Simple meal ideas for full-time carers 12 October 2018 Written by Caitlin Jamieson, Accredited Practising Dietitian When looking after somebody else is your full-time job, it’s easy to forget to look after yourself. But when you look after your own health, and manage your diabetes well, you’ll be better able to care for those who need you. In this article we’ll go through some simple and quick meal ideas to help keep you, and those you care for, healthy and energised. Healthy Homemade Meals in a Flash Making healthy meals at home doesn’t have to be complicated! Aim to eat some fresh fruit and vegetables, low fat, unsweetened dairy products, wholegrains and some lean protein sources such as meat, fish, legumes or nuts and seeds, every day. Try to stock up on long-life staples from these core food groups so you’ll always have something healthy on hand. When choosing packaged products, read the label and go for options that are lower in added sugars and salt, and higher in fibre. When you’re in need of a quick meal try following the ‘3 Bs’. Pantry staples such as wholegrain bread, bananas and beans are a great source of low glycaemic index carbohydrates and can form the basis for simple healthy meals and snacks. Here are some examples: Baked beans on wholegrain toast Banana, low-fat plain yoghurt & untoasted muesli Wholegrain bread or wrap with a small can of tuna and salad Veggie-packed soup with wholegrain bread Canned beans with a tin of tuna, salad and a drizzle of olive oil Have some ’emergency’ options on hand When it comes to healthy eating, the meals you make at home are usually best. However as a full-time carer, you might not always have the time or energy to cook from scratch. Cooking in bulk and freezing some meals for later, or having one or two store-bought convenience meals in the freezer for emergencies can save you from reaching for the phone and ordering takeaway. Look for frozen meals that are based on vegetables and wholegrains and lower in saturated fat, sodium and kilojoules, then add extra vegetables or salad to boost the fibre and nutrient content. You can find a list of healthy convenience meal options in the Healthy Shopping Guide, or come along to one of our Shop SMART programs where you’ll learn to read food labels and choose healthier products. Seek support As a full-time carer with diabetes, it’s important to look after both your physical and emotional wellbeing so you can be the best version of yourself and better able to help those who need you. If you feel like you might need extra support, there are services out there that can help: Call Diabetes NSW & ACT on 1300 342 238 and to speak with a dietitian, diabetes educator or exercise physiologist about managing your diabetes or finding services in your local area See if you’re eligible for a Medicare rebate to see a dietitian via your diabetes care plan Respite & carer support services Meal delivery services that cater for people living with diabetes and other health conditions such as Meals on Wheels NSW, Tender Loving Cuisine or Hit100.