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Healthy Eating Habits for Caregivers

Michelle Howard of Yonkers, New York, knows all too well how easy it is to slip into poor eating habits while caring for someone else. Ms. Howard’s son has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and she has two other children and a full-time job.

“As caregivers we do tend to reach for the quick fix,” said Ms. Howard with a laugh. “I myself do the worst thing—I go for the chocolate!”

Ms. Howard shares her tips for how to take better care of oneself while caring for a loved one.

The problem with eating “quick fixes” is that processed foods can actually increase stress, Ms. Howard points out. “I get that crash later on from eating sugar,” she said.

Instead, reduce the body’s stress with these tips for better home health:

1. Plan ahead. Whether planning for dinner with the family, taking lunch to work, or shopping at the store, it can keep you focused on the foods you need and stick to a budget.
2. Eat citrus fruits for a sweet craving and the Vitamin C will work as a stress reducer.
3. Snack on foods rich in zinc, such as pumpkin seeds and cashews, that produce insulin, which tends to get depleted when we are stressed.
4. Drink green tea instead of coffee. Caffeine can contribute to stress on the body, and green tea has less caffeine than coffee.
5. Make meals with whole grains and green leafy vegetables.