Food Can Be a Problem
People who need our caregiving are probably people who have issues with food. For one reason or another, they may not have the energy to shop and cook. Often they need special diets. Often nothing sounds appetizing to them or the opposite – food is one of their few comforts and everything sounds good. Whatever the case, what happens in the kitchen is very important in caregiving. It’s true, food is medicine that you as a caregiver can give. (Different perspective, yes?)
It is also true that a lifetime of eating poorly can’t be turned around in meal or two. There will be some foods that take effect more quickly than others (ask anyone who likes prunes) but complex processes like weight loss or building strong bones, strong immune system, a resilient nervous system, etc… take lots of time. My role as “caregiver in the kitchen” is one of the hardest for me. Maintaining consistency, making meals attractive, serving a good variety – a real challenge when life gets busy.
Places to Find Help
What a surprise it was to learn that the gut is like a second brain, and it needs to be treated as special, and fed with care. This is an area where it will serve you well to become a learner – first of the diagnosis of the person you care for, and second of the current diet recommended for that diagnosis.
Medical schools do not spend a lot of time teaching about the role of diet in disease so your doctor may not have a lot to say about specific nutritional guidelines. There are specialties in the areas of functional medicine, naturopathic medicine, and integrative or wholistic care that will spend a lot more time with you on the subject of food. Dietitians and nutritional specialists will be more helpful if they follow current research. Be proactive and ask them to work with you. Don’t be lazy about this, and don’t let them be either.
You can find much of the latest research on diet yourself, if you have a computer. There are some tremendous changes coming in the Standard American Diet and the Food Pyramid due to discoveries about the causes of many chronic diseases (including the big ones like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia). It’s an exciting field. I’m posting links to some of my keto meal discoveries as well as listing some of our most helpful references at the end of this post.
Five (easy) Guidelines
This is such a big topic, and new changes and discoveries are frequent, but here are some things I’ve found to be basic for most chronic conditions:
– avoid processed foods as much as possible. If there are more than two ingredients it’s probably processed.
– buy organic when you can
– increase eating of fresh vegetables and fruits with bright colors. It’s hard to go wrong with this.
– decrease carbohydrates, which includes anything containing large amounts of sugar (soda, desserts, alcoholic drinks) and also breads, pastas, rice and white potato
– don’t give up if things don’t go well for a few days. Return to sensible eating as soon as you are able.
My husband has Lewy Body Dementia/Parkinson’s and he is a researcher of his own remedies. We have seen promising results from his diet which is built on a conservative approach. Lots of colorful vegetables, moderate amounts of clean protein (eggs and meats) and as much healthy fats as we can get (avocado, coconut and olive oils, animal fats, butter, etc…). We also addressed our magnesium and vitamin D levels after finding out that we were low in those nutrients, as are most people these days.
We’ve tried some extreme diets, but found we just couldn’t build a life around weird food choices. The desire to eat has to be kept alive.
- “The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan” by Dr. David Perlmutter
- “Fat for Fuel” by Dr. Joseph Mercola
- “The Paleo Approach” by Sarah Ballantine, PhD
- “The Ketogenic Kitchen” by Dominic Kemp and Patricia Daly