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Brain Injuries

Fueling Your Body after a TBI: Healthy Eating and Meal Planning

Fueling Your Body after a TBI: Healthy Eating and Meal Planning

So now that you have a time to go to bed, a time to get up, a time to rest and even a reason to get up, you’re going to find yourself hungry - now is the time to go shopping!

Food is something that has worried me in the past. It sounds really complicated when people talk about protein, carbohydrates, nutrients, vitamin supplements. It was never something I even thought about in the past but now I have an injury (and I’m getting older!) I suddenly thought I better make sure I am fueling my body in the right way.

What I try to follow now is the Eatwell Guide. Basically, every meal you eat should consist of a third protein (meat/fish/beans/lentils/pulses), a third starchy carbohydrates (potatoes/pasta/ rice) and the rest fruit and vegetables (the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the better).

Don’t overcomplicate things and frighten yourself. If you put effort in now things will be easier later so take time out to think of meals you can have for your breakfast, your lunch and your evening meal (let’s not have the dinner or tea debate!), writing the list of ingredients after each meal. Then when it comes to planning your week, you can just pick from the list and add them to your plan.

Here are a few examples of what I use:

Breakfast options:

  • Musili with milk, berries/bananas
  • Porridge with coconut milk, blueberries/raspberries
  • Cereal with semi skimmed milk
  • Lunch options:
  • Soup and breadroll
  • Poached eggs on whole meal toast, Philadelphia, smoked salmon
  • 5% fat quarter pounder burger, low fat cheese, lettuce, tomato,

Evening meal options:

  • Salmon, sweet potatoes mash and green vegetables
  • Chicken, rice, broccoli, Nando’s sauce
  • Pasta and Bolognese
Snack options:
  • Yogurt
  • Handful of almonds
  • Piece of fruit
  • Chocolate

Now we need to plan what food you’re going to eat at what time in the week, so you guessed it, its back to your weekly plan. Now for each day you can simply choose what you’re going to eat from your premade lists of breakfast, lunch and dinner (or breakfast, dinner and tea depending on how Northern you are!).

As an example, I’ll use what I ate yesterday:

  • Breakfast: Porridge, banana, blueberries, coffee
  • Lunch: whole meal toast, Philadelphia, smoked salmon, poached eggs
  • Dinner: Pasta, Bolognese (mince, onion, fresh tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, stock cubes) fresh basil, cheese)
  • Snacks: yogurt, almonds, Dairy Milk

So that was what I ate yesterday. It’s not the worst diet in the world, could do without the Dairy Milk but come on! So you will need to do something similar to the above for every day of the week then convert it into a shopping list. Imagine the layout of the supermarket where you shop and lay out your shopping list to match. My shopping list that I use is the same order as the stock is laid out in the Tesco where I shop. At first there is the fruit and veg, then bakery, then fresh, tins, spices etc., bathroom/cleaning and leave an extra section for miscellaneous items (like batteries for example). Then you go through every meal and write the ingredients separately. So for example:









fresh basil



smoked salmon









stock cubes



You then do the same for each meal of the week to come up with a full shopping list. This method ensures you only buy what you need, minimising spending and food waste. Also get yourself some Tupperware containers and whenever you cook a meal make sure you cook more than you need - then you can fill the containers and freeze them so that future meals you can just stick them in the microwave – cook once, eat twice (or more!).

Things that are planned relieve you from stress. If this doesn’t go exactly to plan, don’t be like me and call yourself a failure for not even being able to follow a simple plan, just do your best with it. Maybe you do something like this anyway, but I was taught this method by my occupational therapist Julie after my head injury.

Listen to our Podcast, Brain Injury Bites: An interview with Julie Meighan:  occupational therap

I don’t always follow this plan 100% of the time as life gets in the way but I use it a lot and it definitely helps. Planning what you will eat in advance will not only save you money and waste, but it eliminates those bad decisions when you are hungry and you just eat a big bowl of cereal. It also saves energy because as silly as it sounds, I can use a large amount of energy just choosing what I should buy when on the go. Give it a go you’ll be glad that you did.

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