Be a Healthy Caretaker- Part Two
Author: Shannon Miller
By guest blogger Tammy Badida:
Last week, I shared about some of the physical effects that over two years of caregiving has had on my body (hypertension, high cholesterol, and weight gain), and what did and didn’t work for me during this high-stress, adrenaline-fueled period in my life. I hope that by sharing these experiences with you that you can either be inspired to start off your caretaking journey on a healthy foot, or to make positive changes in your journey if you’ve been at this for a while now. Sometimes the middle can seem like the hardest part, but that’s when these healthy decisions can count the most.
This week, I’d like to talk about the even tougher to tackle topic of…nutrition. You might recall the statistic that“63% of caregivers report having poor[er] eating habits than non-caregivers.” (Source: National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare)
A healthy diet is the icing on the cake, or perhaps the fat-free yogurt on the fruit. I’m a straight-up “stress eater.” As a southern gal, food was always something that was reliably good. It was, indeed, my friend. Or so I thought, until my LDL (low-density lipoprotein, the bad cholesterol) count told me differently.
Eating smart is a classic case of the domino effect. If you eat well, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be able to do more. If you eat poorly, you’ll run out of fuel fast. More often than not, I chose the latter. I encourage you to try and keep healthy snacks in the house, if that’s where you spend most of your time. Some of us are frequent drivers to and from appointments or the hospital; you might find it helpful to treat your car like a mini-pantry full of snacks. You’ll probably be on the go a lot, so portable things like granola bars, fruit, and yogurt are good to have on hand. Think low fat, low calorie, and high protein. A bottle of water is much kinder than the “empty calories” of a soda or syrupy sweet tea.
Long periods of high stress and little rest can send your body in to overdrive. There are many essential vitamins and minerals that we should be stocking up on every day through a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This isn’t always easy to do, however, so I learned to invest in some vitamin supplements to try and keep my energy and resistance up. Find a way to get your body the goods it needs!
I know, I know, I know that it’s easy to say all of this in hindsight. If you are in the midst of taking care of someone, you are going to be exhausted. Rest is certainly important, but it will not replace the benefits of maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine. Always check with your doctor before beginning any sort of new diet or physical activity, and consider your personal health needs. Two and a half months into getting back on track, I can’t tell you how much I wish I would’ve done this all along.
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday for “Getting Organized at Home.”
“When dieting, remember: What’s on the table eventually becomes what’s on the chair.” –Barbara Johnson, Daily Splashes of Joy
Article by Tammy Badida