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01 Jul 2022

Healthy Living: Caring for carers

Healthy Living:  Caring for carers

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities

JUNE 13 to 19 is National Carers’ Week to raise awareness of family carers in our community.
It is probably one of the most noble jobs, but when a caregiver focuses on a loved one’s needs, there seems to be less and less time for healthy self-care. Neglecting your own health is not sacrificial, it is unhealthy, and can lead to physical and emotional problems. We all heard on airplanes how we should place the oxygen mask on ourselves first – to be able to attend to others. If you are a caregiver, it is part of your duty to mind yourself to be able to give the best of you to the one in need.
Fortunately, there are some resilience-building strategies that don’t take much time and energy. Good nutrition is one of them; it promotes good health, building strength and stamina needed for providing care. It helps decrease your risk for developing minor ailments or more serious chronic illnesses, and supports your immune system to fight off infections that may arise.
You’ve probably heard that you need to eat a balanced diet to give you the stamina – but what does that mean?

For continuous energy production and stress support it means you need to balance your blood sugar levels by reducing stimulants and by adding protein and essential fats in every meal – especially the breakfast. If you start the day with a sugary cereal, even a simple porridge with fruit and honey, it will shoot up your blood glucose, which is then followed by a crash where moods change, energy drops and you will crave stimulants. Long term this will not only zip your energy, but interfere with your sleep and immune system.
Balance also means having a great variety of plant foods – especially vegetables, to balance out the animal foods. Colourful vegetables, herbs, spices, and fruits provide the minerals and antioxidants to reduce the acidifying and inflammation promoting side of meats and saturated fats. Include plenty of these in every meal.
For example, add herbs and vegetables to scrambled eggs for breakfast, or have an avocado-fruit-kale and whey protein smoothie. Quick salads and batch-cooked soups are great to enjoy with the sandwich at lunchtime. Then fill half your dinner plate with quickly steamed / sautéed / stir-fried vegetables of a great variety. Have fruit with mixed nuts as snacks if needed, while stewing them with some spices make a comforting dessert, with a dollop of natural yoghurt scented with vanilla extract.
Balance also means eating at regular intervals and not skipping meals. Three good meals should be plenty, and you will find if you eat balanced, there will be no need for snacks. Just hydrate between meals. You might find that by having a later, hearty breakfast you might only need one early dinner, and those two meals are plenty - allowing your body to fast and repair at an extended period of time overnight. It is completely down to your individual needs and your loved one’s routine.

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