Cooking is a valuable skill in life and is something that a lot of us learn over time, becoming second nature. For others however, cooking can be a difficult task and for those who maybe didn’t learn how to cook, those who don’t have access to cooking facilities or for those living with a permanent or temporary disability, cooking can present many challenges.
For an individual with an intellectual disability, finding, reading and understanding a recipe may be challenging. For someone who uses a wheelchair, preparing a meal where the bench height is not modified makes preparing a meal less accessible. Or for someone who does not have full upper body mobility, holding a knife to chop vegetables may mean that things that need chopping are avoided all together. In addition, making choices for health and wellbeing is another barrier on top of those already mentioned.
What can help people living with a disability make healthy meals?
Below are some tips in helping participants living with a temporary or permanent disability prepare meals;
1.Use the microwave:
Microwaves are a convenient tool in the kitchen. They allow you to cook a range of different products in a short period of time and with little preparation. Some great options for microwave cooking include;
- Frozen vegetables – no, frozen vegetables are not any less healthy than their fresh brothers and sisters. They last longer, are more widely available, save on waste and are very cost effective.
- Microwave rice and pasta. There are now a huge variety of different rice and pasta products that can be cooked in less than 2 minutes in the microwave.
2. Buying pre-cut, frozen or canned products:
By purchasing products that are already cut, it eliminates a step to preparing that recipe – try with pre-cut salads, roast vegetables, pasta or grain salads, and even meat such as chicken chunks or beef strips. Similarly for buying frozen or canned vegetables and fruit – there is minimal preparation involved and they can be used in any number of recipes without sacrificing nutrition.
Planning out what meal or meals you are going to make can ensure that you have all the ingredients and utensils that you need on the day, saves money, and saves time! Planning a meal in advance also helps to guarantee that it has all the components of a healthy, balanced meal – whatever that may look like for you!
4. Dietitian Support:
Optimum Intake Dietitians assist a participant to realise their potential by improving their nutrition and functional capacity for daily life.
When shopping & meal planning is challenging, we can assist with:
- Education on planning and preparing of meals, and shopping lists
- Assisted food shopping tours
- Internet shopping lessons
- Creating visual tools and educational materials to support meal planning
- Learning how to choose suitable foods when eating out, including eating at fast food outlets, and food courts
- Learning how to understand and order from menus
When cooking is difficult, we can assist with:
- Cooking and food safety education
- Cooking sessions with a participant
- Cooking skills development
- Creative strategies to increase food variety through cooking skills and utensils
- Enhanced recipe and meal development
- Assist with altering recipes to meet the participant’s literacy skills
- Portion control
When eating and feeding is challenging, we can assist with:
- Portion priorities
- Provide ideas to improve the nutritional quality of an individual’s diet
- Guidance on eating out and eating socially
- Texture progression in children and adults
- Fussy eating or resistant / picky eating
- Supporting diets for people with chewing and swallowing difficulties
- Managing stressful mealtimes
- Mealtime behaviours – food refusal, eating at the table, reducing distractions and avoidance at meal times
- Increasing the variety of foods eaten when intake is limited
- Increasing eating participation at meals
What if cooking simply isn’t for you?
THAT’S OK! For many, they have tried cooking and it simply isn’t their cup of tea or for safety reasons such as in conditions which affect someone’s chewing or swallowing ability and where texture modification is needed. There are many options out there for meal delivery services that are NDIS registered:
If you find that preparing, structuring, cooking or accessing meals is difficult for you, Optimum Intake can help to optimise your ability. We are an NDIS registered provider and can offer a range of services to assist in you meeting your goals.
If you would like to know more about Optimum Intakes NDIS services, please contact one of our experienced Participant Care Co-ordinators on 0499 008 451 or visit the contact page.