Dietary education is an essential part of providing nutrition services to individuals with medical or surgical conditions, whether young or old. It can be defined as any set of learning experiences designed to facilitate the voluntary adoption of eating and other nutrition-related behaviors conducive to health and well-being.
The goal of nutritional education is threefold. First, to provide adequate knowledge and skills necessary for critical thinking regarding diet and health so the individual can make healthy food choices from an increasingly complex food supply. Second, to assist the individual in identifying resources for continuing access to sound food and nutrition information or education. And third, to create a positive attitude towards good nutrition and physical activities and provide motivation for improved nutrition and lifestyle practices conducive to promoting and maintaining the best attainable level of wellness for an individual in their different community or health centers.
The content of nutrition education should be based on the dietary guidelines, which include maintaining a healthy weight, daily physical activities, food safety, and moderation of alcohol intake. Nutrition education should make available information and guidelines since alcohol is not good for the health.
This should be done through the following:
- Behavioral practices including the factors that influence one’s eating and food preparation habits.
- Food, including the kinds and amount of food required to meet one’s daily nutritional needs.
- Information on the roles of nutrition and physical activities in maintaining chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, and arthritis should be made available to the individual communities and groups at large.
In medical/surgical conditions, eating too much, too little of sitting foods and nutrients can raise the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Having too much sugar, salt or fats in the diet can raise one’s risk for certain diseases. Healthy eating plants can lower an individual’s risk for heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, and other health conditions. A healthy eating plan emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat fiber or low-fat dietary products include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and limit the intake of saturated fats, sodium, and sugar. Nutritional management is a coordinated effort of the medical, nursing, and dietary staff. It entails assessments of the pre-operative patient’s dietary behavior and intake, evaluation of nutritional state, and providing patients with appropriate instructions.
Some medical conditions that require dietary education are:
- Hypertension: This is a condition in which the force of the blood against the walls of the artery is too high, above 140/90 mmHg. To reduce hypertension, sodium and alcohol intake should be reduced, and more fruits and vegetables, fiber, fish, and medications and supplements that increase blood pressure should be consumed. Caffeine intake should be reduced, and regular exercises such as walking or running can help reduce hypertension.
- Asthma: This is a condition in which an individual’s airway becomes inflamed and swollen and produces extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe because of the fluid accumulated in the airway. To reduce asthma attacks, sources of vitamin D, such as salmon, milk and fortified milk, fortified orange juice, and egg, should be consumed. Children with asthma typically have low levels of vitamin E in their blood, and good sources of vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, and leafy vegetables such as spinach.
- Appendicitis: This is a serious medical condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed and painful. The high-fiber diet full of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables is the best way to avoid this condition. Foods like fried food, spicy and pepper food, canned food and dressings, alcohol, fatty meat, and aerated drinks, coffee, tea, and cooked eggs should be avoided by patients with appendicitis.
- Psychiatric Condition:
Dementia is a degenerative brain disorder that leads to a progressive decline in cognitive functions. Nutritional deficiencies are known to contribute to the development of dementia. Therefore, dietary education for psychiatric patients with dementia is crucial. Patients should be placed on supplements such as vitamin B1, vitamin B6, acetylcholine, and less cholesterol. Consuming vegetables, legumes, and adequate water helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce anxiety. Alcohol should be avoided as it weakens the body’s immune system.
Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of tension and apprehension that interfere with daily activities. For psychiatric patients with anxiety, consuming vegetables, legumes, adequate water, vitamin B, magnesium, antioxidants, and healthy fats such as nuts and seeds is recommended. Alcohol should be avoided as it weakens the body’s immune system.
Measles is a viral infection that causes fever and a red rash in children. Adequate fluid intake is essential for a sick child with measles. Parents should provide proper meals for their children to prevent dehydration and weight loss.
Pneumonia is a lung inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infection, and adequate fluid intake is essential for a child with pneumonia. Parents should ensure their child drinks enough clear fluids to prevent dehydration and provide at least six meals and snacks each day to increase calorie intake. High-fat, high-protein foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and essential vitamins, are recommended.
Uterine myomas, also known as leiomyomas, are non-cancerous tumors that sometimes develop in the uterus. Nutritional supplements can help prevent the development of uterine fibroids. Consuming white meat, such as chicken or turkey, instead of red meat or plant-based sources of protein such as beans, is recommended. Foods rich in vitamins, such as oily fish, berries, citrus fruits, soya products, and green tea, help protect against fibroids and promote good health. Cumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that may help prevent uterine fibroids.