People with learning disabilities are more likely to be severely overweight than people in the general population. Women with learning disabilities are even more likely to be obese.
People who are obese are at much greater risk of health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and mobility difficulties.
The two main ways to reduce weight are diet and exercise. For most people, bringing their weight down to healthy levels involves both exercising more and eating healthier amounts of healthier foods such as fruit, vegetables, good sources of protein and fibre.
There are lots of reasons why it may be difficult for people with learning disabilities to lose weight.
- Some people with learning disabilities don’t do exercise because they don’t understand the benefits of it.
- It can take more time to cook a healthy meal than to have a ready meal.
- Lack of time and lack of support staff can make it difficult for people to eat healthy foods and to take exercise.
- Risk assessment issues can stop people doing physical exercise.
- Some people take medication that makes them put on weight.
- Some places like the gym and swimming pool can be difficult to get to, expensive, not easy to access and people don’t always feel welcome.
At Leep1 we do a lot of work around promoting healthy eating and lifestyle. With regular yoga, exercise and keep fit on our timetable we also support and encourage our members to make healthy food choices. Many of our members are very motivated and dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and diet.
This week it has been Heathy Eating Week 2021 #healthyeatingweek so we decided to share our top tips to eating healthier and having healthy food habits.
Colleen’s Top Tip #1
START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON
Adding some fresh fruit at breakfast time is a really heathy start to the day. Colleen likes to add bananas and fruit to low fat yoghurt and says this is her all time favourite breakfast. Bananas are a great choice as they will provide you with energy, fibre and Potassium. Fresh fruits or dried fruits on cereals and porridge is a great idea too.
Amanda’s Tip #2
Stop picking at those biscuits! Make a fruit salad with all your favourite fruits and keep a big bowl ready in the fridge. You can try adding fresh lime juice and some honey for extra flavour. Low sugar Elderflower soda is lovely to add too.
Having it ready prepared means you aren’t ever tempted to grab something unhealthy because it’s easier and the mix of delicious fruits means your’e getting more of your five a day in one mouthful.
Amanda says “Pineapple is my favourite fruit – it is great for boosting your immune system, packed with nutrients, helps your digestion, boosts metabolism and helps healing – plus it tastes amazing!”
Kalwant’s Tip #3
HYDRATION HYDRATION HYDRATION
Kalwant is a vegetarian and loves his fruit and veg. He suggests having a healthy salad for lunch as a way to get your five a day. We love the salads @cafeleep which are always full of colour and variety – just check out their rainbow salad plate!
Another top tip from Kalwant is to choose a healthy drink to stay hydrated. Lemon and cucumber water is one suggestion . It has many potential health benefits, including weight loss, lowering blood pressure, helping bone and skin health and extra Vitamin C
Mandy’s Top Tip #4
A HANDFUL OF NUTS
Mandy always eats a handful of nuts everyday . Nuts (unsalted ones) are really healthy for you giving essential fatty acids that make your skin glow. Adding prunes to the mix adds even more benefits! Prunes are a bit of a lost gem of the food world but just two of them counts as one of your five a day. They are packed with fibre, vitamins and iron and have lots of health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, balancing cholesterol and supporting digestive health.
Another top tip from Mandy is to “listen to your stomach – what is it telling you? are you actually hungry?” Snacking on high fibre fruits such as prunes helps stave off hunger and the temptation to snack in between meals.
Darren’s Top Tip #5
EAT A RAINBOW
Darren from Cafe Leep is another vegetarian at Leep1. He too loves his fruit and veg and whizzes us up some amazing salad plates and healthy food at the cafe for us all. Their rainbow looking salad plate is just amazing!
If there is a variety of colour on your plate you know you are onto a winner. Choosing colorful foods leads to healthy diets. The different colours of fruit and veg each provides us with many different types of nutrients.
Variety is the spice of life so replacing rice with grains like Couscous and Quinoa can be a different healthy option that provides you with different nutrients such as Selenium.
MORE INFO: Watch the British Heart Foundation’s Infographic to learn more about the different benefits of each colourful food