Helping someone with Parkinson's disease (PD) can feel like a full-time job and then some, making it hard to find time to eat. And when you find yourself strapped for time, it's natural to grab the easiest thing handy, which isn't always the healthiest. (And let's not even talk about snack machines — yikes.) Here are five super-quick snack ideas that help when you're on the run.
- An instant burrito
The Mexican burrito is one of those perfect all-in-one meals. When you don't have time to cook, though, you can get most of the benefits of a burrito by wrapping a flour tortilla around a stick of string cheese. Or put a slice of jack, provolone, cheddar, or muenster cheese on the tortilla and roll it up. Add a few slices of avocado or some cold refried beans, if you like them, for even more health-boosting benefits.
- An apple
Sorry, I know it's boring, but an apple is about as close to a diet pill as you can get in a fruit. Apples make you feel full thanks to their high fiber content — approximately 4 grams per apple. Then there's the pectin, which has been found in studies to suppress appetite. If you don't like biting into an apple, slice it ahead of time and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning.
- A handful of nuts
By this point, almonds' place in the superfoods hall of fame is well known, but lots of nuts have specific health benefits, and they're not all created equal. Here are some of the top contenders:
— Pistachios: Lowest calorie-to-protein ratio, plus lutein and zeaxanthin, for eye health
— Brazil nuts: Top source of selenium
— Walnuts: Highest antioxidant content of any nut
— Macadamia nuts: Lots of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat
Nuts are better for you when they're raw or dry roasted without added salt. Make your own mixed-nuts jar in an airtight canister so you can grab a handful anytime.
- Kefir or drinkable yogurt
In Europe and Japan, mini drinkable yogurts are on the shelves right alongside colas and juice drinks. Unfortunately, here in the U.S. they're harder to find, but you can buy them in larger grocery stores and health food stores (brand names include YoBaby, Danimals), often in packaging aimed at kids. The store-bought drinkables pack a hefty dose of sugar, though; buy plain when possible and then add a small amount of honey or agave syrup on your own. Or make your own by filling a thermos with plain or fruit-flavored kefir, available in larger bottles in most grocery stores.
- Graham cracker "cookies"
When you crave something sweet, graham crackers are a great substitute for cookies, because they're lower in fat and calories. (Four square honey graham crackers total 130 calories.) Make a sandwich with a thin layer of peanut butter, chocolate sauce, or Nutella and you can satisfy your sweet tooth without pulling out the Chips Ahoy or Oreos.
Melanie Haiken is a senior editor at Caring.com the leading online destination for caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. Melanie has written about health and family-related issues for numerous magazines and websites and has worked for San Francisco's renowned Center for Investigative Reporting. If you need help caring for a loved one at home, read reviews in the In-Home Care Directory to learn about options near you.