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6 months ago · · Comments Off on Healthy Nutrition for Resilient Caregivers

Healthy Nutrition for Resilient Caregivers

Are you a caregiver to a senior loved one, children, or someone who is incapacitated? Do you feel that the chronic stresses of caregiving are leading you to skip meals, eat unhealthy junk food, or are causing you to gain or lose weight? Do you find yourself stressing about what you do or don’t eat? Are you frequenting restaurants or fast food establishments for a “quick bite” between providing care for others? You likely are as caregiving is a full-time commitment that shifts the focus from yourself to the one(s) you are caring for, leaving you with no time or capacity for self-care. Neglecting your own health-promoting behaviors can lead to physical and emotional problems. Fortunately, there are many resilience-building strategies that you can do that do not require much time or energy, and good nutrition is one of them.

Overcome Unhealthy Eating Barriers

Do any of the following apply to you? If so, this is your sign to change your eating and health habits today. A poor diet or diet choices can lead to so many health challenges, especially when you are responsible for the care of a loved one. 

Overindulging: You eat too many processed foods. You indulge in sweets or salty snacks or eat quick meals from restaurants and fast food places.

Under-eating: You skip meals and don’t drink enough water

Lack of self-control: You are overeating to the point of feeling stuffed or are a frequent “snacker”

Emotional eating: You eat when you are feeling depressed, anxious, frustrated, tired, bored, lonely, or angry

Not planning ahead: When someone suggests meal prep, you make excuses like, “I’m too busy. I’m too tired. It’s too expensive to eat healthy foods”

We know it is often easier said than done, but once you replace these choices and behaviors with more positive and nutritious ones, you will see great improvements in your health, mood, and energy, thus increasing your resilience for caregiving.

A Good Meal Makes All The Difference

Eating nutritious food undoubtedly promotes better health while building the strength and stamina needed to provide care for your loved ones. It also helps decrease your risk of minor or severe illnesses, ranging from infections to diabetes or even premature death. The quality of the food you eat has been unequivocally related to better overall health as the nutrients from food give your immune system a boost, allowing it to fight illnesses if they do arise. It’s no surprise that poor nutrition can have a detrimental effect on your health, causing more prolonged illness recovery times, increased likelihood of infections, and an increased risk of falls, to name just a few.

The Mediterranean Way 

Here at Tribute, we are firm believers in the Mediterranean diet as part of a healthy diet as it has proven benefits to the mind and body. The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional food that people from the Mediterranean region eat, including France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. Many researchers have found that people from those countries were very healthy and had a lower risk of chronic conditions. The diet is very flexible and not as strict as others as it encourages fruit, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grain, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats such as olive oil. It places a heavy emphasis on avoiding processed foods, added sugar, and refined grains. Many of our residents are already vulnerable to illnesses and diseases, so we use the Mediterranean approach to improve their health and protect against chronic diseases like heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.

Nutritional Strategies That Work

Research has proven that a well-balanced and nutritious diet can work wonders to improve your overall mood and energy levels. Here are some steps you can take toward better nutrition:

  • When preparing a meal, think of the rainbow. Choose many colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Ensure you eat whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products
  • Reduce your intake of red meats
  • Avoid foods high in sugar, salt, or saturated fats such as butter
  • Control your portion size
  • Drink the long recommended (8) eight-ounce glasses a day
  • Avoid sugary drinks that provide no nutritional value
  • Limit snacks or comfort foods

We have compiled a list of foods that follow the Mediterranean diet and that are heart-healthy and promote general health benefits:

Seeds: Unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Nuts: Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and walnuts

mediterraean diet 2

Nut butter: Peanut and almond

Grains: oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, corn, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and pasta

Vegetables: broccoli, kale, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts, onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes

Fruits: oranges, pears, apples, grapes, dates, melons, figs, peaches, bananas, and strawberries

Fish and seafood: tuna, salmon, mackerel, shrimp, clams, mussels, crab, oysters, trout, and sardines

Poultry: turkey, chicken, and duck

Eggs: chicken, duck, and quail eggs

Dairy: milk, yogurt, and cheese

Herbs and spices: basil, mint, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, rosemary, and sage

Healthy fats: avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, and olives

Don’t Wait For It To Be Too Late, Initiate Healthy Habits Today

None of these ideas are difficult to implement, but choosing them can be. Healthy eating is rooted in self-discipline and patterns to build your strength and stamina. Protecting your health and general well-being benefits you and those in your care. You can use the nutritional strategies we have promoted in this article to boost your resilience and preserve your capacity to care.

Join Our Caregiver Support Group

Our approach to senior living and memory care at Tribute is driven by science, research, and compassion to provide your loved ones with the best care possible. We love sharing the knowledge we have acquired through our journey to provide the best care possible. If you would like to learn more or share experiences with other caregivers, you are invited to join our support group. Check out our calendar for upcoming meeting dates. Click here to sign up for our email list and monthly newsletter, where we publish and share blogs and resources on a wide variety of topics related to senior living and care.

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