Looking after yourself
Immediately after spinal cord injury, most people tend to experience dramatic weight changes and normally lose a lot of weight.
This is because the body is under a lot of stress at the time of the initial trauma, and so your body’s metabolism (how fast the body burns calories) works quicker to provide energy and nutrients to heal the body and fight off infections.
At this point your body is burning off calories very quickly and so you lose a lot of weight – in some cases up to 2 stone.
Then over time your body’s metabolism slows down because you become inactive and your muscle tissue is replaced by fat tissue. It is much easier to become overweight by overeating even a little, as you are no longer burning off so many calories.
This means your body needs fewer calories each day, otherwise this change in the body’s metabolism contributes to weight gain for many individuals living with SCI.
Eating habits become especially important in preventing unwanted weight gain. The goal is to get enough nutrients needed for health without consuming a lot of calories.