So often when someone in our life is ill, we completely merge ourselves into his or her care. We devote ourselves each day to making sure the person eats well and gets plenty of rest. But what about us? Are we doing the same? Are we still eating healthy meals between hospital visits or doctor visits? Managing to fit in our workouts?

As a Registered Dietitian, I’m always concerned that my patients eat well, but especially when they are taking care of loved ones. If you don’t eat well, you are more likely to get run down—and then what good will you be to anyone?

Here are my top nutrition tips for caregivers:

Don’t skip meals—no matter what. Without fuel in your body, you are more susceptible to getting tired and cranky, which definitely makes it harder to make decisions for others.

Eat breakfast. You can find five minutes for a bowl of cereal or a quick yogurt. Coffee alone is not enough to start the day with.

Pack a sandwich. This is especially important if you’re going to the hospital, don’t love cafeteria food, or can’t leave the bedside. Natural peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat is very quick and easy to make and eat.

Throw a power bar in your bag. And a piece of fruit—they’re both great snacks for the afternoon in the hospital, or if you’re running to appointments.

Stay hydrated. Have a water bottle with you at all times. Being dehydrated can give you a headache and also make you think you are hungry when you aren’t.

Ask friends and family for help.  Let them do the grocery shopping so you don’t come home to an empty refrigerator. Or if it’s easier, order groceries online so they can be delivered to your door.

It’s OK to order in. If the last thing you feel like doing is cooking dinner for yourself, no worries. Go ahead and order in—healthy choices can be found. Or microwave a low-fat frozen dinner. Something is better than nothing.

Last but not last, don’t forget to sneak in some exercise. Ask a friend or neighbor to step in while you go for a quick, head-clearing walk. In the hospital, take the stairs while visiting back and forth. Your mind and body will thank you.

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