Top 10 healthier convenience foods
When people are recovering from a catastrophic injury, they have the highest nutritional needs of virtually any other time in their life. However, this is often the time when these clients find themselves struggling to prepare healthy food because they are fatigued, have multiple physical challenges around mobility or arm function and/or have impaired executive functioning which makes it difficult to plan, shop for and prepare food.
As a result, biscuits, sandwiches, ready meals, take away and fast food are sometimes eaten more frequently because they are quick and easy to prepare. Eating these foods occasionally is not a problem. However, if these foods begin make up the majority of someone’s diet, then clients will not be getting adequate nutrition in order to heal from their injuries.
So what’s the solution?
Here are my top 10 suggestions for healthier
The reason I’m not keen on most ready meals is because they tend to be high in refined carbohydrate (eg. white rice, white pasta, potatoes), high in salt, low in protein and contain very few vegetables or fruit. Ready meals also tend to be a bit lacking in flavour (which can be a problem if someone is already suffering from a reduced sense of taste or smell). Fortunately, there are a few brands now which are much higher in protein without being excessively high in calories. There isn’t much we can do about the salt content, but I would encourage clients to add some extra frozen vegetables on the side to boost the nutritional value further.
Slimming World Range
M&S Balanced for You Range
Texture-modified Ready Meals
If you have clients who are just learning to adapt to a texture-modified diet, getting texture-modified ready meals can make life a lot easier because they are nicely presented and always the correct consistency. I also tend to recommend these meals to schools when they have students who require a texture-modified diet (particularly level 4 pureed diets) and are either struggling to offer sufficient variety and/or struggling to get their food to the correct consistency.
Foods which require refrigeration
As an alternative to ready meals, there are several pre-prepared ingredients on the market which can be assembled quickly into a healthy meal with minimal effort.
These are great when you spread hummus and extra light mayo on a seeded wrap and then add the falafel, bagged salad greens and some chopped red pepper. Lunch is served in a flash!
Supermarket multi-grain, high protein salads
Most grocery stores now offer a wealth of nutritious and interesting salad boxes which make for a much healthier alternative to the traditional sandwich, crisp & fizzy drink combo. Look for salads with at least 20 grams of protein per box (to help keep you full) and ones that contain less than 5 grams of saturated fat.
To turn these soups into a meal, either choose the ones with at least 12 grams of protein per pot, or serve them with some hummus and Ryvita crackers on the side.
Foods which do not require refrigeration
Clients can keep a stash of these little sachets in the cupboard for times when they may not have the time or energy to go the grocery store. Hint: these are also great options for busy professionals to keep in their desk drawer at work!
Jamie Oliver Range
Serve with some microwavable brown basmati rice, wild rice or 5 whole grain mixes as well as some frozen vegetables, raw vegetables or salad to make a complete meal.
Serve the sachets with some extra salad or raw veggies to round out the meal. Flavoured tinned fish can be added to a store-bought salad or served with Ryvita crackers and raw veggies.
Serve these flavoured lentils with some microwavable brown basmati rice or 5 whole grain mix and add some frozen vegetables, salad or raw vegetables to make a complete meal.
Home prepared food is always ideal because it offers the best flavour and offers you maximum control over the amount of salt, protein, vegetables, fruit and whole grains that are in the foods that you eat. However, when that’s not an option, the ideas listed above are a great compromise.
If you have a client who would benefit from an assessment of their nutritional status or who needs food and nutrition advice to manage their medical condition (eg. Type 2 diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, pressure sores), please get in touch with Sheri Taylor, Dietitian at 0121 384 7087 or email@example.com.