Welcome to NEW MOBILITY’s new nutrition column! Here you’ll find nutritional tips and recipes to help you achieve optimal health and well-being. As nutritionists whose lives have both been affected by spinal cord injury, we fully understand the unique challenges many of you face in trying to stay healthy while living a full and active life.
One of the keys to this delicate balance is proper nutrition. After sustaining spinal cord damage, your digestive function, metabolism and hormone balance are significantly altered, and together these can contribute to the development of a host of other secondary health complications that can negatively impact your ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Incorporating whole foods into your diet is an important way to help maintain your health, improve daily function, reduce the risk of secondary complications that often develop after spinal cord injury, minimize illness, and maximize your potential.
So let’s begin with the most important meal of the day — yes, our mothers were right — breakfast. It has been estimated that people with mobility impairments exert seven times the energy to accomplish the same physical tasks as their nondisabled peers, so it’s vital to properly fuel your body every morning. Now, before pouring yourself a big bowl of processed cereal or detouring over to your local drive-through for a double-double and toasted bagel to get your morning kick, hold on!
These morning meals are loaded with salt and refined carbohydrates that can contribute to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and low immunity — all common secondary health complications that can develop post-injury. While these foods may give you a quick energy boost, they’ll just as quickly give you an energy crash, and before you know it you’ll be reaching for the next quick hit of sugar-ladened food again. It’s this vicious cycle that can lead to packing on unwanted pounds.
What you need is a healthy, quick, and easy-to-prepare meal that also sustains your energy — breakfast smoothies are the perfect answer! These delicious shakes only take two minutes to make — less time than you spend in line at the drive-through — and you’ll never get bored of drinking them because you can add or mix your favorite fruits into them. Smoothies not only contain high-energy complex carbohydrates to keep you going all morning, but they’re also packed with muscle-building protein and immune-boosting nutrients. On top of all of these tasty health benefits, smoothies also help increase your metabolism, so they can actually help you lose weight. All you need are the following ingredients and a counter-top or hand blender. Enjoy!
Joanne Smith and Kylie James are co-authors of the book Eat Well Live Well with SCI and Other Neurological Conditions. For more information on nutrition for neurological injuries, go to www.eatwelllivewellwithsci.com.
Grounded Earth Protein Smoothie
1 ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (can substitute rice milk)
2 tsp almond butter
½ cup dates (pitted)
1 tbsp oats
½ tsp spirulina powder (You can substitute greens or sea vegetable powder. Spirulina is a nutrient dense algae that can be found in your local health food store and it doesn’t taste bad. We promise!)
Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth in consistency.