Making healthy eating choices isn't always easy. As a family caregiver with a busy schedule of working, maintaining household duties and providing care for your loved one, it is even harder. We sat down with Angela Sader, a Registered Dietitian for Kindred, to find out ways you can make better food choices when you're on-the-go.
"Often, caregivers are on the road between their own home and their loved ones," Sader said. "In these instances, it can be tempting to stop at a fast food restaurant for meals. However, with minimal effort and planning, caregivers can put together quick, nutrient-rich meals that will boost energy levels, increase mood and lower their risk for chronic diseases, all which are a huge benefit to them and their families."
According to Sader, these are the most successful strategies for eating well on the go
- Pick a time to plan meals and snacks for the upcoming week. Before you go shopping, make a grocery list, and stick to it! Remember: fresh ingredients are best.
- Find a day during the week when you have the least to do. Use this day to prepare foods for the next week so they are ready for quick assembly. (Grill chicken breasts, chop onion etc. to save time.)
- Put prepared snacks in sealable containers, bags and/or a cooler for the car. If you get hungry when going back and forth, you can have a snack instead of fast food. Good snack options include popcorn, pretzels, grapes and almonds, among others.
Make Healthy Choices Every Day
Nutritional needs change as we age. Seeing a family member affected by high blood pressure, diabetes or other chronic conditions may have you wondering how you can help prevent these conditions from impacting you. The best decision you can make for yourself is to begin adapting healthy habits guided by solid nutrition principles - not fads - that will guide you for life.
It can be tough to break a routine or overcome cravings for our favorite unhealthy foods, but by slowly eliminating unhealthy eating habits over the course of days and weeks, we give our taste buds the opportunity to adjust to our new lifestyle. Here are some of the most important principles for maintaining a nutritious diet and staying healthy while you fill the role of busy caregiver:
Consume a low amount of sodium. Foods with a lot of sodium can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The majority of sodium people consume comes from processed foods, even those that claim to be healthy. Often flavors from fat and sugar are replaced with salt in foods labeled as healthy.
This is why it is important to try to cook as many meals at home as you can with fresh ingredients, even if it seems like an inconvenience at first. Many herbs and spices other than salt make food flavorful. Try garlic powder, black pepper or a spice blend that says "no sodium."
Eat an adequate amount of calcium. It is no secret that calcium strengthens our bones and helps prevent conditions like osteoporosis. What you may not know is that calcium is essential for helping your body trigger nerve signals and clot blood. You can get calcium through dairy products, a handful of almonds or salmon. The recommended daily dose is 1,000 mg for adults ages 50-70 and 1,200 mg for those 70 and older.
Eat a diet high in fiber. Fiber helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar. It is better to get fiber from food than dietary supplements. Foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains are all high in fiber.
The National Academy of Sciences Institute recommends a daily dose of 21 grams of fiber for women aged 51 and older and 30 grams for men aged 51 and older. WebMD offers 20 great tips
for ways to increase your daily fiber intake. In order to avoid unwanted gas, start adding fiber into your diet slowly.
Stay hydrated. As we age, our thirst decreases while our need to stay hydrated actually increases. While eating fruits and vegetables high in liquid content can provide up to 20 percent of your daily hydration, be sure to make drinking water part of your daily routine.
Not only does drinking water frequently ensure adequate hydration, it also curbs excessive caloric intake from sugary beverages, which adds up quickly. If you crave the taste of sweet beverages but are looking to cut the calories, try adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, strawberry or watermelon, or drink sparkling water. Keep at least two water bottles so you always have a clean one on hand, and select styles that have a wide opening for ice and fruit.
Eat well-balanced weeknight meals. The wonderful thing about cooking your own food is being able to experiment and tailor your meals to your taste. Release your creative juices and try a new dish this week! You can try something you're not familiar with or put a new spin on favorite ingredients. Try the recipe below for a great weeknight meal that takes minimal preparation. By planning one night a week to treat yourself and your family to a freshly cooked meal, you are already making healthier decisions and taking better care of yourself.
Salmon is a great source of protein with vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Cooking fish on the weeknight is also quick and easy. By having your local grocer cut your salmon filet into smaller, individual servings, you can enjoy fresh fish on multiple occasions rather than eating leftovers.
Weeknight Salmon Filets
3 oz. salmon filet
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
- Line your baking sheet with the aluminum foil for quick and easy cleanup.
- Place your salmon filet on the baking sheet and drizzle a small amount of olive oil and lemon over the top (just enough to keep the fish moist).
- Sprinkle dill over the fish.
- Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Cook pieces that are a half inch thick for 18-22 minutes, an inch think 22-25 minutes or thicker cuts 25 minutes or longer.
While your salmon is baking, you can easily steam your favorite vegetable, make a small side salad or place a sweet potato in the oven to roast. Tailor your sides to your tastes. Have fun with it!