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  1. #1
    half-nut member briochick's Avatar
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    Default To encourage family members to eat better?

    Hi,

    My parents are nearing retirement age, and already have quite a few health problems. My father is obese, and though my mother has lost a lot of weight recently none of her many health problems have changed and I'm concerned that, with evidence that her body is not maintaining its gut flora, they won't unless the quality of her diet improves. My father tends to have the attitude of "I never expected to live this long anyway" coupled with "better to die happy than healthy" and my mother is an extremely picky eater on top of having stomach problems. I want them to have a better quality of life even if they do die anyway, and, if possible, I'd like to prolong their lives a few years. They've made a few changes to their diet thanks to my encouragement, like eating spinach instead of iceberg lettuce, and giving up sodas but it's really hard to get my dad to commit to not eating highly processed meats, or my mom to eating any kind of variety. If she eats spinach and apples, and occasionally microwaved broccoli and cauliflower that's more than enough variety for her and my father will often buy sausages or bacon. He sees the snacks as a way to "treat himself" which it's hard to kind of explain that eating a whole bag of chips because you've been good is undoing all your good work. It's like routinely laying down to take a rest in the middle of the street after a hard days work. True, some people might not die because of it, but it isn't a "treat." Also, with kidney problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and his mother and brother having had heart attacks and bipass surgery, he's clearly not one of the people who isn't effected by processed foods.

    I try to lead by example, and my diet is impeccable, I actually keep my own garden as well (though my parents claim to have black thumb). I don't keep processed foods in my home at all, I rarely eat out, and "treats" are only done with friends and in reasonable servings, but I worry that for my parents, and my siblings the changes may be too few too late.

    Should I just be happy with the changes they have made and leave it at that?

    Is there something you have done, or haven't done, that has encourage your family members to eat better?
    -Brio

    "I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well."
    -Teddy Roosevelt
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  2. #2
    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    I just started a 'live healthy' project and have got almost the whole family on board now. This was triggered by a home accident that made everyone realize how important it is to be healthy. Sometimes just telling someone "eat healthy food and exercise!" isn't enough, because they don't know exactly how. Everyone knows chips and fries are bad for you, but they don't realize how bad. I wasn't aware of the specifics of these things either, until I really started researching.

    I think your parents are already trying by quitting sodas and eating more veggies. You need to make sure that 'healthy food' is readily available though, because most of the time people buy stuff out of habit without bothering to read the labels. Maybe offer to shop for them for a week and fill their fridge with healthy stuff? What I've learned is that usually healthier choices exist, so you are not sacrificing enjoyment at all -- all you need to do is know what those choices are.

    What has really helped me was getting a smartphone app to keep track of calories. It's a bit time-consuming, but kinda fun to do and you actually see the numbers right away. The app we use also allows you to scan the bar codes of the things you eat and see how many grams of nutrients you are getting. If you don't have a smartphone you can use the website version as well. We've been doing it for 3 weeks now and everyone has been much more motivated to eat good food and exercise!
    4w5 sp/sx EII

  3. #3
    Senior Member pinkgraffiti's Avatar
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    i think it's ok to work on your mother, but i don+t think it's ever going to work with your father, since he simply doesn't want to do it himself. and i guess he has a right to eating what he wants and suffering the consequences.

    as for diets, the simpler the better. don't go heavy on sauces, on highly prepared foods, synthetic stuff etc.
    keep off animal stuff: cut meat almost completely, if you dont then choose white meat. cut back on dairy food.
    base your diet on vegetables and grain. this is our natural diet that we have been eating for thousands of years. vegetables and grain. complement that with fruit and you're good to go.
    eat fish a couple of times a week. don't eat a heavy dinner, its better to have a stronger breakfast and lunch. dont eat your dinner late, if possible not after 8pm.
    for breakfast, starting your day with tea, supplemented with lemon, really helps to adjust your stomach to start the day (and to lose weight).
    eat soup. now it's summer (i dont know where you are, but im going to guess northern hemisphere), so you can replace soup with loads of salads. salads are good for the imagination, because you can mix a lot of colors so the plate seems yummy. but go for soup in the wintertime. if you want i can give you a basic recipe, but it's a nice thing for people that don't like to cook because you can do it once and it lasts for 3 or 4 days, and you can even freeze it and it lasts longer.

  4. #4
    half-nut member briochick's Avatar
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    Thank you.
    -Brio

    "I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well."
    -Teddy Roosevelt
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  5. #5
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    the reason why things like chips and sweets are considered "treats" to most people is because in the population, most bodies are actually tuned towards high salt and sugar. In the case of someone who regularly eats such "treats", brain scan studies show that the brain reacts almost as if it's receiving an addictive drug. Not eating such stuff causes the body to then turn lethargic and mood to trend downwards. It's terrible not just because of what it does to your body, but because of how people feel NOT eating it.
    A key thing to note in education of people to "eat healthy" is that most people have the impression that healthy = tasteless. It's important to find good, high fiber, nutritious recipes that still taste good! A large part of it is also re-education of the palate. Without the high salt and sugar, people start tasting more flavors and appreciating the subtleties of freshly-prepared food. With regards to getting parents to eat better, I think if you live with them, rather than telling them things, maybe make subtle switches in the types of food bought? I think "you're gonna die an early death" isn't really a good means of motivating some people to change habits; feeling how eating well regularly makes a big difference to energy levels and mood might instead prove a stronger motivator for your dad.

  6. #6
    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briochick View Post
    Hi,

    My parents are nearing retirement age, and already have quite a few health problems. My father is obese, and though my mother has lost a lot of weight recently none of her many health problems have changed and I'm concerned that, with evidence that her body is not maintaining its gut flora, they won't unless the quality of her diet improves. My father tends to have the attitude of "I never expected to live this long anyway" coupled with "better to die happy than healthy" and my mother is an extremely picky eater on top of having stomach problems. I want them to have a better quality of life even if they do die anyway, and, if possible, I'd like to prolong their lives a few years. They've made a few changes to their diet thanks to my encouragement, like eating spinach instead of iceberg lettuce, and giving up sodas but it's really hard to get my dad to commit to not eating highly processed meats, or my mom to eating any kind of variety. If she eats spinach and apples, and occasionally microwaved broccoli and cauliflower that's more than enough variety for her and my father will often buy sausages or bacon. He sees the snacks as a way to "treat himself" which it's hard to kind of explain that eating a whole bag of chips because you've been good is undoing all your good work. It's like routinely laying down to take a rest in the middle of the street after a hard days work. True, some people might not die because of it, but it isn't a "treat." Also, with kidney problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and his mother and brother having had heart attacks and bipass surgery, he's clearly not one of the people who isn't effected by processed foods.

    I try to lead by example, and my diet is impeccable, I actually keep my own garden as well (though my parents claim to have black thumb). I don't keep processed foods in my home at all, I rarely eat out, and "treats" are only done with friends and in reasonable servings, but I worry that for my parents, and my siblings the changes may be too few too late.

    Should I just be happy with the changes they have made and leave it at that?

    Is there something you have done, or haven't done, that has encourage your family members to eat better?
    I echo the sentiments of others for the 'keep it simple' strategy. I'd also recommend going away with them for the weekend and offering to do the catering. Go somewhere where theres no local shops/snack bars etc... somewhere cabin-y. That way you can combine simple excersize like walking with wholesome meals... try and get them involved with you in the cooking and show them how to make the simple receipies...after a weekend you could next try a week... or a regular sunday together etc... it's a gradual process but be patient the fact that they have made changes due to your help means they are willing to try.

    It's good to see someone being conscientious in this way and taking on the responsibility. Good luck.
    "We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"

  7. #7
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    I have a father who is in his early sixties, is morbidly obese, and eats very unhealthy and doesn't exercise. My family and I worry a great deal about him. I'm afraid it's going to take something serious like a heart attack to get him to change his ways, and that's assuming he's lucky to survive it. His weight affects his ability to move and get around. I don't know what he weighs. I'd estimate between 350-400 lbs.

    We've tried setting an example for him by choosing healthy foods in his presence. My mom will cook healthy things and stopping buying certain junk foods like potato chips because he will eat the whole bag in a sitting rather than just a handful. However, when he's alone he will go out and buy junk or just overeat in general. Mom can't watch him 24/7.

    Persuasion just doesn't seem to work with him. Neither do scare tactics, like if you keep eating like that you're going to kill yourself. I don't know what would work. My mother and I feel powerless to change the situation.
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  8. #8
    half-nut member briochick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Such Irony View Post
    I have a father who is in his early sixties, is morbidly obese, and eats very unhealthy and doesn't exercise. My family and I worry a great deal about him. I'm afraid it's going to take something serious like a heart attack to get him to change his ways, and that's assuming he's lucky to survive it. His weight affects his ability to move and get around. I don't know what he weighs. I'd estimate between 350-400 lbs.

    We've tried setting an example for him by choosing healthy foods in his presence. My mom will cook healthy things and stopping buying certain junk foods like potato chips because he will eat the whole bag in a sitting rather than just a handful. However, when he's alone he will go out and buy junk or just overeat in general. Mom can't watch him 24/7.

    Persuasion just doesn't seem to work with him. Neither do scare tactics, like if you keep eating like that you're going to kill yourself. I don't know what would work. My mother and I feel powerless to change the situation.
    I'm sorry to hear about the struggles with your father.

    I know scare tactics in general don't work. For men, peer pressure is actually very effective (unfortunately so, because of some really horrible changes it has an can wrought) and a lot of men don't see their family's as "peer." I know my father doesn't. Maybe we need to get their friends in on it, if that's possible...
    -Brio

    "I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well."
    -Teddy Roosevelt
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  9. #9
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briochick View Post
    I'm sorry to hear about the struggles with your father.

    I know scare tactics in general don't work. For men, peer pressure is actually very effective (unfortunately so, because of some really horrible changes it has an can wrought) and a lot of men don't see their family's as "peer." I know my father doesn't. Maybe we need to get their friends in on it, if that's possible...
    He doesn't exactly have a lot of friends and the few friends he has are the types that don't care either.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Chiharu's Avatar
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    I feel like you cook help your father by teaching him to cook healthier meats with more herbs and spices to make them delicious, but your mother may not like that. She should try having organic yoghurt or perhaps fermented foods like kimchi.
    Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness." ― Kurt Vonnegut

    ENFP. 7w6 – 4w3 – 1w9 sx/so. Aries. Dilettante. Overly anxious optimist.

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