When you’re a caregiver, taking care of yourself can sometimes fall by the wayside. But keeping yourself healthy is equally important. If you don't eat healthy, your mind isn’t as sharp as it needs to be for the people who need you most. When I was a caregiver for both my grandparents and later for my aunt, I was able to work a healthy-eating routine into my life. Here’s how you can, too.
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.
Always eat breakfast
Eating breakfast is a key part of getting through a morning routine as a caregiver. Without this meal, you can get lethargic and make a bad food decision because you merely want something fast later in the day. But you shouldn’t eat just anything for breakfast. Make sure whatever you have has protein to give you some long-term energy; eggs and turkey sausage are excellent choices.
Keep snacks on hand
We all get hungry in between meals sometimes, especially when we’re using a lot of our energy to look after someone. That’s why it’s important to have healthy snacks available. Nuts, such as almonds and cashews, are great, as are crackers with peanut butter.
Maintain good portion control
If you eat too much, you can get sluggish. There are simple ways to trim down your portions. If you’re eating a sandwich for lunch, cut one slice of bread in half, instead of using two. If you’re having a bagel or muffin in the morning, eat half and save the rest for the next day. And when you’re dining out, have the server box up half your meal for you to take home. Restaurant portions are often bigger than necessary, and a lot of times, one order can make two servings. By having half your meal boxed up before it is brought out, you won’t be tempted to eat all of it when it’s served. It takes our brain about 20 minutes to feel full, so even if you think you’re still hungry after finishing a meal, just wait and your hunger will dissipate.