It is important to implement an effective diet plan for people suffering from schizophrenia. Patients tend to eat unhealthy food, which in turn worsens their mental condition. The foods that support mental health and reduce symptoms in schizophrenia have to be introduced in the daily menu systematically. Some tips to make a healthy diet plan for schizophrenic patients:
1. Start by identifying the needs
Dietary needs vary a lot from person to person, and they have to be met with a plan that suits the individual. The plan has to be introduced after careful observation of the existing food habits and their effect on the health of a schizophrenic.
2. Plan meals to include all nutrients
Whole grains, proteins, essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals should be part of every meal.
3. Create a menu for a week
The menu has to provide for three meals, at least two snacks, and drinks for a day. Breakfast has to be the heaviest, with cereals of whole grains, milk, cheese, butter, fruits, nuts, and eggs. Lunch should include different vegetables, lentils, legumes, fish or chicken, and yogurt. Dinner should have different types of soups, porridge, pasta, stews, fruits, and bread. Snack choices can be made from whole-grain crackers, unsalted nuts, sprouts, yogurt, green salads, pancakes, baked potatoes, and cheese sandwiches. Drinks have to be mild, like herbal teas, fresh juices, and smoothies.
4. Involve in the menu preparation
People with schizophrenia, suffering from anxiety, mood disorders or panic attacks are likely to feel helpless and lonely. If the symptoms are mild, they need an activity to keep themselves normal. Involving the patients in activities in the kitchen has proved beneficial to many. Planning some good recipes and talking about favorite foods is a great stress buster. There is also a greater chance of patients following the diet plans and cooperating to make their health better.
5. Make fruits and vegetables part of meals and snacks
Let it be a big portion of the diet. Red, orange, yellow, and dark green fruits and vegetables provide necessary nutrients and help the patient to be energetic and healthy.
6. Limit saturated fat and sugar in the menu
It is important to limit or avoid oily, fatty food or junk food in their menu. Eating habits that result in the patients becoming overweight or obese have to be replaced with a menu that is nutritious and filling.
7. Try to eat at home more often
When eating out, choose safe food which does not trigger symptoms.
8. Have an alternative
It is important to monitor if the plan is being followed. If there are any gaps between the actual intake and the diet plan, the reasons have to be found and replacements must be introduced.
9. Check that the diet plan does not include any allergens
Food intolerance is seen in many cases of schizophrenia, and hence it is important to identify the food that triggers or worsens the symptoms.
10. Drink adequate water
Dehydration, even if mild, can cause tiredness, headaches, and mood swings. The difficulty to concentrate or irritability causes behavioral changes, worsening the symptoms of schizophrenia.