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Eating Right With Limited Mobility

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

Making Sure You Aren't 'D-ficient'

"Getting enough vitamin D can become more difficult if you are homebound or go out less," Jackson says. If you are not in the sun, your body can't make enough vitamin D -- also called the sunshine vitamin.

Egg yolks are a great source. "Try hard-boiling three eggs per week and you can eat them with meals or for a snack," she says. "A cup of milk can be easy when you are not looking to expend a lot of effort, or a cup of yogurt."

The American College of Rheumatology recommends that anyone taking steroids, especially for more than three months, should be taking a minimum of 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D supplements on a daily basis. These medications, which are commonly used to treat many conditions, including arthritis, can make bones weak and susceptible to fracture. Dairy foods, such as milk and yogurt, are often rich in calcium and milk is usually fortified with vitamin D.

Building a Picture-Perfect Plate

Jackson suggests picturing a plate in which half comprises fruit and vegetables, such as the kind that come bagged, cut, and cleaned; a quarter is filled with a protein source, such as a pouch of tuna or salmon or pre-cooked chicken; and the remaining quarter is a whole-grain starch. "Put a sweet potato in the microwave, or add a high-fiber roll or cracker, or boil a bag of brown rice," she says. "This doesn't take a lot of cooking and could be a very good thing."

Variety is the spice of life, and there is no reason that these meals have to be boring. "There are lots of quick things nowadays with so many pre-packaged, convenient foods like pre-cooked chicken strips, tuna in a pouch, imitation crab, and frozen shrimp, that don't take much cooking or standing in the kitchen," she adds.

Being Savvy About Frozen Meals

Choosing frozen meals and adding frozen vegetables to the dish is a good idea, Jackson says.

"These meals have good portion control when it comes to meat and starch and usually we tell people to open a bag of frozen vegetables, add them to the tray, then put it in the microwave," she says. Voila! Dinner is served.

Reading Up on Resources

"If [patients] can't shop, their ability to get food is limited and may have to order meals-on-wheels, prepared foods, or have the home health aide go to the deli every day. Sometimes the choice is not yours and, as a result, the whole food experience may not be as pleasurable as it was before," Underwood says.

But "meals-on-wheels is wonderful," Underwood says of a program in which hot meals are delivered to your door. "If you qualify, it can be paid by insurance, but you can usually pay privately."

Underwood also recommends looking into local churches that might arrange to have meals delivered, or asking a family member to prepare a week's worth of meals to be kept in the freezer and microwaved as needed. Most large communities have an office on aging or similar agency that can help you find out what's available where you live.

Published Aug. 6, 2004.

Reviewed on September 23, 2005

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