Nutritional Welling of the Caregiver

Nutrition is important for patients and for caregivers. This information is provided by:

Barbara Ragland, Registered Dietician, Clinical Nurse Manager
Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital, 5801 Bremo Rd., Richmond, VA 23226

Download Nutrition PDF here.

Caring for a loved one can be emotionally and physically demanding, leaving little time and energy to care for one's self. Emotional stress, physical exhaustion and poor nutrition can compromise the caregiver's physical wellness and ability to provide care.

A healthy diet does not have to be sacrificed when time and energy are limited. Maintain flexibility in meal planning and simplify your lifestyle. You are more likely to eat a nutritious meal if the foods are readily available and easy to assemble into a quick meal. Don't do it all alone, allow assistance from family and friends.

  • Don't skip meals. If a meal is skipped, consider a healthy snack to give you energy and prevent excessive hunger. You are. more likely to grab something fast and unhealthy when you are overly hungry, and more likely to overeat.
  • Mealtime is a time to connect with family. Avoid outside distractions like television and radio. Include the patient with Alzheimer's in mealtime considering their needs and feeding abilities. Allow quiet time before a meal, so mealtime is relaxed.
  • Plan and prepare meals in advance; freeze leftovers and casseroles for the week.
  • Prepare containers of fresh vegetable and fruit salads, or buy packaged salads and pre-cut fruits and vegetables from a salad bar to save time.
  • Lean meat, poultry, tuna, beans or hard-boiled eggs can be added to a salad for protein and can be served with crackers or whole grain bread for a complete meal.
  • Keep peeled washed and cut vegetables in the refrigerator for snacks.
  • Serve fruit salad with cottage cheese or yogurt as a meal, side dish or dessert. Top fruit salad with dried cereal or raisins to add fiber and carbohydrate energy.
  • Prepare a large batch of low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber muffins for the week.
  • Boil eggs a day in advance for a quick breakfast served with fruit and bread.
  • Roast meats and poultry in advance and have ready for casseroles and salads.
  • Don't rush your grocery shopping. Shop when you have adequate time and a list.
  • Purchase nutritious staples, particularly those that can be easily prepared:
  • Canned tuna, chicken, salmon and beans
  • Boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • Pre-cooked low-fat chicken strips
  • Low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt
  • Pre-shredded low-fat cheese
  • Low-fat frozen entrees
  • Raisins, popcorn and pretzels
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Bagged salad greens
  • Canned unsweetened fruit
  • Dried nonfat milk powder
  • Frozen egg substitutes
  • Low-fat frozen waffles
  • Instant or quick cooking oatmeal
  • Bagels and English muffins
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Low-fat tortillas
  • Potatoes for quick microwaving
  • Baby carrots and low-fat dressing
  • Canned juices or 100% juice boxes