The Sit Smart Diet: First WFPB Nutrition Guide For Wheelchair Users!

April 8, 2019 – Dutch rehabilitation doctor and author and nutritionist with spinal cord injury publish first ever evidence-based, whole food plant based  nutrition guide for wheelchair users. 

What exactly happens in your body when you are wheelchair dependent? Why do you have an increased risk of obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, heartfailure and depression? What are the right proteins for you? How many calories can you still eat? Why is a whole food plant based diet superior for wheelchair users?

The Sit Smart Diet provides answers to all these questions. It is the first whole food plant based nutritional guide that specifically addresses the unique needs of people with spinal cord injury (or a wheelchair-bound existence due to other neurological causes). It is based on the most recent scientific insights and international nutrition guidelines, and the years of experience of the authors. The Sit Smart Diet is a state of the art, comprehensive, practical nutrition guide specially written for people with SCI, and their families, friends, caregivers, and health and medical professionals. 

Note for editors: for more information please contact Joris Obenhuijsen: + 31 (0) 6 – 54 99 89 92

The Sit Smart Diet

Additional information

Forgotten group 

There are diets and cookbooks for almost every chronic disease, but for people with a wheelchair-bound existence there has been nothing to date. “People with paraplegia are really a forgotten group,” state the authors. They thought it was time for that to change. Because the health risks of this particular population are huge. For example, 75% of all wheelchair users are obese. People with paraplegia also have a very high risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, urinary tract infections, intestinal problems, thrombosis, osteoporosis, heart attack, stroke, chronic fatigue, poorly healing wounds,  and depression. People with paraplegia often do not have one, but many of these chronic conditions at the same time.

A wheelchair life leads to an accumulation of serious, often life-threatening and recurring health conditions.

Living with spinal cord injury is top sport

What most people don’t realise is that when you get a handicap, real health problems only just begin. A wheelchair life leads to an accumulation of serious, often life-threatening and recurring health conditions. These are also called “secondary complications”. The average person with paraplegia is confronted with no less than 7 secondary health complications per year. Life with spinal cord injury is top sport. As a result, the body of a person with SCI may already be worn out by the age of 40.

There are diets and cookbooks for almost every chronic disease, but for people with a wheelchair-bound existence there has been nothing to date.

Why dietary adjustment is necessary

After a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), the energy requirements of the body decline and the metabolism becomes sluggish due to insulin resistance. It is very easy to gain weight if eating habits do not change. Being overweight and having a SCI impacts on many important factors such as, skin integrity, equipment (eg. wheelchair, hoist), bladder & bowel management, mobility, transferring, dressing and independence. People with SCI have a greater tendency to heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight, smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol increases the risks further.  In addition people with SCI have a high risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency – due to injury, prolonged stress and the use of medication. The common secondary health complications also increase the body’s demand for additional nutrients, and the disturbed metabolism requires a bold adaptation of one’s eating habits.

Sit Smart Dieet

Knowledge gap

Up till now there was little or no know-how and experience in the field of SCI / a wheelchair bound life & nutrition. “Both doctors and dietitians are not trained in nutrition & paraplegia and generally do not even know that the calorie intake should be limited in someone with paraplegia or that animal protein should be replaced by predominantly plant based proteïn”. Eating plant based is the best anti inflammatory diet and is a very effective recipe for sustained weight loss, because it combines high fiber and water content with low calorie density. The need for innovation and a switch in thinking about nutrition and protein source is therefore high, according to the authors.

The Sit Smart Diet

The authors

The authors know what they are talking about. Dr. Kees Hein Woldendorp (1963) has been a rehabilitation doctor for over 25 years, specializing in paraplegia, and sees daily what people with paraplegia are struggling with. “In recent years it became increasingly clear to me that a large part of the disorders that I encounter in daily practice are directly or indirectly nutrition- and lifestyle related. People can literally eat themselves sick, but can also eat themselves healthy again”.

Annemarie de Vries-Postma (1969) sustained a paraplegia at the age of 11, and has been experiencing for almost 40 years now what a challenge it is to live well and age healthy and vital with such a serious disability. Since 1995 she has been writing books about personal growth and self-development and since 2006 books about nutrition. As of 2015, she teaches (rehabilitation) doctors and dieticians at home and abroad about a wheelchair bound existence, chronic disorders & whole food plant based nutrition. “I became a spinal cord injury & nutrition expert despite myself; initially to save my own life”.

It is time for innovation in rehabilitation medicine.


“Our mission is to help wheelchair users use diet to prevent or reverse secondary complications in SCI. Our goal is to show the enormous benefits that can be achieved with optimum nutrition, and to show why a plant based diet is superior to an animal based diet for people with chronic conditions” the authors say. With this book (and the accompanying first ever comprehensive lifestyle intervention for wheelchair users GLI SIT SMART) they also want to provide impetus for the reforms  needed in rehabilitation. “It is time for innovation in rehabilitation medicine,” according to the authors. “Rehabilitation centers and nursing homes work with outdated nutrition guidelines that urgently need updating according the current scientific knowledge – and that are clearly not effective either.  With everything that is now scientifically known about nutrition and chronic diseases, it is high time for new guidelines, to teach current and future health professionals on how they can use whole food plant based food to prevent and treat chronic disease, and to make nutrition an integral part of a person’s treatment process “.

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