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Carers 12 Days of Christmas Special – Day 6

Food is ever so important – you are what you eat

Stress can affect eating habits in different ways. Some people will eat anything they can get their hands on, particularly carbohydrates. Others tend to go into a “starvation” mode and not eat much at all. These are both normal reactions, as our bodies behave differently when we are chronically stressed. However, neither of these responses will help relieve stress or contribute to a healthy body and mind.

Maintaining good nutrition habits is tough for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for a carer. Often your loved one is on a special diet or has a particularly selective appetite. There may be other family members to feed, and your time and energy are certainly limited. But you’ve still got to eat correctly. Good nutrition is a habit that you have to consciously cultivate. It begins at the supermarket. Learn to read labels. Start buying foods that benefit your body and mind. If you don’t bring it home, you can’t eat it.

You can train yourself to eat right, one food at a time. Your goals should include foods low in saturated fattransfat, cholesterol and sodium (salt), and lots of fruit and vegetables every day, whole-grain/high-fiber foods, lean meats, poultry, fish (at least twice per week), and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. You should also use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Also, cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars and salt. If you’re not going to eat much, at least eat smart. Foods that have a lot of “bang-for-the-buck” include deeply colored fruits and veggies (e.g., spinach, broccoli, carrots, berries and peaches), whole-grain/high-fiber foods (e.g., whole-wheat, oats/oatmeal and brown rice), oily fish (e.g., salmon, trout and herring).

Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber — and they’re low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease by lowering your blood pressure. Eat deeply colored vegetables and fruits because they tend to be higher in vitamins and minerals than others.

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