Caregiver Confessions: When You're Just Not Eating Right

Firsthand advice from a caregiver who's been there

The "caregiver 10" (or 20, or more) refers to weight gain that's so common during a caregiving journey. The stress of caregiving can lead to emotional eating, stress eating, or fast eating with poor food choices that leave you feeling worse in the long run.

"When you're in a hurry or stressed, you can grab junk foods almost without being aware of it," says TV-radio personality Leeza Gibbons, who founded Leeza's Place communities for caregivers after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Watch Leeza's advice for eating better under stress.

Video 8 of 13

More tips:

Realize that while all food is energy, all food energy isn't the same. Junk foods and processed snack foods tend to fill you fast but bring your blood sugar crashing down soon after. These foods actually make you more tired in the long run, but you need foods that fight fatigue.

Choose foods that will keep your blood sugar stable, provide lots of energy, and help your mood stay even, too. These include lean protein at every meal, whole grains (such as oats), foods with omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon), and lots of plant-based foods, including fruits, veggies, and nuts. Find out what kinds of foods to eat more of.

Rely on shortcuts to make healthy eating easier. Chop up fresh veggies once every few days and place them in zip-locked plastic baggies. This makes preparing nutritious meals go faster. Stick to simple recipes with minimal ingredients: For example, fish, a steamed veggie, and brown rice take only a few minutes to prepare.

Make double portions. Save and freeze leftovers for a later quick meal, or arrange a meal swap with a friend, so you cook once but get two different dishes out of it.

See also:

When You're Feeling Guilt

When You Don't Feel Appreciated

When You're Sleeping Poorly

When You're in Over Your Head

When You Lose Your Temper

Family Is Being Torn Apart

When You're Just Not Eating Right

When You Rarely See Friends

When You Resent Being a Caregiver

When No One Will Help

Feeling Anticipatory Grief

After Caregiving Ends

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

almost 6 years, said...

So right-on with the different stages of being a caregiver. Relieved to know that what I went through was and is normal and I should not feel guilty about it. Thank you Leeza Gibbons.

about 6 years, said...

I am ashamed to admit that I have never been the cook in our house, since I was always at work, grinding away. Now I'm all at sea as my better half has decided she can't eat and gags on every bite,,I have resorted to tins of soup which makes it too easy for me , but Margaret is able to take that. Have also introduced Protein-shakes with berries and such which she can drink through a straw and enjoys,,,this is going someway to give her a slight gain away from the weight loss However, I have totally forgotten about my own needs except for a quick small sandwich at lunch time,,,so no weight gain for me.This week sees Margaret under Hospice at home care, so now I have been completely taken out of the equation ( or so it seems ),,They have brought all the needed energy food tins etc and almost everything I wouldn't of dreamed were needed,,,they are total Angels.All this was because our Doctor had figured out I was due to a burn-out.....Now all I need is some more sleep and another half can of soup ( like out Thanksgiving dinner ),,,bless you all....P.G