Top 15 healthier convenience foods
When people are recovering from a major trauma or injury, they have the highest nutritional needs of virtually any other time in their adult life. However, this is often the time when these clients find themselves struggling to prepare healthy food. Food preparation becomes challenging when someone is fatigued, they have multiple physical difficulties (such as reduced mobility or an impaired hand function) and/or they have executive functioning issues which make 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 to make up the majority of someone’s diet (and they aren’t carefully selected), then clients will not be getting adequate nutrition in order to heal from their injuries.
So, what’s the solution?
Here are our top 15 suggestions for healthier
1. Frozen Ready Meals
The majority of ready meals on the market are not ideal, because they tend to be high in refined carbohydrate (e.g. white rice, white pasta, potatoes), high in salt, low in protein and contain very few vegetables or fruit. They 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 which are higher in protein without being excessively high in calories. Adding steamed vegetables on the side can boost the nutritional value further.
As a general guide, look for ready meals which meet the following criteria (per serving):
- under 550 calories;
- a MINIMUM of 20 grams of protein; and
- a MAXIMUM of 50 grams of carbohydrate.
2. Refrigerated items
As an alternative to ready meals, there are several pre-made salads and packaged ingredients on the market which can be assembled quickly into a healthy meal with minimal effort.
Supermarket multi-grain, high protein salads
Most grocery stores now offer a wealth of nutritious and interesting salad boxes which are a healthier alternative to the traditional sandwich, crisp & fizzy drink combo. Look for salads with at least 20 grams of protein per box and less than 5 grams of saturated fat.
These hearty one pots make a great alternative to instant noodles and tinned soup because they are much higher in protein and fibre.
For lunch served in a flash, add falafel to bagged salad greens with some chopped red pepper, hummus and extra light mayo.
3. Non-perishable options
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 to the supermarket. Hint: these are also great options for busy professionals to keep in their desk drawer at work!
Jamie Oliver Range (all supermarkets)
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.
Flavoured tinned fish can be added to a store-bought salad or served with Ryvita crackers and raw veggies for an ultra-fast lunch on the go.
Ben’s Plant Powered (all supermarkets)
This new range is great for vegetarians and even better when served with some extra vegetables on the side.
Choose from the wide range of flavoured lentils (for protein) and add some microwavable brown basmati rice and 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 maximum control over the amount of salt, protein, vegetables, fruit and whole grains that are in it. However, when that’s not an option, the ideas listed above are a great compromise.
To refer a client with a brain injury, spinal cord injury or orthopaedic injury for a comprehensive dietetic assessment, please contact Specialist Nutrition Rehab at 0121 384 7087 or email@example.com.
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