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Healthy Eating Tips and Resources for Persons With Disabilities

Eating well enhances our well-being and health. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommends about 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day. Amounts can be adjusted to meet individual needs and recommendations. Try to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and during snack times. In fact, the more, the better because fruits and vegetables are natural sources of important nutrients such as fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. For tips, recipes and other information, go to

Eat a Variety!

Remember, too, that different forms of fruits and vegetables count – you can try fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juices. By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in all colors, it assures a variety of nutrients in your daily diet and helps prevent chronic disease and illnesses.

Enjoy the Benefits!

Adding certain nutrients to your diet may provide important health benefits. While there are many nutrients in fruits and vegetables, the more common ones are:

  • Fiber -- Has been shown to lower risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Magnesium -- Supports muscle and nerve function, a steady heart rhythm and a healthy immune system.
  • Folate -- Plays an important role in making new body cells by helping to produce DNA and RNA, the cell’s master plan for cell reproduction.
  • Potassium -- Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.
  • Vitamins A and C -- Helps keep eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections.

Cooking Tips*

To make food preparation easier, less time consuming and more convenient, try these tips:

  • Bottled salad dressings make delicious marinades for vegetables. Be sure to look for lower fat options.

  • Cook vegetables with the least amount of water to preserve both nutrients and flavor. Steaming in the microwave is a handy and easy way to retain nutrients.

  • Alternate periods of food preparation with periods of rest.

  • Utensils can be adapted with enlarged grips by placing cylindrical foam on the handles. Using enlarged grips makes gripping easier and less stressful on finger joints.

Start Today!

The following easy to prepare recipes* will assist you in adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

Five-Cup Fruit Salad (serves 6)

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

Combine coconut, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and marshmallows in bowl; mix well. Stir in sour cream or yogurt. Chill covered for 12 hours.

Bean and Tomato Soup (Serves 4)

  • 1 16 oz. can stewed tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup cooked ham, ground or chopped
  • 1 24 oz. jar Great Northern Beans

Combine undrained tomatoes, ham and beans in microwave-safe dish; mix well. Microwave on high until heated through, stirring once. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve with corn bread or fruit muffins.

* Cooking tips and recipes taken from Help Yourself: Recipes and Resources from the Arthritis Foundation.

Join local cooking classes and attend community cooking demonstrations. Nutrition programs offered by the University of Illinois Extension help participants learn to eat nutritious foods, spend their food dollars wisely and keep their food safe. The following are some of the classes offered.

  • My Pyramid: From Fruits to Grains -- Participants learn about My Pyramid and the recommended daily servings and portion sizes for each food group.

  • Vary Your Veggies -- Participants will learn how to select and store vegetables in various ways.

  • Focus on Fruits -- Participants will learn about the importance of fruit in the diet and how to incorporate more fruits into their daily meals.

  • Dining With Diabetes -- In this three-part nutrition series, participants will learn important information on how to prepare food, including desserts, main dishes, and side dishes when they have diabetes. Participants will taste food and receive recipes at each session.

For more information about nutrition classes in your area, visit the University of Illinois Extension Web site at

This information sheet is prepared by the Illinois Department of Public Health with a goal of promoting health and preventing secondary conditions among citizens with disabilities. Funding is provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a cooperative agreement. To learn more about the program and how to become involved, call 217 -782-3300 or TTY 800-547-0466.


535 W. Jefferson St., Second Floor Springfield, IL 62761
Phone: 217-782-3300
Fax: 217-782-1235 TTY 800-547-0466