Proper Nutrition 40+
by Marie Truglio-Londrigan Ph.D., R.N.,C.S., GNP
More About Marie
At times family members will find themselves providing very complex and demanding care to parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and even their own children. It is common for the caregiver to find the situation overwhelming and very stressful particularly if their loved one requires increasing care as the days, months, and years go by. Sometimes caregivers lose site of one very important fact.
The caregiver cannot take care of their family member unless they take care of themselves first.
Caregivers are very important. They perform activities and provide support that is crucial to help their family member in many ways. These activities take time, energy, and frequently are very demanding physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Because of this it is very easy for caregivers to neglect themselves at a time when it is very important for them to make sure their own needs are being met. In order to stay healthy the caregiver must determine whether or not they are carrying out healthy life style activities. Maintaining healthy habits for a healthy life style include:
Eating right is very basic and extremely important when creating health lifestyle habits. The right nutritional choice ensures that the caregiver receives positive sources of energy so they can successfully balance the demands within their life. Proper nutrition depends on well-balanced meal planning. The wider the variety of foods within the diet the greater the chance that the caregiver will take in all the important nutrients necessary for maintaining health and preventing illness. Nutrients include some fats, proteins, simple and complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Fats are needed in the caregivers diet but in small amounts. Fats are high in calories that do not give nutrients. Foods high in fat include eggs, butter, cream, oil, and fast foods. It is best to limit the amount of fat in the diet by making low fat foods, trimming excess fat from meats, and cutting back on portions when fatty foods are on the menu.
Foods to Include in Diet
Foods to Avoid in Diet
Protein rich foods are very nutritious and provide a necessary source of energy for building body tissue and for growth, maintenance, and repair. Foods high in protein include meat, fish, and dairy products such as milk and cheese. Another source of protein includes dry peas, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Grains provide a lot of nutrients without the fat and calories. Whole-grains products pack more vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber than products made from white flour.
Whole-grain products include:
Fiber provides roughage that keeps a persons bowel movements regular and prevents constipation. Other fibers even help lower cholesterol levels.
Foods Containing Fiber Which Helps Lower Cholesterol
Foods Containing Fiber Which Helps Prevent Constipation
* It is very important to remember that if you are trying to increase fiber in your diet that you should talk to your doctor before making any changes. It is also important to make changes slowly and to drink water.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in the diet. There are both simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are high in nutrients without the fat and calories and include whole-grain cereal, vegetables, rice, and pasta. Simple carbohydrates are syrups, honey, candy, and deserts. These are high in calories and lower in nutritional value.
Vitamins are important. They help the body work efficiently. Some examples of vitamins include the following:
Minerals help built body tissue and maintain important functions. Some examples of minerals include the following:
Water intake is essential to maintain no matter how busy the caretaker is. Water composes 60% to 70% of the total body weight. Caregivers must find time to stop in their busy day and find time to drink up. Remember water alone is not the only fluid that counts. Juice, milk, soups, fruits, and Jello-O will do the job. Choose drinks with no caffeine. Caregivers are forever on the go. If this is the case bring along a refillable water bottle.
Even if the caregiver is aware of the importance of food variety it is sometimes difficult to plan nutritious meals. The time it takes to care for loved ones is often overwhelming and even if there is enough time the caregiver may feel exhausted with little energy to cook. Skipping meals is not the answer. Rather time saving tips may help.
Time Saving Tips
Keeping Food Cost Low
Many times caregivers may be living on fixed incomes. This makes it particularly difficult when shopping for two individuals especially when the caregivers family member may have special dietary needs. Careful planning may help the caregiver make healthy diet choices that go a long way.
Caregivers are responsible for caring for their loved ones and for themselves. This may sometimes seem impossible. Whenever life becomes too much to deal with call a friend or another family member. People do understand and sometimes they are looking for a way to help but feel helpless. Ask for help. There is always somewhere to turn.
- Mayo Clinic Diet
and Nutrition (weight and cholesterol tips, recipes and articles)
- How Well Are You Eating? By David Feder Better Homes and Gardens Dec. 1999 v77
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