Nutritional – Special Diet


You are all aware that a normal diet satisfies the nutritional needs of a healthy individual. But when a person falls sick there is a malfunctioning of parts of the body, therefore, the nutritional needs of a sick person changes. For example, in diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin which is needed to digest sugars. In such a case, the presence of the normal amount of sugar in the food will be harmful to the system. In jaundice, there is malfunctioning of the liver, hence digestion of fats is affected and the presence of normal amounts of fats in the diet will be harmful to health. In the case of diarrhea, there is a loss of body fluids and salts with every passage of stool. Also, the digestive system is unable to cope with solid food eaten.

Under these circumstances, if one goes on eating normal food the system will be burdened and damaged. Hence, there is a need to modify the food eaten. Can you suggest some more reasons for modifying diet during diseases? Here are some reasons:

  1. To maintain a good nutritional status
  2. To correct nutritional deficiencies
  3. To provide a change in the consistency of diet: liquid or semi-solid
  4. To bring about change in the body weight, if required.

What is meant by ‘Therapeutic Diet’?

A therapeutic diet is a special diet given to a person suffering from a disease, to facilitate recovery. It is a modification of the normal diet.

Does the change in diet help the person to recover from disease? Yes, certainly. When sugars are withdrawn from food, insulin is not required to digest them. When fats are taken off the diet, the liver can relax and take time to recover. Drinking fluids certainly help to overcome losses of water and minerals.

Some points to remember

While modifying the diet of a patient, keep the following points in mind:

  1. Do not plan a completely different diet because:
  • Diets based on a person’s daily diet have better acceptance.
  • Such diet does not make a patient feel that he/she is eating something completely different from the family members.
  • It is difficult to prepare.

  1. Try to include only those foods which are liked by the patient, otherwise, food may not be eaten at all.
  2. Serve the meal in an attractive way to make them feel like eating.

The types of modifications that may have to be made are as follows:

  • In diet consistency
  • In nutrient content
  • In interval and frequency of feeding


  1. Modifications in diet consistency

In some diseases, the thickness of the food has to be changed. The food can then be served in two consistencies:

  • Liquid
  • Semi-solid

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to eat normal food. For example, in diarrhea and fever, you serve a liquid diet. This liquid diet includes milk, fruit juices, coconut water, tea, lassi, soups, cold drinks, etc. When one is little better you can serve curd, custard, fruits, bread, cooked vegetables, etc.

  1. Modifications in nutrient content

Depending on the nature of the diseases, modifications may need to be made in one or more nutrients in the diet. The modifications can be in terms of an increase or decrease in the amount of the nutrient. For example, salt has to be reduced in high blood pressure, intake of carbohydrates has to be restricted in case of diabetes and fluid intake has to be increased in the case of diarrhea.

  1. Modifications in interval and frequency of feeding

Normally you eat 3-4 meals a day, that is, breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner. In sickness, you find it difficult to eat the amount you usually eat at one time. However, your body must get all the nutrients in the correct amounts. Small amounts of food at intervals of 2-3 hours and as many as 8-10 small meals in a day instead of 3-4 meals facilitates a speedy recovery.

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