Diet for a Wheelchair-Bound Person

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are a wheelchair user, dieting is not that much different than it would be for anyone else---you must consume fewer calories than you burn, with a preference for nutrient-dense, natural foods. While there are some factors to consider, individuals dieting while in a wheelchair should be able to make almost any commercially available diet fit their weight-loss needs.

Calculating Caloric Needs

While there is no hard and fast rule about adjusting caloric needs for people in wheelchairs, as opposed to individuals who are not similarly confined, the general rule seems to be that individuals in a wheelchair are less likely to use as many calories as someone who is able-bodied. Thus, the number of calories you will be consuming while dieting should be fewer. Monitor your progress by keeping a list of the calories you consume every day, and weigh yourself at the end of every week. If you are not losing roughly 0.454 to 0.907kg. per week, decrease your daily caloric consumption by 200 to 300 calories.

Food Choices

Menu items for individuals dieting from a wheelchair will be relatively unchanged. On the whole, aim for a diet consisting largely of fruits and vegetables, with some whole grains. Each meal should contain a protein source such as chicken or seafood and a source of healthy unsaturated fat (such as almonds or olive oil). To maximise your progress, eat five or six meals per day, eating every two to three hours. Eliminate fried, processed and sugary foods, and abstain from alcohol. Drink at least eight 227gr. glasses of water every day to help flush your system and keep you hydrated.

Carb Considerations

Although low-carb dieting is popular, it might not be healthy for someone in a wheelchair, as the reduction in energy might make pushing your wheelchair too difficult. In addition to tinkering with your caloric intake, you will also want to play around with your daily intake of carbs. According to nutritionist Lyle McDonald, start with 100 to 120g of carbohydrates daily, spaced out evenly among your meals. As long as at least 75 to 80 per cent of your carbs are coming from fresh fruits and vegetables, your weight loss can be consistent, even with a higher intake of carbs. If you have difficulty keeping up your energy, or if you are not losing weight on schedule, either increase or decrease your daily carb total, respectively.

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About the Author

TS Jordan is an Ohio licensed attorney living and practicing out of the Cleveland area. In addition to his Juris Doctorate, he holds a Bachelors' Degree in Information Systems. He has been writing professionally for less than a year.