This month we celebrated ‘Smart Eating Week’ 2020. So, when it comes to food and nutrition do you know how to make the right choices for you? What about supporting your participants to make the right food choices for them? How can we eat smarter, without working harder?

Eating well is key to feeling your best but we are all unique, with our own different goals, lifestyles and challenges. Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is particularly important for those living with a disability and at times it is particularly challenging.

Our diet however is so much more than the calories or nutrients we consume. It is a part of our culture, how we socialise, how we celebrate and how we care for ourselves and others.

Throughout my time working as a dietitian within the disability sector, I frequently get asked ‘what’ to eat but perhaps it’s time we start to look more at ‘how’ we eat?

Do we share our meal in the company of others or in front of the TV?

Are we eating mindfully? Are you paying attention to the smell, taste and texture of the dish?

Are we eating because we are hungry or because we’re stressed, bored or tired?

Are we role modelling healthy food choices in front of our participants?

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean dieting or giving up the foods we love. For many people, eating smart means finding the balance between enjoying food without compromising your health or undermining your goals (or those of your participants). It is facilitating conversations about health, ensuring access to nourishing food and creating an environment that fosters healthy food choices. If we are thinking about how we eat, if we encourage participants to make small changes to everyday food choices that are meaningful to them, we are on the right track to finding that balance.

Not sure where to start?

Try these 3 simple tips to get you started:

  1. Plan to eat meals without the distraction of technology – pay attention to what you and your participants are eating.
  2. Improve hunger awareness – what physical cues does our body give us when we are hungry? What about when we are satisfied?
  3. Be a role model! Plan for healthy meals for both yourself as well as participants when accessing the community.

Blog written by Rebecca Lancaster, Accredited Practising Dietitian.