Diet and Parkinson's
If you have Parkinson’s disease there is no specific diet that you should follow, but you should find it helpful to maintain as healthy a diet as you can.
Generally, the rules for following a healthy diet are:
- eat a varied diet
- eat healthy portions of foods
- eat the right balance of food groups
- eat regular meals
- drink plenty of fluid
- eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
Eating a balanced diet will improve your health and may help to ease various problems you may be experiencing, including constipation, low mood, reduced bone density and weight changes.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Parkinson’s Disease and unintentional weight loss
People with Parkinson’s disease can sometimes find that they lose weight unintentionally, due to poor appetite, increased energy expenditure, swallowing difficulties or difficulties with preparing meals. This can increase your risk of malnutrition and its associated risks. Below are some tips for you to try if you find that you are losing weight and do not wish to, or if you have a poor appetite.
- Eat little and often: Try eating smaller meals with snacks and nourishing drinks in between.
- Include small snacks in between meals to help to increase your overall calories, e.g. biscuits, crisps, scones, teacakes, cheese and crackers, crumpets, mini sausage rolls/scotch eggs/ samosas.
- Choose full-fat/ full-calorie foods and drinks, in place of low-fat or ‘diet’ foods and drinks
- Try having a pudding or dessert once or twice a day, such as full-fat yoghurt, ice cream, cake, custard, rice pudding.
- Include nutritious drinks: use full fat milk or full calorie milk alternatives to make milkshakes, smoothies, hot chocolate, milky coffees.
- Enrich your food by adding extra cheese, butter, olive oil, mayonnaise or cream to your existing meals
5 steps to a nourishing diet
Enriching and fortifying your food
When to seek further support and advice:
We recommend that you seek advice from your GP or Parkinson’s team if you lose more than 5-10% of your body weight, if you are underweight (BMI < 20kg/m2), or if you continue to lose weight despite the advice above. You can use the BAPEN nutritional screening tool to check your risk. This malnutrition screening tool will tell you if you are at low, medium or high risk, and give you first-line advice to help you overcome some of these problems. If your result is high risk it’s important to contact your GP or Parkinson’s team and request a referral to a dietitian for individual advice and support.
Some of the advice above may not be suitable for you if you are experiencing swallowing difficulties (dysphagia). If you have been diagnosed with dysphagia and are experiencing unintentional weight loss, then please request a referral to a dietitian for individual advice and support.