Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? While maintaining a healthy diet can sometimes cause stress, it is extremely important- especially for Caregivers. The goal of National Nutrition Month is to refocus people’s attention on the value and benefits of making informed choices, as well as adjusting habits and behaviors. Find out more about how to get started with healthy eating below.
Eating Healthily as a Caregiver
To get you started, use the USDA’s Super Tracker as a guide to help you develop a personalized nutrition plan. Having a plan is one of the simplest ways of maintaining a healthy diet. Having a schedule and personalized plan will keep you focused on the right foods, beverages, and also save you time. All of this helps you to be a better caregiver by making it possible for you to maintain the stamina and focus needed to care for your loved one. You can do this by:
- Being conscious of your eating habits. Know what foods you typically gravitate towards when stressed or busy.
- Keeping fresh food on hand. Having fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy snack options will keep you full and prevent the over indulgence of foods high in fat and cholesterol.
- Prepare pre-made meals. Get your breakfast, lunch, and dinner ready the night before if possible. Leave the fresh cut foods for the day of.
Healthy Eating for the Care Recipient
The importance of having a routine and making informed choices is essential for an aging adult in order to prevent cardiovascular disease and many other conditions. The American Heart Association provides a range of recommendations for healthy diets and lifestyles. In summary, to make informed decisions you should consider the following:
- Variety is essential. Have and consume a variety of different types of fresh (or frozen) vegetables and fruits.
- Watch out for sugar and sodium. Read the nutrition label and monitor your intake of sodium and sugar throughout the day.
- Pick the lean meat. Make sure to select the leanest option available and monitor your flavor boosters or condiments (i.e. butter, salt, etc.).
- Monitor and reduce saturated-and-trans fat intake. There are many food options available today. If you are not sure, read the nutrition label or ask for assistance. When in doubt go with what you know.
There are several best practices to make eating healthy easier for elderly adults. As for the caregiver you can set the example by maintaining your own healthy diet. Make your commitment today to make health informed decisions when making your next meal.