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Arthritis Health Center

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Eating Right With Limited Mobility

Your guide from soup to nuts -- or smoothies, as the case may be.

Harnessing the Power of Protein continued...

So how do you make sure you meet your protein needs?

Tina Freiwald, RD, CDE, at Windber Medical Center in Windber, Penn., suggests the incredible, edible egg. "Eggs get a bad rap, but if you don't have a problem with cholesterol, they are a good source of protein, are soft, so they can chew them as well as cook them very easily," she says.

Tuna and salmon, which are also high in protein, now come in pouches, not just hard-to-open cans, she says. Imitation crabmeat and frozen shrimp are also easy to open and good sources of protein.

You can also get protein and a bonus of calcium from cottage cheese and yogurt -- both of which are easy to chew and open, she suggests. "The less mobility you have, the heavier you [can] get, so calories can still be an issue, and many of these dairy foods come in low-fat varieties, which can be helpful unless you are already not getting enough calories because you are so frail," Freiwald says.

Souping Up Your Diet

"Canned soups can be high in sodium, but dehydrated soups in a cup -- where all you have to do is add water -- are often very health-conscious," says Freiwald.

Look for the words "reduced sodium" when choosing a soup and opt for black beans, lentil, or minestrone. "They are high in fiber, so they help keep your bowels healthy and are also a good source of protein," she says.

Dawn Jackson, RD, a dietitian at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Wellness Institute in Chicago, also suggests high-fiber, high-protein canned kidney and garbanzo beans sprinkled on a salad or low-fat refried beans on crackers or a tortilla.

"These are easy to prepare, tasty, and nutritious as snacks or meals," she says.

Smoothing Out Your Diet

"Smoothies or shakes are useful if you can't chew," says Windber's Freiwald. "You can make a shake with yogurt, soy milk, and fruit so you get dairy in as well as protein and fruit." Other ways to sneak in fruit include applesauce and canned fruit. "Berries that are frozen are great because you can take them out and set them on counter or nuke them and throw them in yogurt," Freiwald says.

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