3. Nutritional strategies

Nutritional Strategies


1. Maintain a well-balanced diet. Canada’s food guide is a good start.



2. Ensure you meet prescribed Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs)

a. Macronutrients


i. Carbohydrates:

• Most important fuel source for brain and muscles

• Should comprise 45-65% to total caloric intake for ages 4-18

• Good sources: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, yogurt

ii. Protein:

• Important for body repair

• Should comprise 10-30% of total caloric intake for ages 4-18

• In brain injury 1-1.5 mg/kg of bodyweight/day recommended

• Good source: lean meat/poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans/nuts

iii. Fats:

• Absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) for essential fatty acids

• Should comprise 25-35% to total caloric intake for ages 4-18

• Good sources: meat, fish, nuts, seeds, dairy, olive/canola oil


b. Micronutrients

i. Commonly deficient: Calcium, Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12

ii. Specific expert recommendations for brain injuries in the 1st two weeks:

• Choline-rich foods (eggs, meat, poultry, fish, cruciferous vegetables, peanuts, and dairy products)

• Creatine sources (meat, fish) or food with the amino acids used to make creatine – arginine, glycine & methionine

• Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA) or alpha-linolenic acid sources (e.g., flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, and soy)

• Zinc sources: oysters, shellfish, liver, meat, poultry, and dairy products, whole grains, legumes, wheat germ, nuts, cereals, soy products



3. Ensure you eat enough calories

a. Specific recommendations vary on a case-by-case basis but generally:

b. Active youth may require 500-1500 cal/day more versus inactive peers

c. Strategies to achieve this can include:

• 3 meals and 3-4 snacks per day

• Engaging youth in meal planning

• Keeping a dietary journal

• Consulting a dietitian


Calories Needed Daily
Age Not active Somewhat active Very active
Female Male Female Male Female Male
2-3 1000 1000-1200 1000-1200 1000-1400 1000-1400 1000-1400
4-8 1200-1400 1200-1400 1400-1600 1400-1600 1400-1800 1600-2000
9-13 1400-1600 1600-2000 1600-2000 1800-2200 1800-2200 2000-2600
14-18 1800 2000-2400 2000 2400-2800 2400 2800-3200
19-30 1800-2000 2400-2600 2000-2200 2600-2800 2400 3000
31-50 1800 2200-2400 2000 2400-2600 2200 2800-3000
51+ 1600 2000-2200 1800 2200-2400 2000-2200 2400-2800
Not active: Not much energy out. Does only light activity needed for daily life (e.g., cooking, walking to the mailbox)

Somewhat active: Some energy out. Does physical activity equal to walking quickly for 2.4-4.8 km (about 30-40 min/day). Plus, does light activity needed for daily life.

Very active: A lot of energy out. Does physical activity equal to walking quickly for more than 4.8 km (more than 40 min/day). Plus, does light activity needed for daily life.

Source : HHS/USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010



4. Aim to drink about 2 L of fluid a day or more



5. Make your calories and hydration efforts count

a. Avoid empty calories (junk food, sugary foods/drinks) and caffeine, sodas and alcohol.

b. Carb-containing sports drinks can increase risk of excessive caloric consumption and dental caries and should be avoided.

c. For example, instead of cookies and chocolate, try having unsalted nuts or a peanut butter or cheese sandwich; this will decrease the simple sugar and saturated fat and increase nutritional value


6. Refrain from alcohol, smoking or illicit substance use


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