Caregiving comes with a never-ending list of responsibilities. The mental exertion required often leaves caregivers stressed out and exhausted before the day has even started. This is so common that it has a name: caregiver fatigue.
One way caregivers can alleviate fatigue is by eating healthy. A diet high in nutrition and low in processed foods can not only give caregivers more energy, but it can improve their mood while reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Here’s how caregivers can use food to help fight caregiver fatigue.
Foods to Avoid
When feeling low on energy, it’s normal to reach for caffeinated beverages and sugary snacks. They are convenient and provide instant relief. Unfortunately, the energy you get from them is short-lived and can leave you feeling worse than you did before.
A few foods that can lead to a crash include:
- Caffeine: Consuming caffeine, primarily later in the day, can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep can significantly worsen symptoms of fatigue. Try to limit caffeinated beverages like coffee to a single cup in the morning.
- Sugar: Sugar is notorious for resulting in a crash. Do your best to avoid sugary snacks like pastries and soda.
- Simple carbohydrates: Simple carbs like bread and pasta taste great. However, they do little to keep you satisfied when eaten alone. If you eat carbs, consider pairing them with a lean protein.
- Processed foods: Processed foods are often full of preservatives, sodium, and other ingredients that can slow you down. It’s best to avoid them altogether.
Foods That Help Fight Caregiver Fatigue
Rather than opting for quick fixes, caregivers can try eating natural foods that provide long-lasting energy. Here are a few foods that help fight fatigue:
- Lean protein: It takes longer to digest lean protein than refined carbs. Foods that take longer to digest help sustain your energy levels, reducing the chance of a crash. Try to incorporate lean proteins like white-meat poultry and lean fish into your diet regularly.
- Leafy green vegetables: Vegetables contain micronutrients that are essential for energy. Spinach, in particular, contains iron that helps red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. It also contains magnesium, which relaxes your muscles to help you fall asleep.
- Complex carbohydrates: Complex carbs are great for giving you long-lasting energy. They contain more nutrients than simple carbs and help you stay full. When selecting carbs, consume those that are rich in fiber like brown rice and oatmeal.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C can help fight fatigue and infections. One lemon can provide you with up to 40% of your daily intake of Vitamin C. Lemons also contain potassium, which is crucial for brain and nerve function. Lemon water, in particular, has been shown to be a great alternative to a morning coffee. It hydrates while boosting your metabolism and preventing insulin spikes.
Heritage Supports a Healthy Diet
The fatigue that often comes with caregiving can make it difficult to eat a healthy diet. But getting proper nutrition isn’t just essential for your well-being, it’s equally important for your caregiving ability.
If your caregiving role is causing you to experience chronic fatigue, it may be time to consider respite care. Heritage Senior Communities offers respite care options that allow caregivers to take a much-needed break without sacrificing their loved ones’ care. Contact us today to learn more about our respite care services.