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Access Press - Minnesota's Disability Community Newspaper

Happy Thanksgiving – For people with cerebral palsy, gluttony isn’t necessarily a sin

by // November 9th, 2012

Thanksgiving is coming up soon. A dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and dessert of pumpkin pie, will likely be served. For people who have ambulatory cerebral palsy (CP) intake of calories should not be an issue.

Medical professionals often compare having CP to walking up stairs all day in terms of a person using estimated twice as much energy just walking, as someone who does not have the condition, uses walking up stairs. There are advantages to having ambulatory cerebral palsy: due to the amount of energy they use to walk, people who have the condition burn approximately three to five times more calories over the course of a day than people who do not have it. A result of burning calories by using energy, being overweight is not particularly a concern.

Regulation of weight is an issue in American culture. Many people in the United States have issues with weight, whether it is being overweight or underweight. Regulating weight can be difficult even when it would not seem like an issue. For example, a person who is not overweight may be conscious of how many calories they take in. People who do not have CP might worry about gaining weight even if they are in good shape physically. Being weight-conscious can lead people to eat foods they think are healthy, but they actually are not, such as, foods marketed as low-fat or non-fat.

It is not as if gluttony is a sin. It is actually good for individuals who have ambulatory cerebral palsy, to consistently eat portions of high-calorie foods because they will not be able to hold the calories in for long periods of time. Whatever they eat, they burn off calories.

Calorie burning has led to concern among nutritionists about malnutrition in people who have ambulatory cerebral palsy. Depending on their level of ambulation, people who have ambulatory cerebral palsy might burn off calories quickly and therefore be low in weight, so weight gain is healthy for them. This means people who have CP can eat foods that people may be wary of, such as a meal consisting of things like ribs, a baked potato, and corn, and still be able to devour a hot fudge sundae for dessert without having to worry about calories.

Who would have thought it? In a culture concerned with weight regulation, having ambulatory cerebral palsy can be an advantage; it is necessary to eat high-calorie foods on a regular basis and there is not much concern about unhealthy weight gain. A disability that requires a large amount of energy use can be a good thing.

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One Response to “Happy Thanksgiving – For people with cerebral palsy, gluttony isn’t necessarily a sin”

  1. Andrea says:

    cerebral palsy is NOT a “good thing” no matter how many extra calories you can eat!

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