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Nutritional Needs

Nutritional Needs


Weight management is important for people with spinal cord injury, and these tips are the key to staying trim and healthy.

Research is clear that proper nutrition is a key factor in reducing obesity in the general population. Yet, there is limited research on the nutritional needs of people with spinal-cord injury (SCI). So, what do you do?

Here are some answers to important questions to get you started.

Before Changing My Diet?

Absolutely! No popular diet program considers a person’s specific healthcare needs. Likewise, research only provides suggestions on what might be beneficial for a group — not the individual.

You must consider how your diet directly affects all your health-related concerns. So you should talk to your doctor before changing your routine to help avoid problems.

What Do I Need to Ask?

Ask your doctor to recommend a professional dietitian. This is because doctors know medicine, but dietitians (sometimes called nutritionists) know nutrition. A dietitian can help you understand the available SCI research and help you plan a diet to meet your needs.

Ask your doctor about following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 if dietary counseling is not possible. These guidelines are not based on SCI research, but they are updated regularly to reflect the latest research findings in the general population.

How Do I Change My Diet to Lose Weight?

You lose weight if you consume fewer calories than you burn, so you need to determine your daily calorie needs.

What is half of your desired target body weight? That number is a good starting point to figure the number of calories you need to consume to lose weight.

Formula for People with Paraplegia

– ½ your target weight x 28 = daily calorie intake to reach target weight

Formula for People with Tetraplegia

– ½ your target weight x 23 = daily calorie intake to reach target weight

If you want to lose weight, you should reduce your daily calorie intake by 200–300 calories or participate in exercise programs.

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