Why is an eating plan important?
What you eat affects your health. Maintaining a healthy weight and following a balanced meal plan that is low in salt can help you control your blood pressure. If you have diabetes, your meal plan is also important in controlling your blood sugar. Controlling high blood pressure and diabetes may also help slow down kidney disease.
Diagrams of acceptable “healthy diets”
All meal plans need to take into account some of the same things, like:
Your body gets energy from the calories you eat and drink. Calories come from the protein, carbohydrates and fat in your diet. How many calories you need depends on your age, sex, body size and activity level.
You may also need to adjust how many calories you eat based on your weight goals. Some people will need to limit the calories they eat. Others may need to have more calories. Your doctor or dietitian can help you figure out how many calories you should have each day. Work with your dietitian to make a meal plan that helps you get the right amount of calories, and keep in close contact for support and follow-up.
How many calories should you consume? Depends on age, height, gender, activity level and if you are trying to gain, lose or maintain your present weight.
Men: 2500-2700 per day
Women: 2000-2200 per day
To lose one pound you need to cut 3500 calories or burn an additional 3500 calories—cut 500 calories per day for one week or increase your activity to burn an extra 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound per week.
Protein is one of the building blocks of your body. Your body needs protein to grow, heal and stay healthy. Having too little protein can cause your skin, hair and nails to be weak. But having too much protein can also be a problem. To stay healthy and help you feel your best, you may need to adjust how much protein you eat.
The amount of protein you should have depends on your body size, activity level and health concerns. Some doctors recommend that people with kidney disease limit protein or change their source of protein. This is because a diet very high in protein can make the kidneys work harder and may cause more damage. Ask your doctor or dietitian how much protein you should have and what the best sources of protein are for you
How Much Protein is Enough? Adults in the U.S. are encouraged to get 10% to 35% of their day's calories from protein foods. That's about 46 grams of protein for women, and 56 grams of protein for men. It's not hard to get this amount if you eat two to three servings of protein-rich foods a day, according to the CDC.
A small 3-ounce piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein. A typical 8-ounce piece of meat could have over 50 grams of protein.
One 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein.
One cup of milk has 8 grams of protein.
One cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein.
Use the table below to learn which foods are low or high in protein. Keep in mind that just because a food is low in protein, it is not healthy to eat unlimited amounts.
Lower protein foods
Pasta and Rice
Higher protein foods
Carbohydrates (“carbs”) are the easiest kind of energy for your body to use. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include fruits and vegetables. Unhealthy sources of carbohydrates include sugar, honey, hard candies, soft drinks and other sugary drinks.
Some carbohydrates are high in potassium and phosphorus, which may need to be limited depending on specific disease processes.
Carbohydrates may need to be carefully watched for diabetics.
Carbohydrate counting or “carb counting’ is a meal planning technique for managing blood glucose levels. Carb counting helps keep track of how much carbohydrate is consumed. Set a limit for the maximum amount of carbohydrate to eat for a meal and with the right balance of physical activity and medicine blood glucose levels will be maintained in the target range. The number of carbs per meal is individual. A good place to start is about 45-60 grams per meal.
Foods that contain carbohydrates are:
Grains like rice, oatmeal and barley
Grain based foods like bread, cereal, pasta and crackers
starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and corn
fruit and juice
milk and yogurt
dried beans like pinto beans and soy products like veggie burgers
sweets and snack foods like sodas, juice drinks, cake, cookies, candy and chips
Non starchy vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli and cauliflower have a little bit of carbohydrate but in general are very low.
Reading food labels is a great way to know how much carbohydrate is in a food. For foods without labels, here is a chart to estimate the number per serving
15 grams of carbohydrate in:
1 small piece of fresh fruit (4oz) ½ cup of canned/frozen fruit
1 slice of bread or 1-6in tortilla ½ cup of oatmeal
1/3 cup of pasta or rice 4-6 crackers
½ English muffin or hamburger bun ½ cup of black beans
¼ of a large baked potato (3oz) ½ cup of starchy vegetables
2 small cookies 2 in square brownie
1 TBLS syrup, jam, jelly, sugar or honey 2 TBLS light syrup
6 chicken nuggets 1 cup soup
2/3 cup of plain fat free yogurt or sweetened with sugar substitutes
You need some fat in your meal plan to stay healthy. Fat gives you energy and helps you use some of the vitamins in your food. But too much fat can lead to weight gain and heart disease. Try to limit fat in your meal plan, and choose healthier fats when you can.
Healthier fat or “good” fat is called unsaturated fat. Examples of unsaturated fat include:
Unsaturated fat can help reduce cholesterol. If you need to gain weight, try to eat more unsaturated fat. If you need to lose weight, limit the unsaturated fat in your meal plan. As always, moderation is the key. Too much “good” fat can also cause problems.
Saturated fat, also known as “bad” fat, can raise your cholesterol level and put you at risk for heart disease. Examples of saturated fats include:
Limit these in your meal plan. Choose healthier, unsaturated fat instead. Trimming the fat from meat and removing the skin from chicken or turkey can also help limit saturated fat.
Nutrition Facts will tell you how much protein, carbohydrates, fat and sodium are in each serving of a food. This can help you pick foods that are high in the nutrients you need and low in the nutrients you should limit. When you look at the Nutrition Facts, there are a few key areas that will give you the information you need:
Choosing healthy foods is a great start, but eating too much of even healthy foods can be a problem. The other part of a healthy diet is portion control, or watching how much you eat.
Good portion control is an important part of any meal plan. It is even more important for individuals with chronic illnesses such as Hypertension, diabetes‘s, Congestive Heart Failure and Kidney Disease because you may need to limit how much of certain things you eat and drink.
To help control your portions:
Eat slowly, and stop eating when you are not hungry any more. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. If you eat too quickly, you may eat more than you need.
Check the Nutrition Facts on a food to learn the true serving size. Many packages have more than one serving. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda is really two-and-a-half servings.
Avoid eating while doing something else, like watching TV or driving. When you are distracted you may not realize how much you have eaten.
Do not eat directly from the package the food came in. Instead, take out one
Sodium (salt) is a mineral found in almost all foods. Too much sodium can make you thirsty, which can lead to swelling and raise your blood pressure. This can damage your kidneys more and make your heart work harder.
Important! Be careful with salt substitutes and "reduced sodium" foods. Many salt substitutes are high in potassium. Too much potassium can be dangerous for someone with kidney disease.
One of the best things that you can do to stay healthy is to limit how much sodium you eat. To limit sodium in your meal plan:
Do not add salt to your food when cooking or eating. Try cooking with fresh herbs, lemon juice or other salt-free spices.
Choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables. If you do use canned vegetables, drain and rinse them to remove extra salt before cooking or eating them.
Avoid processed meats like ham, bacon, sausage and lunch meats.
Munch on fresh fruits and vegetables rather than crackers or other salty snacks.
Avoid canned soups and frozen dinners that are high in sodium.
Avoid pickled foods, like olives and pickled.
Limit high-sodium condiments like soy sauce, BBQ sauce and ketchup.
How much sodium should you have in a day? Healthy adults should limit sodium intake to no more than 2300 milligrams per day, or the amount in a teaspoon of salt. For adults on a low sodium diet the daily limit should be no more than 1500 milligrams per day. Reasons for a low sodium diet: Hypertension, Diabetes, Kidney disease
High Sodium Foods
Cheeses, pickles, olives, processed meats canned soups, breads and fast foods.
Unprocessed foods are usually lower in sodium.
Healthy adults should drink approximately 2 liters of fluid a day. This fluid should be primarily water. Fluid intake should be higher in hot weather.
Alcohol That summer sangria might be refreshing, but it's a natural diuretic. Alcohol causes cells to shrink, which squeezes extra water out, giving drinkers that urge to hit the restroom, and fast. All those trips to the loo deplete your body's natural water stores, which is why you might wake up with a pounding headache the morning after a big night out. And if you're drinking outside on a hot summer day, there's even more reason to up your H2O intake. You could get behind in the dehydration game, with the effects of alcohol and the more profound cause of dehydration: sweating.
The home care aide’s job in this?
Home care aides are charged with planning and preparing healthy meals for their assigned consumers.
Learning about dietary needs and restrictions are a part of the aide’s professional responsibility.
How are aides to do this?
Sit down with your consumer and discuss meal preferences.
Make a list of the foods your consumer likes to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Check local grocery sales &/or shop at places like Bill’s to save the consumer money!
Prepare a meal schedule for the week based on the consumer’s preferences. Take into consideration cost of the meals. Allow for a few extra meals and snacks so the consumer has a choice in what they eat as the week progresses.
If you don’t know how to make a meal the consumer likes, ask them for cooking instructions or look it up on line!
Shop once a week to purchase all the necessary food items and household supplies you will need to do your job! Make sure the consumer needs every item on your list—they may just have some non- perishables in their cupboards!
Encourage healthy choices when planning meals and snacks.
Shop the perimeter of the store—concentrating on fresh produce, meats, dairy and breads (grain), for the majority of foods purchased.
Try to avoid canned or processed foods if possible.
Be considerate of the consumer’s financial position when planning meals. Set a food budget and stick to it. If the consumer decides to splurge on one meal, offset that with an inexpensive meal option for another day that week.
Plan to use all the food items purchased. Chicken can be cooked for dinner one night, used for a salad the next and any leftovers can be made into soup for another meal.
Freeze leftovers in single serving containers for a quick meal at a later date.
No need to purchase expensive prepared meals! We are there to prepare home cooked HEALTHY meals for our consumers!
Remember to engage your consumer in the independent living philosophy! Get them involved in the daily choices we all make—including what we eat! Have the consumer help you at whatever level they can in the preparation of their meals.
When working with food:
Wash your hands before you start preparing food!!!!
Keep all work surfaces clean.
Make sure all foods are prepared at the correct temperatures for safety.
Make sure you package leftovers and refrigerate them promptly.
Clean all dishes/pots/pans/utensils with hot soapy water, rinse well and allow them to air dry.
Always clean up the eating area and kitchen when you are finished!