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. 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.
You can train yourself to eat right, one food at a time. This list of typical serving sizes is a great start.
Grains: 1 slice of bread, 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta (about the size of a 1/2 baseball).
Vegetables: 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (about the size of a small fist), 1/2 cup of other vegetables or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice.
Fruits: 1 medium fruit (medium is defined as the size of a baseball); 1/2 cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit; or 1/2 cup juice.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans and Nuts: 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish; 1/2 cup cooked dry beans; or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.
Milk, Yogurt and Cheese: 1 cup of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces fat-free or low-fat cheese.
I can’t possibly eat that many servings of vegetables, etc.!
Before you decide that you can’t eat as many servings of ANYTHING as suggested, think small fist, baseball, hockey puck and a computer mouse. These are all things that describe a “serving size.” The comparisons will help you eat more of the things you need and less of the things you don’t.
- One serving of raw leafy vegetables or a baked potato should be about the size of a small fist. A serving is a lot smaller than most people think.
- A cup of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt, or a medium fruit should equal about the size of a baseball.
- A half a bagel is about the size of a hockey puck and represents a serving from the grains group.
- Three ounces of cooked lean meat or poultry is about the size of a computer mouse. Three ounces of grilled fish is about the size of a checkbook.
- A teaspoon of soft margarine is about the size of one die.
- An ounce of fat-free or low-fat cheese is about the size of six stacked dice.