Guidance

Being a carer and getting the right nutrition

Does what you eat really impact on you being a carer?

It can- but not in the way that people often think it does. 

Often people confuse the term diet with the idea of trying to lose weight. However, the two don’t always go hand-in-hand. In terms of being carer, the goal is to help you maintain your energy levels, as well as your physical and mental health. 

We’ve compiled a list of practical diet tips to prevent both mental and physical health issues from interfering with your well-being and your caring. 

1. To prevent heart disease you could consider lowering your cholesterol intake.

  • Cholesterol is a fatty substance that exists within the blood and can be caused by either your genetics or lifestyle factors. High cholesterol contributes to the risk of heart disease and stroke, as it blocks your blood vessels.
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  •  You should get your cholesterol levels tested as high cholesterol does not have any symptoms, which means it would be easy for a busy carer to overlook their cholesterol levels. Book a test with your GP if you’ve never been tested before, if you’re over 40, overweight, or if you have heart problems and high cholesterol run in your family.
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There are a few ways that you can cut down your cholesterol levels. For example:

1. Stopping smoking and drinking.

2. Cutting out foods high in saturated fat like cakes, fatty meat, and cheese.

3. Incorporating foods into your diet like oily fish, nuts, and fruits and vegetables.

4. Exercise more regularly.

5. If prescribed by a doctor, take medication to lower your cholesterol.

2. Don’t skip breakfast!

It is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it is also often the most difficult one to make time for. Especially being a carer, it can be hard to remember to eat first thing if you have a busy day ahead. 

While it is debated as to whether eating breakfast help you lose weight, eating breakfast is associated with healthy lifestyle habits in general which is far more important. 

Breakfast helps replenish your energy and blood sugar levels after the fast that sleep causes. It also gives you an opportunity to get some vitamins and minerals in before lunchtime. Being a carer takes up a lot of energy, so it’s important that you don’t skip this meal to avoid an energy crash later in the day or relying on stimulants to get through the day.

 Aim to eat something fibrous and nutritious in the first hour of waking up, as this will set you up for the day and keep you feeling full and satisfied.

3. Increase your intake of Vitamin C and E.

Being a carer in a pandemic is not easy. However, we can use our diets to help to support our immune systems and stop us getting unwell. Increasing our intakes of Vitamin C and E can help bolster our immune systems and help us look and feel our best. 

Vitamin C helps to protect your cells, heal damaged cells from injury, and maintain healthy skin, bones, blood vessels and cartilage. This immunity supporting vitamin is found in citrus fruits, broccoli, and potatoes. 

Vitamin E supports your immune system and helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes. Plant oils, nuts, seeds, and wheatgerm are excellent sources of Vitamin E.

If you increase your consumption of these foods in moderation, then you can get these desired effects. Alternatively, you can take vitamin supplements if signed off by a medical professional.

4. Change up what you eat to decrease your blood pressure.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a significant risk factor for heart disease. High blood pressure is extremely common, as over 1/3 of UK adults are thought to have it. Like high cholesterol, high blood pressure is often symptom-less, so it is important to get tested. 

High blood pressure also increases the risk of kidney problems, strokes, and vascular dementia. To avoid these issues developing, you can get tested every five years (once you’re over forty) and make some diet and lifestyle changes. For example you can:

1. Eat less salt.

2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

3. Cut out alcohol.

4. Avoid any caffeine-based drinks.

5. Take regular exercise. 

6. Quit smoking.

 

5. If you’re going through a difficult time emotionally, avoid sugary drinks, refined carbs, and alcohol.

While chronic anxiety and depression can require therapy or medication, what we eat can also have an impact on how we feel. If you’re going through a hard time or if you feel particularly down, here are some food/drinks to avoid:

1. The post-party blues are a real thing! Alcohol can have a negative impact on hydration and sleeping patterns. Sleep deprivation and dehydration can often lead to anxiety symptoms, so it is important that you consume alcohol in moderation.

2. Caffeine, found in coffee and sugary drinks, can increase anxiety levels and decrease the production of serotonin. This can also contribute to low moods.

3. Refined carbs like white bread, desserts, and sugary cereals can cause spikes of adrenaline which can lead to panic and anxiety.

Being a carer and eating well doesn’t have to be hard!

We have more advice relating to diet and staying healthy available to carers, as well as people being cared-for. To find out more contact our Care Coach Service or take a look at our helpful guidance

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