When you’re deep in the midst of caregiving, why is figuring out your own healthy eating habits often one of the last things on your mind?
As a caregiver, you are busy giving care. And many of your thoughts and actions center on the one or ones you’re caring for. Which is very understandable, and commendable.
When your focus ignores your own body’s needs though, it can be dangerous. As a caregiver you likely are under increased stress. It may be the stress of caring for someone you love… time stressed of getting everything done in a 24 hour day… financial stresses… or something more.
Are you like Mary, often so tired and thinking of yourself last so that you stand in front of a refrigerator trying to decide if there’s anything in there you can eat? Or wondering what’s the most healthy eating choice?
Yes, your mother was right. In general, dark green leafy vegetables are healthy and are often high in antioxidants.
How are antioxidant vegetables part of the answer to “What can you do when caregiving sabotages your healthy eating goals?”
Antioxidants are substances that fight oxidation and can help you reduce the effects of caregiver stress. And they’re in foods usually considered part of a healthy eating plan.
In Part 2 of this series on healthy eating, fruits high in antioxidants were discussed. Now to consider vegetables high in antioxidants…
According to Tufts University, vegetables with the highest antioxidant values are—
- Brussels sprouts
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Broccoli flowers
- Red bell pepper
Okay, so they may not seem as appealing as the fruits discussed previously. Most of them can be included in a healthy eating diet. And a little later you’ll see how…
First though, there are a couple of points about these vegetables you may not be aware of unless you’ve been studying them recently. And as a caregiver, you probably don’t have a lot of time to pour over journals and textbooks of nutrition.
Kale and spinach both contain nutrients including calcium and carotenoids. Carotene, a carotenoid, is converted to Vitamin A in the body. While these antioxidant vegetables are packed with nutrition, they often should be steamed or cooked lightly before eating and here’s why…
Both kale and spinach also contain oxalic acid, which can prevent calcium absorption. Cooking, including steaming, neutralizes the oxalic acid.
Broccoli and brussels sprouts also should be steamed or cooked before eating. Both broccoli and brussels sprouts are also nutritional powerhouses, containing carotenoids, vitamin C, and minerals including phosphorus and potassium. Broccoli also conatins B complex vitamins and calcium.
Do you know that alfalfa sprouts should not be considered healthy eating? Alfalfa sprouts can actually inhibit the immune system, and may play a part in some diseases like lupus and inflammatory arthritis. While you may hear claims that alfalfa sprouts are healthy, they are best avoided for healthier eating choices.
Beets are full of nutrients, including carotene, B complex vitamins and vitamin C. They also contain minerals. Beets are considered good for the liver, and have been used to fight cancer. Beets also should be cooked before eating.
Red peppers are nutritional powerhouses, containing potassium, calcium, carotenoids and vitamin C. Red pepper’s inner ribs contain bioflavinoids, also known as vitamin P or citrin. These substances help protect blood capillaries.
Onions also contain carotenoids, vitamin B complex, vitamin C and minerals. Onions contain vitamin B6. They have been known for their medicinal properties for many years. Research has shown onions have anticancer activity, reduce blood sugar in animals, antibacterial activity and may improve kidney function.
Corn is native to the Americas. Recent reports suggest genetically modified corn is widespread in the U.S. due to cross pollination. Due to concerns about possible genetically modified corn, you may wish to avoid it, especially under periods of stress.
And eggplant is also high in antioxidants. It contains a bitter liquid that is removed by salting eggplant during preparation.
What about organic vegetables?
Organic vegetables should be chosen whenever possible. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are not used in organic farming. The nutritional value of organic vegetables is often considered superior to other vegetables, although there are some conflicting reports on this point. And their flavor is often much better than other vegetables. In some areas they can be hard to find.
So what are some easy ways to include these vegetables in your healthy eating?
Steaming is one healthy way. A stainless steel steamer insert for a saucepan or using a steamer pot can quickly steam these vegetables. The cleanup is often less than other forms of cooking, because the steaming is actually less messy with less chance of food sticking to the pots.
Stir fry is another quick and easy cooking method. When stir frying with a small amount of liquid such as broth or water, it’s very similar to steaming. There can be additional preparation time in stir frying to cut fresh vegetables into small pieces.
Soups are another way. Homemade soups are nutritious and avoid the additives found in many commercial soups including the so-called healthy ones. And homemade soup does not need to take a long time as I’ll explain…
When my mother was very ill, I felt I needed a juicer. My experiences with juicers was well less than optimal. The ones I used were messy and hard to clean. In my mind appliances should decrease the time of preparation and cleanup, not add to it.
Well my sister suggested I look at a Vitamix. If you’re not familiar with it, it looks like a blender but does much more… including making soup in minutes. And cleanup is a snap because the machine does the work. Click on this link to order your own Vitamix with FREE Shipping.
This is the third in a series of articles on how to include healthy foods easily and quickly for busy caregivers and others. Click here to get your FREE tips, helps and information for caregivers.
To your healthy caregiving,
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not replace information or recommendations from your own physician or other health care provider. This site does not advocate medical or other health-related self-care, and encourages you to obtain advice from your own personal physician or other health care provider.
This web site is not intended to replace medical, financial, legal, or any other professional advice. Please use your own good judgment and consult with your own professionals before applying any ideas found within this website.