Weight management can be tough when you’re busy caring for a senior loved one. Taking care of their needs may be consuming most of your schedule. And overbooked days can cause your resolution to eat a healthy diet to be pushed to the bottom your priority list.
Preparing nutritious meals and exercising both take time. And time is something caregivers don’t have much of it. The good news is that there are shortcuts you can use to make it easier to merge your health priorities with your senior loved one’s needs.
Smart Food Choices for Busy Indiana Caregivers
The first step to eating smart is shopping smart. Consider buying healthy foods that are ready made and can be used in a variety of dishes. For example, rotisserie chicken is great for a main dish, but it can also be used in tacos or easy soups. Just add frozen veggies, onions, and spices.
Comfort foods, like soups and stews, are popular in many families. They can be great meal options for keeping your weight down and for taking a quick, nutritious meal to your Mom or Dad.
Invest in a good thermos or two to use for transporting the soup to your parents. In doing so, you may also be evoking warm memories of the comfort foods they cooked for you. To save time later, consider making a large batch of soup and freezing some of it.
Salads can also go a long way toward maintaining a healthy weight. Buy a ready-made salad mix in the produce department of the grocery store. Then you can add leftover chicken or a different protein source, such as hard-boiled eggs or nuts, to further pump up the nutrition and appeal.
Protein drinks loaded with antioxidant-rich berries and healthy greens can provide a satisfying breakfast or snack when you’re feeling swamped. Your Mom or Dad may enjoy having a smoothie instead of a solid meal, especially if they’re having trouble chewing.
If you love home cooking, but you don’t have time to shop, think about using a food delivery service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. They’ll deliver the ingredients and recipes for healthy meals. Another option is to hire a friend or neighbor to a make and deliver dinners once or twice a week. And more and more grocery stores are offering curbside pick-up services or home delivery. Check to see if your favorite grocer does!
Eating Healthy on the Go
Let’s face it, many busy caregivers end up at the drive through window of a fast food restaurant on their way to visit a senior loved one. To avoid those extra calories, keep a big snack bag in your car. Nuts, dried fruit, snack bars, apples, oranges, popcorn, or juice may tide you over until you can enjoy a healthy meal you won’t regret. Just remember to refill your snack bag when you do your regular shopping.
Eating out can be tricky when you’re watching your weight. The problem is many restaurant meals are high in fat and salt content. But some restaurants have mastered the art of good taste and low calories, and have those options and their nutritional statistics listed on the company website.
Check your favorite restaurants nutritional listings online. Then create a list of healthy options for each restaurant to store in your phone. When you are rushed and trying to order carry-out meals, you can use your list to ensure you make the best choices.
Exercises for Seniors and Family Caregivers
It’s not just food that causes a caregiver to gain weight. It can also be a lack of exercise. So treat physical activity like the important part of a healthy lifestyle that it is.
Many caregivers work in front of computers all day long. If you fall in to that category, there are exercises you can do right at your desk. From seated leg lifts to using an exercise ball as a chair, there are a variety of options for staying fit.
During your visits with your Mom or Dad, encourage them to exercise with you. Turn on some old music and get moving! Watching YouTube exercise videos can help.
Walking outside when weather permits can also be a great form of senior-friendly exercise as well as a stress reliever. While you may be trying to achieve a 10,000-step per day goal, your Mom may need a more reasonable goal. Buy a pedometer for each of you to use to help you achieve your individual walking goals.
Weight Gain and Caregiving
For caregivers who would like support in their weight loss efforts, there are a variety of healthy choices. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the Mayo Clinic diet online, the DASH diet, and Overeaters Anonymous are all ones to explore.
Sometimes the emotional weight of caring for a loved one may be too much. Respite care at an Indiana assisted living community can be a healthy, short-term solution. Your loved one can enjoy a few days of life enrichment programs and socialization, and you can have some time off to tend to your own well-being.