As a family caregiver, encouraging your parent to eat healthy and whole foods can, for some, be one of the most challenging endeavors. After all, eating is done for a number of reasons other than sound nutrition, and your parent has probably developed a rather entrenched habit when it comes to their food choices. But habits are simply a choice we make over and over again. Starting with small changes, such as trading in white flour for whole grains, you, as a family caregiver, can make a world of difference in how your parent feels, providing more incentive for them to make further changes down the road. When helping your parent choose a healthy lifestyle, consider adding these energy boosting foods to their diet. Once they feel the effects, they will be asking you for the almond butter to put on their apple.
- Almonds. These nuts are loaded with magnesium and B vitamins—nutrients that help convert food to energy. In addition to an increase in energy, they can boost one’s concentration.
- Nut Butters. Your parent may have only known the sweet thrill of peanut butter. If they have not experienced the other nut butters such as almond, cashew, macadamia, pistachio or sunflower, they are in for a treat. Spread over whole-grain sprouted bread for added fiber and B vitamins.
- Bananas. This fruit that originally came from Southeast Asia is one of the top sources for potassium, an important mineral when it comes to sustained energy and muscle function.
- Berries. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols that protect against heart disease and promote energy without having to endure an accompanying crash half an hour later. Place in some low-fat Greek yogurt (twice the protein as regular yogurt).
- Beans. Beans provide both fiber and protein, important to stable energy and blood sugar levels. One bean dish your parent might enjoy is hummus, a Mediterranean dip that consists of garbanzo beans, tahini (a sesame seed paste), olive oil and lemon juice. Add some sliced raw vegetables for a five-star snack.
- Wild-Caught Salmon. This is one of the best foods on the market for boosting your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. This nutrient offers a wealth of healing properties, not the least of which is increased energy, improved memory and a reduction in depression.
What you don’t eat is almost as important as what you do. Fill your parent’s plate with fruits and vegetables followed by a dessert of sugar-laden ice cream and you’ve undone some of the benefits all those antioxidant rich foods provided. Packaged and processed foods are often filled with sugars, salts and hydrogenated oils—all energy drainers. A good rule of thumb: buy and eat foods closest to their natural state.
How you Eat.
For those experiencing low energy levels, grazing can help keep blood sugar levels steady. This does not involve heading to pasture. What it does involve is snacking every few hours on nutrient dense foods. Possible suggestions include nut butters or raw almonds and fruit, low-fat Greek yogurt and fresh granola with berries, sliced raw vegetables with tzatziki—a Greek cucumber and yogurt dip, and avocado atop whole grain crackers.
If you or someone you know needs caregiver services in Rochester, MN, contact Prairie River Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.