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Eating Right With Limited Mobility

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

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.

Beefing Up Your B Vitamins

"B vitamins including thiamin, folate, B-6, and B-12 can be hard to get," Northwestern's Jackson says.

"This can be a problem because foods that are rich in these vitamins include green leafy vegetables, fish, poultry, and lean meats that take too much time to prepare, or foods like nuts that are hard to eat if you have trouble chewing," she explains.

For folate, drinking a glass of fortified orange juice "is a down and dirty way to make sure you're getting enough," she says. Tuna or salmon in pouches and/or pre-cooked poultry are also good, user-friendly sources of B vitamins, especially B-6 (not to mention protein!). B-12 comes from eggs and cheese and thiamin is typically found in meat, legumes, grain, yeast, and wheat germ.

"These days, you can buy pre-cooked chicken in a pouch and it's very easy to throw on a bed of pre-cleaned salad greens," she says. A daily multivitamin helps too!

Drinking Your Fill

As people age, fluid intake can become a big problem, largely because we're at an increased risk of dehydration as we get older, Jackson says.

"Some people who have decreased mobility are reluctant to drink adequate amounts because it can be painful to go to the bathroom, but it's important to be conscious of drinking fluid, even if it's cumbersome to go to bathroom," she says.

"Dehydration causes low energy when you are already having energy problems," she says. Aim for as close to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day as you can get.

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