How Family Caregivers Can Practice Healthy Habits, Part 1
Healthy habits are important for all of us, but we think they’re especially important for family caregivers. With so much on your plate, and someone else relying on you, it’s necessary to keep yourself in top caregiving form. We want to give you the tips you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle while caregiving. In part 1 of this blog post, we’ll talk about tricks for eating healthy when you may not have a lot of time or needing to share meals with a loved one who might have a restricted diet.
Focus on the Freezer
Freezer meals never go out of style. Make double batches of some of your meals so you have dinner for that evening, and a meal to pop in the freezer for one of those days where you don’t have any time at all. Some things that freeze well include lasagna, spaghetti sauce, chili, and grilled chicken.
There are also plenty of sites out there with great ideas for crockpot freezer meals. These are when you toss the ingredients for a slow cooker meal into a gallon-size zippered plastic bag and keep it in the freezer. Pull out a bag in the morning, pop it in the slow cooker, and have a healthy dinner in the evening. This may take a little more time. Schedule a family member to spend some time with your loved one to give you the couple hours you’ll need to prep your meals. Alternately, when someone asks how they can help you, tell them you’d love some freezer-friendly meals. Here’s a thorough blog post with ideas to get you started: Freezer Meals
Skip the Actual Cooking
Not every meal requires turning on the stove or oven. Focus on the meals that skip the cooking stage and just rely on fresh ingredients being put together in delicious ways. Basically, we’re talking about salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. For salads, use bags of pre-washed and pre-cut greens to create a healthy base, and then add whatever toppings make your heart sing. Skip the slicing by adding cherry or grape tomatoes, pre-sliced mushrooms, and baby carrots. If you’ve got an extra couple minutes, then by all means, slice up some cucumbers, red onions, avocadoes, zucchini or yellow squash. Top your salad with canned tuna or salmon or beans for a healthy dose of protein, or pull some of that grilled chicken out of the freezer. Make a quick and healthy vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and dried herbs.
Make healthy and hearty sandwiches with whole grain breads or wraps, sliced deli meats and cheeses, and fresh veggies such as onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. A pre-made hummus from the store makes an excellent and healthy replacement to mayonnaise. Canned tuna mixed with light mayo or plain yogurt makes a great salad that can be added between bread, in a sliced avocado or tomato, or over some fresh greens.
Turn on the blender and make a smoothie in five minutes for you and your loved one. Use fruits and vegetables to keep your smoothie fresh and healthy. Great smoothie ingredients include baby spinach and kale, carrots, frozen berries, frozen pineapple or mango, bananas, and plain yogurt.
One-Pot (or One Dish) Meals
Skip a lot of steps and a lot of dishes by focusing on healthy meals that require only one pot or one dish. These are slow cooker meals, soups, and maybe some casseroles. We pinned this great recipe for overnight oats last week on our Pinterest page where you just toss some oats, coconut milk, and a few flavorings into a mason jar, leave overnight in the fridge, and pull out breakfast the next morning. A roast, potatoes, baby carrots, and onions in the slow cooker make a great pot roast dinner. The leftover meat would make a great sandwich for lunch the next day. Pre-sliced stir fry vegetables with pre-sliced stir fry beef in a wok with some soy sauce and hot sauce makes a simple and quick dinner for you.
Embrace Grocery Store Convenience
Don’t be afraid to take some grocery store shortcuts. Pre-cut vegetables will save you time. Pre-washed bags of greens make putting a salad together a snap. Rotisserie chickens offer an easy and delicious protein option. Jars of already minced garlic remove the necessity of peeling and mincing your own every time you make a meal. Frozen fruit makes smoothies taste fresh, and removes the need for adding ice to the blender.
Keep healthy snacks within reach so you can maintain your healthy habit in between meals, or for those times when you missed a meal. Pre-cut veggie trays or bags of baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and broccoli florets will tide you over. Hummus makes a healthy dip. Keep plain yogurts and easy mix-ins, like sliced almonds, fresh berries, or peanut butter. An apple and peanut butter is a tried and true healthy snack. Nuts, sliced deli meat, and cheese are easy to grab and filling.
Casa de la Luz Hospice is a hospice care provider for Pima County and southern Pinal County. For more information about our services or to schedule a free assessment, call (520) 544-9890.
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