Tools and strategies for managing and improving your food nutrition

18 August 2022
Many Australians struggle to get adequate amounts of nutrition throughout the day, and if you add the challenges of a disability to the equation, this can quickly become harder. 
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Food and nutrition

Money, lack of knowledge about proper nutrition, and unique dietary requirements are some of the barriers people with disabilities can experience when accessing healthy food regularly. It’s also important to consider how disability impacts activity and can lead to an increased risk of disease in our community. 

Firstly, the health challenges people with disabilities face when it comes to nutrition and overall well-being are higher than their able-bodied peers. Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare demonstrate that in 2022 people with disabilities have higher rates of smoking, poorer nutrition and lower rates of physical activity.  

While some of these statistics are understandable in that they can be attributed to the nature of the person’s disability, exploring alternative ways to improve nutrition and lifestyle habits can positively impact health. 

This article will answer some common questions raised by our members to equip you with tools and strategies for managing and improving your food nutrition. 

 

What does a dietician do and when should I see one? 

One way people can improve their diet is by reaching out to a dietician. Dieticians work with their clients/patients to review their diets and offer practical steps to improve nutrition, they can also work with people who have specific or chronic health concerns.  

A dietician is commonly confused with a nutritionist, however, it’s important to note that there are some key differences. According to the Dieticians Australia website, “The dietetic profession is regulated. Most dietitians have graduated with an approved dietetics degree from an Australian university.” In addition, “As a profession, nutritionists aren't regulated and can have limited qualifications.” 

More importantly, if you visit an Accredited Practising Dietician and you have a chronic health condition – you may be eligible for a Medicare and/or NDIS rebate, you can find out more by visiting here

You can find some very general examples of conditions dieticians will treat (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.) However, we tried to find some examples of conditions that might impact the CP community and which dieticians can assist with, these include: 

  • Gastrointestinal issues 

  • Gastroesophageal reflux 

  • Constipation 

  • Underweight 

  • Dysphagia 

  • Nutritional management for medical conditions 

  • Fussy eating (extremely)  

  • Allergies  

If you or your loved one are impacted by any of these conditions, a dietician may be the right fit for you. 

 

What is the Meal & Preparation line item and am I eligible? 

Traditionally, Meal & Preparation has only been available as a line item that needed to be added as a feature to your plan. However, the NDIS has recently included it under core funding. If you are thinking of using this service regularly (e.g receiving weekly Lite n’ easy meals) it might be worth organising a Plan Review with your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) and adding this as a line item. 

This item entitles you to a rebate on meal and preparation but does not cover the cost of ingredients. In most cases, the rebate can cover up to 70% of meal costs, and some services will invoice your provider directly. You can find out more here

 

Where can I access more support for healthy eating? 

At this point, it’s worth exploring who offers meal and preparation items. Fortunately, this is a growing market, several NDIS registered providers can deliver meals to your home. The benefits of these services include: 

  • ready-made meals delivered; no meal prep required 

  • 70% of the cost is returned to the customer 

  • The meals adhere to nutritional guidelines and are low calorie 

  • some providers can offer texture-modified meals (minced/pureed) 

Meal Providers:

 

Why it matters? 

With everything people with cerebral palsy already deal with when it comes to their health, nutrition tends to be overlooked. 

Our Membership and Communications Officer, Natalie offered her own perspective on why health and nutrition is so important. "I find eating healthy and managing my weight is crucial to my mobility. Covid was a particularly challenging time because I found that as I moved less and ate more takeout it had an enormously negative impact on my mobility." 

She adds, "Taking the time to use some of these strategies has allowed me to get back in shape and improve my mobility drastically. I think it's a shame more people in my position don't realise what a powerful tool this can be in maintaining your ability to move and walk as long as you can." 

Check out more resources:

  • My CP Guide: this is an online resource with information on different health resources. Find out more here  

 

Looking for more tips on health and nutrition? Call our Telehealth Nurse, Amy, on (03) 9478 1001 or email cpsn@cpsn.org.au

 

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