Being a caregiver requires that you spend a good deal of time tending to the needs of your loved one or patient. It is not uncommon for us as caregivers to forego our own interests for the needs and benefit of the person we are caring for. However, sometimes as a caregiver you become so involved in caring for someone else that you neglect taking care of yourself. This is especially true when it comes to healthy eating habits. Many caregivers may opt for fast-food or worse yet, no food, as the demands of the daily responsibilities wear on. Sadly, self-neglect at a nutritional level simply increases your risk of health problems.
The following are a few tips to make sure that your daily caregiving routine does not circumvent your own needs for healthy eating.
- Plan out your meals. No, this does not mean you have to meticulously count calories and create a three-course dinner every night. It simply means that you should plan ahead. For example, are your Mondays notoriously busy, leaving you feeling exhausted at the end of the day? Then cook a large healthy meal on Sunday night and save the leftovers in overnight containers. You can also do this with fresh fruits and vegetables you buy from the store, since they are perfect for healthy snacks throughout the day.
- Don’t skip breakfast. Mornings can be hectic, but nutritionists agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you fail to kickstart your metabolism in the morning, you cheat yourself out of much needed energy. Additionally, failure to eat in the morning can actually contribute to weight gain as your body begins to hold onto fat and eat away at muscle as it secures itself from the sudden drop in nutrition. If you just don’t have the time to cook a full breakfast, preparing a simply protein shake can give your body the fuel it needs to get moving. A nutrient reach morning meal is key to maintaining a strong energy foundation throughout your entire day.
- Snacking can be good for you. Traditional wisdom says to eat three meals a day, but in most cases it’s actually better to eat four or five small meals instead. This way your body doesn’t start prompting you into overeating because you feel too hungry. A balanced breakfast followed up by a cup of yogurt or a granola bar a couple hours later won’t leave you starving by lunchtime. In fact, you’ll actually eat a smaller lunch. If you tend to forget to eat, go ahead and set reminder alarms on your phone and/or computer to nudge you towards your healthy snacks.
Check out great advice related to your best food strategies from our March 12, 2012 Caregiver Hour Radio Show which included guest Liat Golan, founder of Bell Well Nutrition. She is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist. CLICK HERE to listen to the MP3 archive
For those of you who are local to the Tampa area, make sure to check out Nature’s Food Patch. In addition to a wide variety of healthy food choices, they also host a wide spectrum of community wellness programs that can help you in creating positive dietary habits.