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March is National Nutrition Month – a time to focus on improving your diet and lifestyle habits to foster improved overall health. And National Nutrition Month has special meaning for those undergoing rehabilitation following illness, an accident, or surgery.

The fact is that your diet can affect how long it takes for you to recover in rehabilitation as well as help your stay healthy after you’ve fully recovered and gotten back home.

Seeing a registered dietician nutritionist (RDN) and following the recommendations of caretakers at your rehabilitation center will help you get and stay on track diet-wise. But you should also be informed yourself on how diet choices affect you during rehab – here are 5 ways to improve your diet and reap the benefits! 

1. Tailor Diet For Proper Weight Management

Many in rehab have suffered a lot of sudden weight loss due to the illness that put them there. In this case, you need a diet with a high enough caloric intake to get back to a normal weight. You want this to be muscle gain and not primarily fat gain, however. So you want a high-protein diet and plenty of vitamins. This could include foods like low-fat meats, yogurt, nuts, eggs, fruit juices, and smoothies.

On the other hand, some suffer from weight gain immediately after falling ill. This may call for calorie reduction, while still maintaining high nutrient levels and all the essentials.

2. Overcoming Loss Of Appetite

After being fed through a tube or just from being overwhelmed physically and distracted mentally, many in rehab tend to lose their appetite. But you have to eat (and eat healthy) to facilitate a quick recovery.

Many times, you need to eat smaller portions but more frequently during rehabilitation to regain your appetite. It takes time to get used to the taste/texture of once-familiar foods all over again.

3. Insist On A High-nutrient Diet

One of the keynotes of National Nutrition Month is the need to include foods from all food groups in our daily diets. All too often, we skimp on fruits and vegetables – the very foods that are (usually) richest in vitamins and minerals.

In order for the body, and especially your muscles, to repair themselves during rehab, an extra-high dose of nutrients will be necessary. This means eating foods like leafy greens, berries, beans, fruits and juices, salads, and boiled or steamed vegetables that have not been overcooked.

 4. Choose Foods That Fight Inflammation

Certain foods, like those high in sugar and saturated fats, tend to increase the risk of body inflammations. Processed and low-GI foods can also make you more vulnerable to inflammation.

Fish with omega fats, bell peppers, beets, orange/yellow fruits, berries, leaf vegetables, and certain spices like ginger or turmeric can help prevent and reduce inflammations. That can, in turn, lead to a faster recovery.

5. Be Keen On Strengthening Immune Health

You also want to follow a diet that includes a substantial amount of anti-oxidant-rich food items. This will boost immune health so you are less likely to come down with a cold or the flu, which would slow your recovery.

Key antioxidant-rich foods include whole grains, artichokes, red grapes, carrots, apples, potatoes, and dark chocolate.

It’s important to choose a rehabilitation center that makes it easy to follow a healthy diet and to customize your diet to your body’s needs. For more information on how good dietary nutrition can have a big impact on how smoothly things go during the recovery process, contact the rehabilitation experts at The Arbors in Amarillo, Texas, today!