A young adult’s ability to control their diet is an important step on the road to independence. This means making healthy food choices and learning how to cook and prepare meals.
Mary, a Senior Consultant at LiveBig, shared some insights on how we can support young adults with disability on their journey to independence.
The key to understanding nutrition is to start simple
Mary suggests starting with a few simple changes. Reorganising your pantry, throwing out unhealthy snacks, and stocking up on healthy options such as fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables is a great place to start.
Meal planning is also an easy way to learn about nutrition and healthy eating. Planning your meals helps you get a clear idea of what you like to eat and what foods you need.
Planning can also make the cooking and preparation process easier. And food planning can be fun. Think of selecting all your favourite meals and adding them to your weekly shop and cooking schedule.
When thinking about nutrition, focus on balance
Making sure you eat various fruit and vegetables and avoiding highly processed and packaged foods is a simple way to stay healthy.
This includes making sure you aren’t eating too much of one food group. A great way to see if you are eating enough variety is to think about eating a rainbow. Eat fruit, vegetables and meat that include as many colours of the rainbow as you can.
Start with easy recipes when first learning
Mary suggests starting with easy recipes and then building up to more complicated ones. Boiling an egg is an excellent place to start. Eggs are a great source of protein and are packed with healthy nutrients such as Vitamin D, B12 and Iodine.
When first learning to cook, a great way to make the cooking process less overwhelming is with healthy shortcuts like frozen vegetables in recipes. This can reduce preparation time and make the cooking and cleaning up easier.
Build up confidence and skills
Like learning anything new, learning to cook – while it can be fun – can also be confusing and stressful. It takes time to learn new skills, but with patience and practice, it gets easier.
Mary has some tips on how to make learning new skills easier:
- Break down the task into smaller goals. When first learning, start with just one part of the process, the meal planning or chopping vegetables.
- Try different ways of learning. Work out how you learn best and then practice small tasks.
- Find ways to keep motivated. Choosing healthy, easy meals you like is a great way to make cooking fun.
- Ask for help. Ask a parent, carer or friend to help you. Having someone to share the work can also make it more fun.
- Use equipment that helps make cooking easier. The Independent Living Centre has some great tools to assist in the kitchen.
At LiveBig, we help people living with disabilities to live independently. To find out more about our services and how we can help you under your NDIS plan, visit our website or call 1300 390 222.