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 10 Food Tips
- Eat a wide variety of foods to be sure you get all the nutrients your body needs.
- Choose lean meats, poultry without skin, and fish at least twice per week. Prepare them without added saturated and trans fat. Cuts of red meat and pork labeled ‘loin’ and ‘round’ usually have the least amount of fat. Many fish, such as salmon, trout and herring, contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Switch to whole-grain, high-fiber foods, such as whole wheat, oats/oatmeal, whole rye, whole-grain barley and whole-grain corn. Also try popcorn, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, bulgar (cracked wheat), millet, quinoa and sorghum.
- Eat vegetables and fruit. They are a “nutrition bargain” because they’re low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eat a variety, especially deeply colored vegetables and fruit, such as spinach, carrots, peaches and berries.
- Select fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Minimize your intake of whole-fat dairy products such as butter and whole milk or full-fat dairy products (yogurt, cheeses).
- Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet. Use liquid vegetable oils and soft margarines in place of hard margarine or shortening. Limit cakes, cookies, crackers, pastries, pies, muffins, doughnuts and French fries made with partially hydrogenated or saturated fats.
- Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Try to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day. Some cholesterol containing foods include eggs (about 185 mg per yolk) and “organ meats” such as liver (375 mg per 3 oz.)
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. These foods tend to be low in vitamins and minerals, and the calories add up quickly. Examples of added sugars are sucrose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, corn syrups, high-fructose corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice and honey.
- Drinking plenty of water every day will keep you “plum” healthy. When you don’t drink enough water, your body is more like a prune. Not a happy thought!
- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Choose frozen foods, soups, cereals, baked goods and other processed foods labeled no salt added or “reduced-sodium.”
This content was last reviewed on 12/28/2011.