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Carers UK Forum • Has caring affected your diet?
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Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:44 am
by Matt Hill
We sometimes give carers advice on managing the meals and diet of the person they look after. Our members tell us it's a worry for many carers. But what about your own diet? Has being a carer affected how you eat?

For example does budget play a part in what you can afford to buy? Does time play a part in what you cook yourself? Does sorting out the dietary needs of the person you care for, mean your own diet gets neglected?

We'd welcome any thoughts on this. We've prepared some website advice on this topic but would love to know your thoughts and experiences of this issue.

Thanks
Matt

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:35 pm
by Catja
My caree is supposed to have a diet which is low fat, low salt, low processed carbohydrates, no red meat, no saturated fat, fairly high fibre (both soluble and insoluble). In addition to this, I've got a food allergy which excludes a lot of savoury processed food and most takeaways (even if they were affordable).

Combining these dietary requirements means that between us we probably eat very healthily considering our income.

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:09 pm
by bowlingbun
Matt, long ago I was a Weight Watchers Gold Card holder. At the age of 30, after two children, I was slimmer than I'd ever been. Now, after 34 years as a carer, I'm very overweight. I love fruit, vegetables, don't like fried food, but I have been very stressed for a very long time. Whenever I feel stressed I have a cup of tea/coffee and something with it - cakes or biscuits. These are undoubtedly my downfall. I went to my GP when I reached 15 stone, asking for counselling as I knew I was "comfort eating" and it was totally out of control. His response came in two words "Eat Less". No counselling arranged, it was suggested I pay £25 for it privately. I'm now a lot heavier, fed up with my body shape but seemingly powerless to control what I'm doing. Ridiculous, but it's like a pressure relief valve. I've never written about my weight problem before like this, but am doing so now as it's possible that there are other carers in my situation. The other problem I have is eating "on the run", seldom sitting down to a lunch when I'm on my own as I'm busy catching up on things. The NHS gives a lot of support to smokers trying to give up; yet highlights the growing "obesity epidemic" but does nothing to help.

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:31 pm
by daylily
I'm the same as bowling bun, was relatively ok (for someone with a huge chest) until about 3 years ago when hubby was diagnosed with vascular dementia. I was coping with the results of the stroke in 2007 but the vasd finished me off.
Took to comfort eating and put on 2 stone.
Just bought myself a bike to try to get fit.
Time will tell as they say.
xx

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:02 pm
by Bluebird
I'm the same as Bowling and Daylily and my weight has increased a lot since caring. Thank you both for being so honest which has helped me to post.

My biggest problem is that I sit in my Mums room all day long with her and as I don't leave the house, I don't walk anywhere or get any exercise. Although my meals are relatively healthy, I then get bored and lonely and start on the biscuit tin or crisps in the evening, especially when there is nothing decent on the telly to help keep me occupied. My Mum can't speak, so there isn't any conversation, it's just me.

I have one food order on a Monday, but by the end of the week, most fruit/salad has gone off and I don't leave the house to be able to 'top up'. This is just the excuse I need to eat more rubbish. I only have about 4 take-aways a year so they aren't the problem.

I really want to lose weight as I don't feel very good about myself. Caring has left me without motivation, or maybe that's another excuse.

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:07 pm
by Anne001
Blue, you are in good company. I too have gained weight.

I don't find the website advice helpful at all (maybe that's just me Image ). I could write the theory myself but being a carer means being on an emotional roller-coaster and each time I am hungry / bored / worried / you name it, I go for the biscuit tin.

Working full-time plus caring for mum means I don't have the energy to shop for or stick to diets. I am normally so busy trying to tempt her to eat, I forget about me. Oh and I eat her leftovers Image .

I don't mean to sound like a pity party. I believe that food is the drug of choice for carers because you can take it (readily available) and still care. The same does not apply to drugs and alcohol.

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:13 pm
by daylily
Bluebird you are right.
I've no motivation and cannot be bothered with the way I look any more, it hardly seems relevant in the grand scheme of things.
(((((((hugs))))))))
Take care

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:06 pm
by Matt Hill
Thanks for your replies everyone and for being so upfront around it. I appreciate it's a difficult subject to talk about.

Thanks for the feedback on the web advice Anne. Would love to know what others think too?

But I suspect you're right Anne - there is a lot of information out there about healthy eating, the theory. But it is the practice that is hard. We asked the same question on Facebook today and many of the replies there talked about eating 'on the run' or skipping meals because of lack of time/other pressures and then filling up on junk or eating at middnight when things have quietened down.

Matt

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:19 pm
by Bluebird
Matt, Anne is right about the web advice, we could all write the theory and probably between us know every diet plan goings, emotionally we just can't do it.
It is nice that CUK have asked about it though.

Daylily, Anne, Bowling, Catja, what we do for others is remarkable and if only we treated ourselves in the same way that we treat the people we care about, we would be the fittest, healthiest, happiest people on the planet. Hugs out there ladies x

Catja, well done! It can't be easy following special diets.

Re: Has caring affected your diet?

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:41 pm
by Catja
<snip>what we do for others is remarkable and if only we treated ourselves in the same way that we treat the people we care about, we would be the fittest, healthiest, happiest people on the planet. Hugs out there ladies x<snip>
Agreed. One of the things which the short course of counselling earlier in the year did was to persuade me that if I could get there without missing a session for about 2 months, and see that it was benefitting Him Indoors as well as me, then my grabbing half an hour in the nearest pool to restore a bit of lost stamina & strength (and to chill out a bit) might be a risk, but it wouldn't be selfish either. Not sure how long this will be sustainable once my caree relapses, but at least in his slightly better weeks it's just about possible.
<snip>Catja, well done! It can't be easy following special diets.
*shrug* You get used to it with practice, including a sort of shepherd's pie done with turkey mince, a ham stock cube, and plenty of veg under the mash. Luckily, this is a very mixed bit of London, so you can get huge bags of various exotic grains, pulses, herbs, spices and other ingredients without spending a lot. Even the cheapest bits of pork or chicken can be slightly improved if treated with jerk seasoning or satay powder. Image