Help to Manage Chronic Disease With Medically Tailored Meals

By Bushra Davila, MBA, RD, LDN |

Many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease, require careful management of certain nutrients like sodium, sugar, or cholesterol. Medically tailored meals can be customized to control these nutrients, helping individuals manage their conditions and improve their health outcomes. Chronic disease can impact a person’s quality of life, and managing dietary needs can be stressful and time-consuming. Medically tailored meals alleviate this burden by providing ready-to-eat or easy-to-prepare meals. 

Proper nutrition is vital to help your loved ones treat and slow their chronic condition progression. Research shows those with a chronic illness who receive nutrient-dense meals have lower average monthly health care costs (31% lower), fewer admissions (50% reduction), and shorter lengths of stay (37% shorter) when admitted.

One way to ensure adults get the right meal for their condition is to provide access to medically tailored meals. Here are some examples:

Diabetes – A doctor or Registered Dietitian may have set a goal of how many carbohydrate servings to be consumed at each meal. Eating a consistent number of carbohydrate foods will help manage blood glucose.

Meals for Weight Reduction – These meals generally have less than 650 calories, more than 20 grams of protein, and less than 35% of calories from fat, with minimized refined sugar and at least 7 grams of fiber.

Chronic Kidney Disease – Meals created by Registered Dietitians will meet the guidelines for individuals with chronic kidney disease receiving dialysis (National Kidney Foundation Stage 5D).

Congestive Heart Failure – Those with CHF must restrict sodium and fluid intake. These meals should have less than 500 milligrams of sodium and fewer than 150 milliliters of fluid.

Dysphagia (Swallowing Disorders) – These individuals need flavorful and nutritious meals in the required consistency.

HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Wounds, or Malnutrition – These individuals need increased calories and protein. Nutrient-dense meals with more than 700 calories and 35 grams of protein are recommended.

It is important to note that while medically tailored meals can be highly beneficial, they are typically part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medical care, physical activity, and other lifestyle modifications. Always consult with your healthcare professional, such as a Registered Dietitian or doctor, to determine the most appropriate dietary interventions for you.

Many Medicare Advantage health plans provide medically tailored meals to their members after hospitalization. Contact your plan to see if you, or your loved one, are eligible. Go here to see our medically tailored meals menu.