Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

A Model for Teaching Healthy Nutrition to Clients of Rehabilitation Services

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

A Model for Teaching Healthy Nutrition to Clients of Rehabilitation Services

Article excerpt

A Model for Teaching Healthy Nutrition to Clients of Rehabilitation Services

A healthy and proper diet has an impact upon disease, physical health, emotional well-being, and provides numerous other benefits (Brandon, 1985; Clark & Blackburn, 1983; Pearson & Long, 1982; Smith, 1985; Vass, 1983; Williams, 1985). Thus it is important for persons to become nutritionally aware. Surprisingly, there have been few research studies which address the teaching of nutrition in rehabilitation settings, and concurrently provides an evaluation of the material taught/learned.

A review of the literature showed that most of the research regarding the teaching of nutritional awareness and dietary information has been directed at children. For example, Warden, Duncan and Sommars (1982) studied children who had some degree of mental retardation over a five-year period. They found that by eliminating refined carbohydrate foods, and in its place establishing fresh foods, both behavior and learning patterns of the children improved. This study also supported the theory that certain behavioral disturbances of children, such as hyperactivity, is related to various foods (Feingold, 1973). Conners and Blouin (1982/1983) studied the behavioral effects of breakfast and simple sugars in normal and psychiatrically impaired children. They found that a healthy breackfast, one that is well-balanced among the five major food groups, enhanced the capacity of the children to do academic work and benefited the children emotionally. A study done by Pollitt, Lewis, Garza and Shulman (1982/1983) demonstrated that the skipping of breakfast by children had an adverse effect on the child's late morning problem-solving performance and that a relationship exists between a healthy nutritional status and a child's capacity to learn. Lindholm, Touliatos, & Wenberg (1984), taught a nutritional education program to ten to thirteen year-olds and found that while nutritional knowledge improved, dietary quality and selection of healthy foods did not improve.

There was one study which involved a 34-year-old female who had a WAIS IQ score of 57. She was taught to plan and prepare nutritious meals for her daughter and herself as well as devise a grocery list and select correct items at a supermarket. A three- and five-month follow-up showed that skills and positive changes were maintained (Sarber, Halasz, Messmer, & Lutzker, 1983).

The purpose of the current study attempted to establish a model for teaching healthy nutrition to rehabilitation clients, while concomitantly encouraging clients to develop an interest in, and learn, proper nutrition. The program was developed at a sheltered workshop where clients with a variety of medical concerns voluntarily participated in this study.

Healthy eating habits, proper nutrition selection and preparation, were taught by the remedial education teacher, a certified Special Education teacher who had no prior formal nutritional training. The guidelines described in the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's) (National Research Council, 1980), were utilized, along with recommendations regarding the buying and fixing of food, published by the National Dairy Council and Iowa State University (1985, 1986), as the foundation for the lessons. The material was taught over an eight-week period. The design of the study was a pretest/posttest design with subsequent six-week and three-month follow-up evaluations.



Twelve clients, seven males and five females, participated in the study. Their ages ranged from 23-59 years old, with a mean of 40 years old. Participant-clients were diagnosed as having a variety of multiple disabilities. Nine clients had some degree of mental retardation; four had a psychiatric diagnosis; four had other medically-related problems such as epilepsy, hypertension and alcoholism. Of the seven men, two were underweight; five were overweight by more than 20 percent of normal weight range for their age, height, and body build, placing them at risk for health (Williams, 1985). …

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