Weight loss may be a goal for many Americans in the new year, but there are right and wrong ways to achieve it. Stress, poor nutrition, and tight schedules can contribute to unhealthy weight loss among caregivers.
As a caregiver, it is important that you take care of yourself as much as you care for your elderly loved one.
But how can you achieve balance in your life and avoid unnecessary weight loss while being a caregiver?
How to Avoid Unhealthy Weight Loss When You’re a Caregiver
- Practice proper nutrition.
Caregiving can keep you too busy to prepare or eat healthy meals. However, good nutrition may help you maintain your health, allowing you to tackle the tasks ahead of you.
- Try to slow down and give yourself time for full meals. Consume smaller meals more often if you can’t find time in the day for three big meals.
- Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Avoid overly processed foods.
- Make sure your snacks include some carbs, fats, and protein, which can help you feel fuller and keep blood sugar stable.
- Keep healthy snacks (nuts, bananas, carrot sticks, or whole-grain crackers) where you can grab them quickly.
- Look at your schedule for ways to make time for healthy grocery shopping and preparing balanced meals.
- Manage stress healthfully.
Excessive stress can cause weight loss in many people, and caregivers are at particular risk of stress-related health issues.
- Maintain a healthy social network through support groups, and keep in touch with friends and family.
- If you work outside the home, consider asking your human resources department about the possibility of unpaid leave.
- Smoking can be a difficult habit to kick when you’re stressed, but it’s worth the effort.
- Talk to your health care provider.
Schedule regular checkups with your health care provider. This can help you keep track of your weight, as well as other health factors like sleep and nutrition.
Discuss your lifestyle, including your caregiving responsibilities, with your provider. They may be able to help you create a plan to reduce stress, eat right, and keep your weight at a healthy level.
- Seek help for depression and anxiety.
Depression or anxiety, both of which are common among caregivers, sometimes cause weight loss. Depression in particular affects 40–70% of caregivers.
Talk to your provider if these symptoms begin to interfere with your life:
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness or guilt
- Suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating or accomplishing normal tasks
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Stubborn headaches and digestive problems
Weight Loss is Not Inevitable for Caregivers
If you are experiencing weight loss as a caregiver, help is available. A balanced diet, stress management, and social support can help keep you healthy and fulfilled.
Heritage Senior Communities provide numerous resources that can help busy caregivers. Contact us about respite care options that can give caregivers a break without compromising their loved ones’ needs. Also make sure to check out our newer communities in Saline and Holland, Michigan.