Balanced diet is key to ability to give care

Posted on: 12 June 2019 by Rob Hobson

Focusing only on your role as a carer is great for the person you care for but can have a detrimental effect on your long-term health and wellness. Rob Hobson tells how you can make the most of mealtimes.

family at mealtime

 

Mealtimes can often be a chore for anyone with additional caring responsibilities and even more so when this responsibility also extends to young members of the family (‘sandwich’ caring).

Nutrition is an important part of caring for someone as it maintains good health, promotes growth and repair, and helps to reduce the risk of disease.  All of these factors are relevant to you and the people you care for at all stages of the lifespan.

Trying to do everything at once can be difficult when caring for someone so breaking it down can help.

balanced nutrition

Understanding the basics of nutrition

The basics of a balanced diet can be applied to any age group.  Getting the basics right and translating this advice into meals is key to feeding the family healthily.

A healthy diet is mostly plant-based with a little meat, fish and dairy, all of which supply the body with protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. There is room within a balanced diet for ‘treat’ foods, but generally these should be kept to a minimum (although they can be useful for people who are struggling to maintain a healthy weight).

This advice is really simple to turn into meals by making them up of:

fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables

Wholegrains (pasta, bread, rice, oats), potatoes and other high-fibre starchy foods

A source of protein (meat, fish, beans, pulses, eggs, Quorn, tofu)

Choose healthy fats by opting for olive oil and including foods such as nuts, seeds and avocado.  Also include dairy and alternatives across the day (yoghurt, milk, cheese, fortified plant drinks such as soy or nut) as a source of calcium, vitamin B12 and zinc.

Hot stew and mushrooms

What does a healthy meal look like?

You can combine the food groups above to create a huge number of simple family meals such as:

  • Roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables.
  • Lean beef or Quorn mince Bolognese sauce (jarred) served with wholemeal pasta and salad.
  • Scrambled eggs and chopped mushrooms and toast.
  • Shepherds or cottage pie (Quorn, lamb or beef mince) with vegetables.
  • Stir-fry made with fish, poultry, meat or Quorn.
  • Casserole, stew or tagine made with poultry, meat, Quorn or beans.
  • Curry (made from scratch or with jarred sauce) made with fish, poultry, meat or Quorn and also plenty of vegetables and a legume such as chickpeas.

Many of these dishes can be batch cooked to save time and any leftovers can be re-heated for lunch the following day.

About the author

Rob Hobson, a registered nutritionist and Healthspan’s Head of Nutrition on how to juggle caring responsibilities and feeding a family. Rob has a special interested in the area of caring for carers as he has also trained and worked as a public health nutritionist (MSc public health nutrition) working with various bodies and care homes.

 

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