Introduction to Diets and Meals
Eating a well-balanced nutritious diet and drinking sufficient fluids are important for maintaining physical and mental well-being. Eating regularly provides better energy and focus throughout the day, minimize cravings, reduce spontaneous snacking, and helps to regulate your body and prevent it from ‘starvation mode’, knowing that the next meal is coming.
Know that everyone’s nutritional needs are different
The key to an ideal meal is about having a variety, balance and moderation. As your loved one may tend to eat less, more vitamins and minerals may be needed to support his/her diet. As a caregiver, you can plan the menu based on your loved one’s taste preference, reducing or replacing salt and sugar intake when necessary. Adding ‘colours’ like fruits and vegetables should also be part of the meal plan.
Breakfast is often labelled ‘the most important meal of the day’. ‘Breakfast’ means breaks the overnight fasting duration where it replenishes the supply of glucose to boost energy levels and alertness, and as well as providing other essential nutrients. Caregivers like yourself, may not have the time and luxury to prepare big meals. A healthy breakfast can be as simple as hard boiled eggs or sunny side up with simple toast, and fruits slices like an apple or berries to go along. Lunch and dinner can be light and easy, watching out for high-fat or high-sodium foods. As the quote goes saying, ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”
Drink enough fluid
Our body needs water to function. Dehydration occurs when water intake is less than water loss. Low levels of dehydration can cause headaches, lethargy and even constipation. It can be a serious health problem in older adults and elderly as it can be associated with other illnesses such as increased risk of falls, urinary tract infections, dental disease, bronchopulmonary disorders, kidney stones, cancer, and impaired cognitive function.
While caring for yourself and a loved one, look out for some signs and symptoms of dehydration:
- Reduced urine output and darkened urine colour
- Dry mouth or lips ‘cracking’ or peeling
- Dry eyes or no tears
- Perspiration may be reduced or stop
- Lightheadedness (especially when standing)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
Tips to increase fluid intake:
- Drink sufficient water frequently throughout the day and at mealtimes.
- Caregivers like yourself can help offer a drink to your loved one who may not be able to drink independently.
- Replace water for fluids in various forms such as barley, milk, soy milk, tea, coffee, juice, juicy fruits and soups for variety.
Here are more tips to better care for your loved one.
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