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Cancer and Healthy Eating Blog

by CarolineH

Recipes and nutrition tips
28 March 2018 at 12:48

Nutrition - carers

For my final blog, I wanted to look at how, as carers you can try and support yourselves nutritionally. This can often be something that is overlooked but is really important, as your body will be under stress and its really important to try and nourish yourself as much as possible. The information in this blog is designed to look at the nutrients to include in your diet to help boost the body and to support your during times of stress, and also practical tips on how to achieve this in an easy and practical way.
The first place to start when looking at supporting your body is to think about stabilising your blood sugar levels. This can be achieved by not getting to hungry and also managing your intake of simple carbohydrates (such as white bread, white rice, cakes, biscuits etc) and simple sugars. When your blood sugar dips (often a rebound from blood sugar highs) this promotes the release of adrenal hormones, as do stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine. The more stress hormones are produced, the more symptoms of stress we might experience. Whilst we might not always be able to control the amount of external stress we are experiencing, by managing the amount of internal stress we have can really help our overall stress levels.
The mineral chromium helps to even out blood sugar by making you more sensitive to insulin – that’s the hormone that keeps blood sugar level even. It is particularly effective in those with symptoms of depression associated with sugar cravings, feeling tired and oversensitive. Good food sources include broccoli, barley, oats, green beans, tomatoes, lettuce and black pepper.
Eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables will ensure you get plenty of nutrients and minerals, which is crucial when your body is feeling stressed and using more nutrients than it would normally. Aim to try and eat at 8 to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day to get a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals, and focus on foods containing vitamins B, C and magnesium.
• B vitamins - Found in bananas, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, meat, fish and dairy products, these provide the body with energy after a period of stress.
• Vitamin C - The largest store of vitamin C lies in the adrenal glands, which are responsible for the production of stress hormones. Keep these healthy by eating plenty of vitamin C rich foods such as oranges, tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens and broccoli.
• Magnesium - This mineral can help to relax muscles and reduce anxiety, while also playing an essential role in hormone and energy production. Nuts - particularly Brazil nuts - are high in magnesium, as are beans and lentils, wholegrains and leafy greens.

There is a really good book by a man called James Wong called ‘How to eat Better’. I have mentioned this in other blogs written before and if you haven’t already bought it I really recommend that you do. It is a really easy to follow book that will tell you top tips on how to super boost the nutrient content of the fruits and vegetables you eat, even if you would struggle to increase the amount you are eating. By simply changing the season you are eating produce or the variety of what you are eating you can dramatically change your intake of essential nutrients that can make a huge difference to your body at cellular level.

When you are caring for someone with ill health, it can be a struggle to try and find time to eat properly yourself and find ways to nourish your body. Over the years people I work with have found different ways to do this. Some find making a smoothie in the morning helpful as it takes seconds to do and is then something then can sip on throughout the morning – You could make a smoothie using blueberries, avocado, Oatley (milk alternative) Tahini (sesame seed paste) and a small amount of xyitol for some sweetness. This will provide you with all the essential nutrients you need in one meal.
Other people find that batch cooking food can be really helpful, spending maybe one day a month cooking 5 or 6 different meals and then freezing individual portions in foil trays, which means for the following month they can simply lift the frozen meal out of the freezer in the evening and just cook some vegetables to go with it, which nourishes the body with very little effort or preparation each day. Slow cooking, soups and stews are also great cooking methods to add into your routine – these can be put on at a time of day that is convenient for you and cook slowly throughout the day – again any surplus can be frozen at the end of the day ready for another days meal with little to no preparation time needed.

Tagged with: Nutrition - carers

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