Nutrition

How To Provide Proper Nutrition as a Family Caregiver

Nutrition can play a vital role

Making food for your loved ones is a blessing and a delight, but sometimes making sure they get proper nutrition to keep them healthy can be difficult due to their food preferences and eating habits.

Eating and food choices are some of the few things your loved one has control over. Unfortunately, at times, they may not want to eat. It’s not that they don’t like the food being served, they may have difficulty chewing, swallowing, or may not have much of an appetite due to the medications they take. Try to encourage them to eat, but don’t force it.

Digestion

It’s important to realize, food is an essential part of life. As a result, it provides the body with energy, as well as raw materials for growth and repair.  Furthermore, most foods are mixtures of large, complex molecules.  Consequently, the body cannot process the food until it’s broken down by the digestive system.  In addition, after consumption, ultimately it’s digested into small, simple molecules, such as glucose or amino acid.

Generally speaking, the digestive system is a series of connected organs.  Therefore, whose purpose is to break down into smaller molecules. Hence, can absorb into the bloodstream. To summarize, the simple molecules travel through the bloodstream throughout the body’s cells.  In conclusion, which uses them for growth, repair, and energy.

Vital Nutrients

It is important to realize, as a caregiver, you will be responsible for selecting nutritious foods and preparing meals. Ultimately, you will be able to select and prepare foods that will maintain good health.  Furthermore, it’s classified according to its basic composition.  Vitamins are substances that maintain your health.  Our bodies cannot produce most of them.  Vitamins do not contain calories like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  There are two groups of vitamins.  Vitamins that dissolve in fat and vitamins that dissolve in water.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

In brief, Nutrients dissolve in fatty foods and travel with these fats to reach the cells of the body. Notably, they are not eliminated from the body. Unused amounts of these vitamins can build up and cause harmful effects.

  • Vitamin A—In light of, it promotes growth, prevents dry skin, and resists infection. Food source—milk, liver, green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables, and orange vegetables
  • Vitamin D—Moreover, helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus. While keeping bones strong and healthy. Food source—milk with vitamin D, fish oil, tuna fish, and salmon
  • Vitamin E—Furthermore, protects cells from harmful substances and cell destruction. Food sources—vegetable oils, and all green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin K—All in all, clots blood Food source—green leafy vegetables, peas, green beans, and liver

Water-Soluble Vitamins

In brief, nutrients that dissolve by water in the cells of our bodies. Water-soluble vitamins obviously, cannot store excess amounts of these vitamins. Another key point, is they eliminate from the body through urine and feces.

  • Thiamine—Ultimately, helps with healthy nerves and the use of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Food source—pork products, whole grains and enriched grains, bread, cereals, and organ meats
  • Riboflavin—Also, helps with the use of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and keeps mucous and skin healthy. Food source—milk products, enriched bread and cereals, meats, and eggs
  • Niacin—Surely, keeps gastrointestinal tract and skin healthy. And again this vitamin helps with the use of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Food source—enriched bread and cereals, tuna and other fish, beef, chicken, and turkey
  • B12—Indeed, helps the body use proteins and keeps the nervous system healthy. Food source—organ meat, oysters, clams, eggs, beef, and pork
  • Vitamin C—Certainly, helps to heal wounds, keeps healthy teeth, gums, bones, and skin. Food source—citrus fruits, broccoli, and strawberries

Consequently, the best way to take vitamins is through a variety of well-balanced diets. Rich in natural sources of fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.

Minerals

In fact, are chemicals that come from water and the ground. Minerals are required in the daily diet. For strong bones, teeth, nerve and muscle function, water balance. And other essential body functions.

  • Calcium—Ultimately, helps in blood clotting, strengthens bones, and helps your muscle to function. Food source—milk, cheese, canned fish, yogurt, and tofu
  • Phosphorus—All in all, it strengthens bones and teeth. Food source—milk, cheese, eggs, and meat
  • Iron—All things considered, delivers oxygen to the blood. Food source—red meat, egg yolks, spinach, broccoli, and seafood
  • Iodine—Important to realize, assists in the correct functioning of the thyroid gland. Food Source—iodized salt, seafood, and shellfish
  • Sodium—Specifically, keeps body fluids balanced, transmits nerve impulses. Food source—table salt, and processed foods
  • Potassium—Significantly, it helps the healthy function of nerves and the heart. Food source—fruits, vegetables, and milk

Carbohydrates

For the most part, provide the body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates supply overall fiber.  As a result, which contributes to good digestion and elimination. They’re absorbed through the foods you eat.  To summarize, your daily intake of carbohydrates should be around 55 percent of your food eaten every day.  Examples: table sugar, honey, bread, rice, pasta, nuts, dried fruits, seeds, and popcorn.

Proteins

For the most part, are compounds that assist in the building and repair of body tissue.  As a result, it helps defend the body from diseases and assists with healthy muscles. It begins in the stomach and completes in the small intestine.  Examples: milk, meat, fish, beans, cheese, eggs, bread, vegetables, and poultry.

Fats

Obviously, they are essential for healthy skin, the nervous system.  And ultimately used to give a sense of fullness and flavor to food. Furthermore, fat is essential for holding our vital organs in place and it’s protecting us from injury.  To sum it up, fatty acids are in two categories—saturated and unsaturated.  Examples: butter, lunch meat, chocolate, peanut butter, vegetable oil, and nuts. Be sure to know what your patient can and cannot have. As a caregiver, you will be responsible for preparing meals with healthy sources of fat.

Water

All in all, water makes up about 60 percent of the body.  Consequently, water is essential to keeping you healthy.  Furthermore, it carries proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals to all the cells.  Throughout your entire body.  It helps carry waste products from various organs to excrete from the body.  Finally, water helps keep the body at a constant temperature.

For the most part, your daily intake of water should be eight full glasses of water and other liquids.  The body does not store water.  It passes through the system and is eliminated from the body in the form of urine, feces, perspiration, and in the air, we exhale.  Ultimately, if enough water is not taken in, the person becomes dehydrated.  In the long run, serious problems can occur if not treated immediately.

Examples of intake of water:

  • water
  • juices
  • coffee
  • tea
  • soda
  • milk
  • oranges
  • watermelon
  • tomatoes
  • grapefruit

Dietary Fiber

For the most part, it produces the bulk needed for the proper elimination of solid waste products from the bowel. Dietary fiber helps soften your stools and bulks them up, making them easier to pass. This decreases your chances of becoming constipated. Bulk in stools just means that it has mass to it, not the liquid stool associated with diarrhea. If you have loose stools, fiber helps solidify them as it absorbs excess water, adding bulk to the stool. This helps maintain your bowel health.

Foods with dietary fiber are as followed:

  • wheat bran
  • citrus fruits
  • oat products
  • beans
  • vegetables, therefore, a diet high in dietary fiber and adequate amounts of water helps prevent constipation.
Nutrition

Here are some suggestions for each food group:

Proteins

  • Limit the amount of processed meat and red meat you eat.
  • Eat fish, poultry, or beans 2 – 3 times per week.
  • Include more plant proteins in meals like beans, peas, lentils, and nuts.
  • When cooking, choose baking, broiling, or poaching, instead of frying in oil.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Eat 5 servings a day of non-starchy vegetables and fruits.
  • Eat a variety for meals and as snacks.
  • Choose whole fruits and vegetables instead of juice.
  • Limit the use of  sauces, gravies, dressings, and dips.

Grains

  • Eat whole grains and/or legumes with every meal.
  • Choose whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereals.
  • Choose brown rice over white rice.
  • Limit your  intake of high-sugar drinks and desserts.

Dairy

  • Choose low-fat or non-fat sources of dairy like milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

Conclusion

Keep these important tips in mind when preparing meals for your loved ones. Older people don’t always get as much nutrition in food as they should, and having someone looking out for their dietary needs will ensure they stay healthy and well. If your loved one sometimes resists eating certain foods, try different recipes or substitute foods with equal amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Also, check out this article on How Nutrition Can Reduce The Need For Most Medications.

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2 Comments

    1. Thank you, Roberta, It is my passion to help all family caregivers with knowledge in caregiving.

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