Fight fatigue and stress with food.
Nutrition and Stress
Many caregivers are responsible for daily tasks including meal preparation. Parkinson’s carepartners often ask about nutrition for their loved one but it is equally important to pay attention to your own health care needs. These nutritional tips are helpful for everyone but were designed with the caregiver in mind- with a focus on easy and reducing the effects of stress on your body.
Take a moment to review the general information on diet in the Nutrition section. You may also wish to take the diet challenge by turning to My Diet Log and Better Nutrition, and identify an area or two to focus on for your own health. The following tips are designed to
- Improve energy levels
- Boost the immune system
- Quick and Easy for those that need more than 24 hours in one day
Start the day right- eat breakfast. Focus on easy to fix light and refreshing foods that given a balance of protein, and carbohydrates to fuel the body and mind.
Try yogurt with fruit or granola
Oatmeal with walnuts and raisons
Honey to add sweetness and to boost your immunity.
Limit late day caffeine.
Eat small more frequent meals rather than fewer heavier meals.
Plan a mid afternoon snack.
Drink plenty of water. Begin each meal with a full glass of water.
Stop eating before you feel full.
Read the labels- how much sugar or fat are you really getting in that Mocha Latte, fruit smoothie, low fat cookie, or sugar free item?
Keep on the go food on hand to avoid impulse eating during stress or hunger binges- Energy stars that are easy to store include carrots, seeds, nuts, yogurt, and oats. Bring dried fruit, an ounce of nuts or seeds with you to have as a quick snack when you are on the go and otherwise tempted to eat that donut or candy bar.
Eat lean sources of protein. Ideal protein snacks include 1 oz of walnuts or almonds (fiber vitamin E and healthful fatty acids), low fat yogurt, milk or soy.
Energy boosting snacks- dried apricots and prunes, sunflower seeds, nuts, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, fruit, carrot sticks
Avoid rapid swings in blood glucose levels by eating foods low on the glycemic index. Rapid swings in sugar levels can lead to rebound fatigue, and jitteriness. See Better Diet for more information. Choose natural sugars in fruits over processed foods like cookies.
Workout recovery- aim for a 1 to 4 ration of carbohydrate to protein for optimal muscle recovery. Whey protein supplement can be added to your favorite workout drink.
Lunch or dinner salad- Choose spinach (or other dark leafy greens) over iceberg lettuce. Add egg, soybeans, sunflower seeds, nuts, wheat germ, and fruit. Use olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing.
Avoid the ‘tan diet’- white bread, sugar, French fries, white rice.
Try one new fruit or vegetable a week for variety. Choose a variety of colors to increase the antioxidants you get.
Eat a combination of cooked and raw foods- Different nutrients are absorbed depending on how they are prepared- i.e. tomato and carrots. Avoid overcooking vegetables.
Substitute- lentils, quinoa (especially high in protein), barley, bulgur wheat, brown rice and sweat potatoes for white rice or white potatoes
Chamomile or valerian root tea to distress and wind down at the end of the day.
Peppermint and ginger to ease stress, indegestion and nausea.
Focus on the following foods for these healthful nutrients, vitamins and minerals
- Iron- fortified cereal, dried apricots or prunes, spinach, potatoes, peas, sunflower seeds
- Folate- wheat germ (add to cereal, salad and yogurt), eggs, sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, orange juice, beans
- Vit B12- tuna, crab, eggs, milk, yogurt, chicken
- Vitamin C- citrus, tomatoes, kiwi, papaya, peppers, green leafy vegetables
- Vitamin A- dark leafy vegetables, carrots, cantaloupe
- Vitamin E- sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, tomatoes, spinach
- Magnesium- artichokes, barley, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, spinach, pine nuts, oat bran, back beans
- Potassium good for blood pressure and nerve and muscle control- avocadoes, banana, carrot, beans, lentils, cantaloupe, apricots, prunes, potatoes
- Zinc for immunity- oyster, crab, fortified cereal, cashews, almonds, cheese.
High scoring energy super stars:
- Nuts and Seeds- high in good fats, vitamins, antioxidants and protein. Almonds and walnuts are especially good sources of good fats.
- Lentils- high in carbohydrates and protein. Easy to fix and easy substitute for meat, rice and potatoes.
- Oatmeal- low on the glycemic index, good form of soluble fiber, vitamin B easy to fix and mixes well with fruit and nuts
- Yogurt- magnesium and calcium rich, protein rich, easy on the go food
- Sseeds, fresh fruit, dried apricots and prunes, yogurt, spinach, oats and whole grains.
- Dark chocolate (>70% cocoa)- a small amount bosts your energy, spirit and is high in antioxidant rich flavinoids.
- Spinach- leafy vegetable packed with nutrients that can be used in salads, pastas, side dishes.
See the Energy Snack recipes in the PD recipe section.