Your doctor may require you to spend time in bed while recovering from an illness or injury. Bed rest is also often prescribed for women having difficulties with their pregnancies. There are a number of complications that can come from an extended period of inactivity. At the same time, bed rest may be the most efficient way for you to heal. By following a planned diet, you may be able to avoid weight gain and other side effects of bed rest.
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Your bed rest requirements may vary. For example, you may be allowed to get up for meals or walk around your house. In extreme cases, you may have to stay lying down for a set term. According to Hendrick Medical Center, it's especially important to maintain a healthy balanced diet while on bedrest. Make sure your daily diet consists of four servings of fruit and vegetables, four servings of starch and grains, four servings of milk and three servings of meat or protein.
If you are relegated to bed rest because of a digestive disorder such as diverticulitis, you may have to rely on a liquid diet for nourishment to give your colon a break. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the diet may only be required for a few days until your severe pain subsides and you are off bed rest. A liquid diet may consist of protein shakes, pre-made drinks with added nutrients, fruit juice and dairy products. As your pain subsides, fibrous foods such as bread, vegetables and fruit may be introduced slowly back into your diet.
Fats and Oils
While recovering, you may undergo side effects of bed rest that can be mitigated by including foods high in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Muscle atrophy and bone loss are complications commonly associated with bed rest and inactivity. According to NASA, eating a diet high in fish, nuts and olive oil may help you retain bone and muscle during your bed rest. Salmon is particularly high in the healthy fats and is a staple in the diet of astronauts who often must spend considerable amounts of down time when they can't exercise.
Whether you're in bed due to pregnancy complication or for other medical reasons, you can take steps to avoid heartburn and other digestive problems typically associated with eating in bed. Avoid spicy or fatty foods and try to break up your meals into five or six small meals throughout the day. Eat slowly and sit up for an hour after eating if your doctor allows. You can prevent constipation by drinking 8 to 12 cups of fluids each day, preferably between meals and include high-fiber foods in your meals such as whole grains and fresh fruit.
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Treatment Options for Herniated Disc
- Hendrick Medical Center: The Bedrest Connection
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
- NASA: Of Fish, Astronauts and Bone Health; Dr. Scott M. Smith
- MayoClinic.com: Bed Rest During Pregnancy
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.