(Family Features) Family caregivers of people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities sometimes spend more time thinking about those they care for than themselves. It’s important to remember that self-care is essential to providing good care to others and must include eating well.
Healthy eating can be especially challenging for caregivers who often have limited time to shop and cook. Fast food, snacks and comfort meals are tempting but usually lack healthy amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
In addition to preventing low energy, muscle loss, illnesses and unplanned weight change, a healthy diet may help reduce the stress and fatigue that can come with caring for a loved one.
These tips from the Administration for Community Living can help caregivers take steps toward better nutrition without adding to already full to-do lists:
- Drink healthy beverages at each meal and 2-3 times between meals. Water, milk, juice (to replace missing fruits and vegetables) or non-sweetened drinks are all better-for-you options.
- Get enough protein, a key nutrient that helps build and repair tissues. Consider these ideas for increasing your protein intake:
- Eat a high-protein food like fish, chicken or eggs at every meal
- Try plant proteins like nuts, peanut butter, beans and tofu
- Eat your protein first at meals
- Eat low- or non-fat dairy products and use Greek yogurt
- Opt for cheese at snack time
- Top your food with chopped nuts like almonds
- Drink a liquid supplement, like a meal replacement or protein shake, if foods alone do not supply all the nutrients you need. A health care provider can make specific dietary suggestions based on your unique health needs, diet and conditions.
For more information and ideas, talk to your doctor or dietitian and visit eatright.org .
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