You are what you eat. As old-fashioned and corny as it sounds, it’s true. If you don’t feed your body and your mind well, the stress and strain of caregiving will take a much greater toll. Here are some tips on getting the best nutrition for the least amount of effort. Once you start eating right, it will be easier to get your loved one started on some heart-healthy, nutritious habits. Set a goal to take small steps to improve the quality of your diet. You may want to think of starting with a goal to eat 80 percent healthy. It will be easier to succeed at first, and you can use the other 20 percent for whatever makes you happy and including an occasional special treat.
Top Food Tips
- Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.
- Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.
- Select fat-free, 1 percent fat and low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
- To lower cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fat.
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.
- Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on your portion sizes.
This content was last reviewed on 12/28/2011.