We cannot underestimate the power of food. It has always been a way to connect with others and show appreciation for them. We use food to show love and as a way of caring and supporting others in times of need. One of the reasons people end up in my office is that they are so busy caring for others that they put their own nutrition needs at the bottom of the list and then have to suffer the consequences.
While it’s easy to put your own health on the back-burner when you’re busy taking care of others, it’s important to remember to look after yourself, too. When you’re feeling run down, it’s more difficult to take care of a sick family member or friend. Here are a few tips for staying healthy while taking care of others.
• Each morning, write a quick food plan of what you are going to eat that day. This simple action will make sure you stay on track through the busiest of times.
• Keep a regular routine with mealtimes whenever possible, so your blood sugar and energy levels remain stable. Include protein with every meal as this will support your immune system and help you avoid energy crashes in the afternoon. The easiest way to get protein is with meat, seafood or eggs or you could have a quick protein shake.
• Have a ready supply of nutritious snacks available to take when travelling between appointments. Good options include a trail mix of nuts and dark chocolate, protein bars, fruit or packets of cheese and crackers. Always keep a protein bar in your handbag for an emergency snack option.
• If you are not getting quality sleep, be aware that this can have a big impact on your appetite and energy levels throughout the day. Eating regularly and getting good levels of protein and healthy fats with your meals will help to counter this.
Once your self-care is in order, you can turn your attention to providing nutrition support for others. When preparing meals for people who are ill, try to include all the major macronutrient groups – protein, carbohydrate and fat. Chicken soup is a winner because it easily ticks all these boxes. Meat and vegetable stew is another great option. Use leftover bones to make a broth and add vegetables for extra goodness. Warm food will be nourishing and comforting for the gut, especially in cooler weather.
Make sure meals are easy to chew by cutting everything up into small pieces. Smaller portion sizes will be easier to digest. If you want to provide support from afar, take advantage of the many ready-made meal delivery companies and get meals delivered to the person in need. Spare meals for the freezer will be useful and appreciated. It’s natural to want to care for others with food and it’s the ultimate form of love. By taking care of yourself first, you will be able to show up in the best way possible way for others.