier. Staying healthy, on top of everything else we have to manage, can feel a little overwhelming. But managing your diet well, has a whole variety of health benefits. From improving our physical strength, to helping our digestion. If you are feeling you need a little extra motivation to improve your health, here are some healthy tips for wheelchair users:

Managing your diet is key if you are a wheelchair user.

It cannot be simpler than the old saying which says, ‘you are what you eat’. But with so much information out there and a new fad diet every week, it can be easy to forget that the word ‘diet’ doesn’t mean cutting out whole food groups. Or replacing the contents of your kitchen with celery. The word ‘Diet’ literally translates to ‘the foods we habitually eat’. Changing our diet, or adjusting it, should be a long-term goal that introduces balance. And balance includes good and bad.

  • Make a food diary for a week and see what bad habits you can try adjust. Such as switching all your drinks to just water. Cutting out juice and replacing it with a fresh fruit salad.

Finding exercises that work for you

Alongside a healthy diet, a regular and efficient dose of physical activities needs to be done in order to ensure the regulation of our internal systems. For many reasons, even for people who have the use of their legs, much of our time is spent stationary. An injury, a progressive illness, a full-time job. These all contribute to sitting more and doing less. Contrary to what suffices as a healthy lifestyle and potentially, resulting in a plethora of illnesses. The less we do, the worse we feel. The average person can manage their diet and weight by adding an extra jog to their weekly routine but healthy tips for wheelchair users proves a little harder. However, the first step to a healthier lifestyle is to look at what we are eating and making sure our mental health is on par to our physical.

  • add one or a few weight training regimes to your weekly routine

Managing our mental health is as important as our physical health

They say that the stomach is called ‘the little brain’. New research has suggested that what we eat, can directly affect our mood, our appetite and of course, our health. We experience butterflies in our stomach. During emotional periods in our life, we can lose or gain an appetite. Our gut alone, has over 100 million cells. What we put in our second brain, can directly affect our emotional health. This means, our diet is as important as how much we move our bodies.

Physical appearance can often be prioritised over our mental health. Typically, many people result in extreme measures to look physically good. Looking physically good in today’s society essentially entails the need to lose weight or get fit. And get fit fast. As a result, many people decide to adopt measures which reduce the intake of food on a daily basis whilst, simultaneously, increasing physical exertion. This is a completely wrong approach. Cutting calories may help you lose weight but what about our emotional health? Extreme changes to a diet can be at the expense of your emotional wellbeing. Does a low-calorie diet and an excessive physical regime make you a ‘healthy’ person?

Are you eating enough vitamins, minerals and fibre?

Our bodies require an ample amount of fats and carbohydrates to function. It also needs a lot of minerals to replace and replenish nutrients in our cells. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of minerals, vitamins and natural fibres. Nuts, olive oil, meat (chicken, fish, tuna), dairy and eggs will provide the protein and fats your body needs. All of this is easily accessible and affordable. But making healthy meals taste as exciting as a Friday night pizza, requires some hefty thought and planning.

During the implementation of a new diet, balance is key. The body needs a fair share of both a healthy portion of intake and a well-planned workout. An ideal routine would involve a 45-minute workout at the start of the day. Healthy tips for wheelchair users includes hiring a PT to create a one-to-one workout designed just for you. Focusing on weight training and core strength. After a morning workout, stick to a healthy breakfast and small portioned snacks. A protein-rich plate for lunch followed by a handful of dry nuts and a cup of detox tea. And a small meal for dinner at least 3 hours before going to bed. Seeing as our bodies are made up of 65% water, it is key to drink plenty of fluids. A minimum of 1.5 litres of water is recommended.

To get inspired or motivated to stick to a new regime, save recipes you see on Instagram or Facebook. Make a Pinterest board of nutritional plates that look more inviting than your usual meals.

Here’s more healthy tips for wheelchair users:

  • Set small intentions to get your week going, such as a leisurely roll outdoors.
  • Try switching up your physio routine to get it done first thing in the morning, which might mean you find more time to do it again later in the day.
  • Add an extra vegetable to each of your meals (including breakfast!)
  • Introduce a 10-minute core-workout before your morning cup of tea.
  • Try having breakfast outdoors.  Even getting outside into the fresh air for 15 minutes will reinvigorate your mind.
  • Try adding weight training to your daily routine.

Talk through any of your intentions with your care assistant. Having an extra person on board could help you stick to your goals. If they do your shopping or cooking, making them aware of what you’re trying to achieve can help you have more control over your diet. They may have some more ideas on how to switch up your routine to get outdoors and moving. The more you do, the better you’ll feel.