Having felt a bit lost with my blog recently and wondering if anyone actually read it, I was given an answer today through a lovely phone call from someone struggling with social care support for her disabled child. We had such a nice chat and honestly, it made me feel a million times better and helped me focus on why I write this blog; it’s to help people feel less isolated and alone which is so common when you have a disabled child. It’s also to pass on any information I find to as many people as possible. In particular, this lady had read my meagre sections on nutrition and was interested in my views of her child’s diet. I thought it would be interesting to look up disibility-specific diet suggestions and relay what I find through this arena in case it has the capacity to help other people struggling with similar ideas. Bit of a different method of writing for me today but below is a combination of all the details I found during my search.
So, Cerebral Palsy (CP). Not a disability I have any direct experience of however, I do know a few children with it at Jude’s school. Focusing entirely on diet and nutrition – many children with CP have muscle tone and/or motor skill problems so feeding and mealtimes can be a massive challenge with some only being able to accept food via a tube. Many others only eat mashed up or liquid food because of their limited facial muscle function and therefore the risk of choking.
Interestingly, I found the following statistics regarding some of the things people with CP encounter:
- 86% experience oral-motor dysfunction
- 77% are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux
- 74% report chronic constipation
- 60% present with swallowing disorders
- 32% report abdominal pain (from cerebralpalsy.org)
Constipation, as you can see is pretty prevalent and I looked up some ways of keeping this problem at bay.
Some of the most simple suggestions are: regularly drinking water with lemon juice, taking a spoonful of olive oil on an empty stomach (I guess each morning is easiest), mixing molasses with hot water and sipping it medicinally throughout the day, eating plenty of fibrous foods such as beans, apricots, whole grain bread, berries, broccoli, plums, pears and apples, nuts, potatoes. Other suggestions are adding flaxseed oil to orange juice and drinking a glass of this every day, regularly taking aloe vera juice and sipping a cup of dandelion tea. Most importantly, eating REAL foods avoiding anything processed. Please click here for the original article by Everyday Roots, it’s quite an interesting website with lots of natural remedies for all sorts of ailments.
Here is some basic advice I found given by a Holistic Health Councellor (American based)
- “Make every bite count.” Take out processed food and concentrated on foods that are dense in good calories and useful high fats such as avocado, olive oil, nut butters, etc.
- Perhaps try adding a smoothie to your daily diet that is full of good fruits such as mango, banana, dates and additional green leafy vegetables for the vitamins, fibre and bulk that can help with constipation.
- Healthy fats are those such as nut butters, coconut milk, and coconut oil – use these to increase nutrition and calories. They can also be added to smoothies or pasta sauces.
Children with CP need more or fewer calories depending on their muscle tone (how tense their muscles are at rest) and level of activity. Those with high muscle tone and increased physical activity will obviously need more calories than children with poor muscle tone and very little physical activity. Naturally, children who do not engage in a lot of activity and struggle to get the nutrients they need through diet are likely to have weak bones which can lead to a larger risk of fractures or general bone damage. It’s important therefore, to ensure children with CP get enough of the following three nutrients:
- Calcium – I’m going to be controversial here and say that I actually think dairy is NOT the best place to gain this mineral. Green leafy vegetables, collard greens, broccoli, kale are fantastic and massively high in calcium as are edamame and bok choi. Figs are great, as are oranges, white beans, okra, tofu and almonds. Obviously, milk (plant based or cows) yoghurt and cheese if you eat it are considered useful calcium sources by many however don’t rely solely on these.
- Vitamin D – often found fortified in dairy-free and cows milks, cereals and orange juice. This is used to absorb vitamin C. We can also boost our vitamin D reserves through regular time out in the sun.
- Phosphorus – Can be found in nuts, whole grains and eggs.
- Other important minerals for strong bones are magnesium, copper, zinc and manganese. All regularly found in beans and lots of lovely vegetables. These are fairly easy to attain through a typical diet.
But what about meal ideas?
I spoke to one lady regarding her daughters diet and she said that she merely blends up whatever the family are having and spoon feeds her daughter. It’s a way of ensuring they are eating as a family whilst her daughter gains as many nutrients through natural, real food as possible.
Here are some charities who can offer direct support for people with Cerebral Palsy:
International Cerebral Palsy Society – American based but internationally functioning
Do you have any information you could add regarding Cerebral Palsy? I would love to hear your experiences or general information.
Normal form returns tomorrow…Jude is going for a hair cut! I’ll let you know how it goes…