It is important to give people some choice in the food thay eat. This will make mealtimes more enjoyable. Just imagine being unable to prepare meals for myself and having to sit down day after day to eat boring, unappetising or badly cooked food. Choice should be offered in the type of food, he way it is cooked and the quantity of food that is provided. It may also be helpful, if possible, to vary the times at which food is provided, so that people can choose the tome at which they wish to eat rather than having to fit in with the arrangements of their care setting. Of course, this is not easy as there are always considerations about staffing and running any care facility. Knowing the types of food and drink a person likes will help to build a trusting relationship. Some people choose not to eat meat because of their concern for animals. Some people have foods that they just do not like. Some people choose not to eat certain food because of religious easons.
People from some groups will only eat food that has been prepared in certain ways depending on their religions laws. It is important to know what a healty and balanced diet is encouranging people to make suitable choices about what they eat is a very important part of supporting them. Some people may need to have a special diet for medical reasons, such as diabetes. A healthy balanced diet gives people all the nutrients in the right amounts for their age and gender. The amount of food taken in by a person needs to balance with the energy they use. If these are not balanced, the person will lose or gain weight. For example, an energetic teenager aets more than a older person who is not very active, because the teenager uses more energy. Everyone should eat a variety of foods, so that our bodies get all the nutrients that we need. This is especially important if people are recovering from an accident or an operation.
The nutrition pyramid above typically shows the amount needed from each food group every day. If dietary choice permits, try to choose low fat dairy foods and lean meat. Eat two portions of fish each week. Alcohol should be kept within the recommended limits or, better still, to occasional use only. The long-term effects of too much alcohol include conditions that can cause serious damage to the liver, of the stomach. It can also lead to dementia. It is important to encourage people to drink on a regular basis. For example, I could offer water, fruit squash, fruit juice and other drinks. However, too many sugary drinks, suck as fizzy drinks, and drinks that contain high levels of coffeine should be avoided. A lot of reseach has been carried out about what we eat. It has shown that too much salt is bad for me because it can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Research has also shown that eating enough fruit and vegetables can help to prevent some cancers. A person who eats too much and does not exercise enough may become obese. There can be many reasons why a person does not choose a healthy, balanced diet. They may not know what a healthy diet is. Diet can also be linked to social class because poorer people may not be able to afford good-quality food; however, with some thought it is possible tto eat a healty diet on a budget. Busy lifestyles mean that some people eat a lot of processed or conveniene foods, which usually contain a lot of salt and fat. Other peope just do not want to follow the advice to eat well, because they feel that the unhealthy option tastes better! Make sure that I know what a healthy diet is so that I can help people to make healthy choices.
If I help them to develop independent skills by supporting them to do their own shopping, point out the healthy options and alternatives, I may also need to knowwhat the consequences of a poor diet choice might be. For example obesity can lead to heart disease, varicose veins, diabetes and arthritis. High cholesterol and diets high in salt can lead to heart attacks and strokes. If I am aware of the consequences, this means that I can offer sound advice. People may be reluctant, or may even refuse, to eat certain types of food which have been noted in their support plan as a requirement for their condition- such as a diabetic diet, a weight-reduction diet or a gluten-free diet. This can cause difficulties in terms of being able to offer freedom of choice. I may feel that this places me, and other care staff, in a very difficult position.
If someone is determined to ignore medical advice and to follow a different diet, this should be reported and discussed among the care team and the madical staff responsible for the person’s care. Ultimately I have little control over a diabetic who buys and eats chocolate bars and sweets. However, I do have a responsibility to provide full information and explanations, and to repeat the explanations regulary to the person, making every effort to persuade them to comply with the dietary requirements. If a person chooses, in full knowledge of the consequences, to ignore medical advice, then that is their choice.
Courtney from Study Moose