Tag Archives: spinal cord injury diet

SCI Health Series: Paralyzed? What You Eat Matters

Eating healthy is critical to your health as a person with paralysis. From organic foods, farm to table, eating locally to changing your diet to vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, there are many avenues to choose from in your quest to eat healthy. And the results are undeniable. From better skin, organs that function better, to sleeping better and stronger bones, the food you eat can determine your quality of life, especially after a SCI.

When you eat consciously and begin to look at food as medicine, you can combat impending healthy problems in an amazing way. Trying to change how you eat isn’t always easy. There are a handful of things you need to remember when eating healthy with a SCI. Read our list covering the basics below!

Drink Water, All Day Long

A side effect of a spinal cord injury is a neurogenic bladder, so keeping your bladder in great shape is a must. Drink up to 8 cups a day to keep your bladder flushed and sediment-free, and if you need help drinking all that water, many will heat up their water. Others use fruit to flavor their water, a lime or lemon twist is a great alternative to water flavoring. Also, try to avoid drinking soda and alcohol on a regular basis. Both dramatically lessen the quality of your skin due to their low water-content. Water is good for you in all kinds of way.

Have Enough Protein Each Day

You hear it all the time, but eating enough protein each day really is a big deal. It helps you feel full and it helps heal the body, especially any wounds or open sores, so it’s important to increase your protein levels when battling a pressure sore (or one that may be starting up). But make sure it’s lean. Whether it’s hard boiled eggs, string cheese, turkey, chicken breasts, protein powder in anything (smoothies) or a basic lean steak, try to fit as much protein you can into your diet each day.

Load Up on Fruits & Vegetables

Start looking at fresh fruits and veggies like they’re the most important multivitamin you take. From greens to tomatoes, the vitamins and minerals we derive from food (Vitamin C, D, K, calcium, iron, etc) can really improve your overall state of health if you’re paralyzed. Super foods to consider eating each day are kale, avocados, blueberries, sweet potatoes, garlic, beets, but really anything fresh in the fruit or veg department is great for the body.

Healthy Carbs vs. Evil Carbs

The type of carbohydrates you eat are important when you’re paralyzed. For example, instead of eating white bread or white rice, go for wheat bread or brown rice, or even nuts are an alternative. You will get the energy carbs give, without the empty calories. Another fun alternative to a regular carbohydrate we all eat – beets chips instead potato chips (available at most grocery stores nowdays). Note: Changing the carbs you eat can make a huge difference on your bowel program as well.

Limit Sugar Intake

It’s critical to a lower your sugar intake after a spinal cord injury. Many people who become paralyzed can sometimes develop hypoglycemia or even early-stage diabetes (if they begin to put on weight after their injury), so try not to eat too many sugar-laden foods or drinks. Sugar has a tendency to pack on the pounds. And if you must use sugar, buy organic honey for your home to use as an alternative.

Lastly, we know it’s a struggle to eat healthy with all the stresses paralyzed life brings. We recommend meal planning – where you cook all of your food on Sunday, and then put it in food containers to be consumed over the next 3 to 4 days (Pinterest has great tips on this!). If you need help, ask a family member, friend or caregiver to assist you. No matter how much work it is or seems, don’t let it stop you. The power that eating healthy has on your daily well-being is priceless.

How do you eat healthy with a spinal cord injury?

Learn more: Web Links

Nutrition and Spinal Cord Injury, Veterans Association

You Are What You Eat: Nutrition After a Spinal Cord Injury

Book: Eat Well, Live Well, with a Spinal Cord Injury 

SCI Nutrition Videos

SCI Connections Series: Healthy Eating Ideas For Individuals With Spinal Cord Injur

Nutrition – Spinal Cord Injury Education | Frazier Rehab Institute

Everyday Nutrition for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injuries

Photo courtesy of Mamaseverydaycookbooks.com

SCI Health Series: Quadriplegic Weight Loss Options

Being in top physical form feels great, but after paralysis, that can seem like a distant dream. Quadriplegics of all levels have a tendency to become overweight as the years creep forward. From not walking to chronic pain, it can be difficult to stay in shape.

IMPORTANT: A person’s ideal weight should be determined by a licensed medical professional.

The right amount and the right kinds fat are good for the body. Saturated fats for instance are required to strengthen cell walls. Additionally, fats keep a person’s skin healthy and reduce inflammation. Plant-based sources of fat are the healthiest, such as walnuts and almonds. Especially for quadriplegics, a layer of fatty tissue around bony areas can provide skin breakdown protection especially when muscles have atrophied in those areas.

But there are many ways to beat the bulge. From diet modification and targeted exercises to minor plastic surgery, people with spinal cord injuries can lose unwanted fat and weight. Read on for some of our best tips!

Option 1: Lower Your Daily Calories

For quadriplegics, one of the easiest ways to lose weight is to lower caloric intake. Since you have limited muscle movement and aren’t walking as before, your recommended calorie intake is 28 calories per kilogram (kg). So to maintain a weight of 130 pounds, for example, you would first divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 (130/2.2 = 59.09 kg). Then to figure out the actual recommended calories you would by 28 cal per kilogram (59.09×28 = 1,654.52). A 130 pound quadriplegic should consume around 1654.52 calories per day.

To lose weight, however, you would need to decrease your daily calorie intake by 500 calories. This will ensure you lose one pound each week. What is great about this method is that no exercise is required, making it a fantastic option for any high-level quads, as well as anyone who doesn’t have access to FES.

IMPORTANT: These are general guidelines and do not account for differences in age, gender or activity levels. Adjustments are always required.

Option 2: Try Fat-burning Exercises

If you are able to move your arms, there are several helpful fat-burning exercise videos for quadriplegics on Youtube that can help you lose unwanted pounds. A 20-minute workout four days a week can help you lose a pound a week.

One of our favorite quadriplegic fitness instructors is Ben Clark, a former champion swimmer and C6 quadriplegic from Australia. He creates workout videos for quadriplegics. If you have Therabands, stretchy workout bands and hand weights (along with Active Hands for gripping), you’ll be able to do many of his workouts. Visit his channel, Adapt to Perform.

Option 3: Coolsculpting

Although costly at about $700 per procedure, Coolscultping is one of the newest ways many people with quadriplegia are getting rid of stubborn belly fat, aka “quad guts,” which many can’t seem to lose no matter how much they work out or diet. This is the only FDA-approved fat-freezing procedure, and it successfully minimizes fat cells.

While the jury’s still out on how long the procedure lasts (doctors claim it lasts forever, but time will tell), it is great to see a cheaper option available other than a tummy tuck to get rid of the quad gut. Watch a success story from a man with quadriplegia, here

Option 4: Abdominal Binders

While it technically doesn’t help with weight loss, abdominal binders – used by many quadriplegics – hide stomach fat under clothes. Although abdominal binders are used primarily to maintain elevated blood pressures in quadriplegics, an attractive stomach profile is a nice side effect! And most insurance plans cover abdominal binders.

Whatever is holding you back, know that you can lose weight as a quadriplegic. While the methods available are limited, they work. With some hard work and dedication, it can absolutely happen. We wish you success!

IMPORTANT: It is important to closely monitor any type of compression clothing especially on bony areas like the ribs and spinal vertebra. Check every skin regularly for any changes in skin integrity.

Have you tried losing weight since becoming a quad? What worked?

Learn more

3 Amazing Wheelchair-User Weight Loss Stories

How to Really Lose Weight Without Walking

Everyday Nutrition for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

Quadriplegic Weight Loss Videos


ASK JORDAN (5) Q&A ♡ My Diet/Fitness Routine, Struggles & World Peace

Workout Wednesday 2 C5 C6 Quadriplegic

Photo courtesy of Flickr