How to Help an Elderly Loved One Make Dietary Changes

Change is hard, no matter what age you are, and if your elderly loved ones have to endure change in their lives, then it may throw them for a loop. As people age they may have to make dietary changes in order to stay healthy and keep their bodies strong. Many doctors recommend that older individuals eat low sodium diets that are rich in nutrients. This type of diet can reduce your loved one’s risk of developing many chronic diseases, heart disease, or having a stroke. Your loved one may also need to avoid sugar, especially if they have or are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If your loved one has to undergo a few dietary changes, no matter what the reason, then utilize these tips to help them change their habits and live a healthier life.

Keep a Record

Before your loved one begins to change their eating habits, they need to understand what they eat and when they eat. Give them a journal and instruct them to write down everything that they eat during the day and have them write down the time that they eat. After a week has passed, collect their journal and look for patterns. Their eating patterns can help you help them adapt their eating habits to better fit their new dietary changes. Plus, by seeing your loved one’s food written out, together, you both may be able to figure out what unhealthy eating habits your loved one has and determine how they can change their habits.

Look For Small Ways to Break Unhealthy Habits

Older individuals are more prone to eating junk food, because as they grow older, their taste buds begin to change. Many older individuals do not taste foods as well as they should, so they tend to grab super sweet or super salty foods that are easy for them to taste and enjoy. However, these foods tend to also be super unhealthy for them and may affect their overall health. If this sounds familiar, then your loved one may be in need of a total diet makeover. A total diet makeover is not going to happen overnight, or even over one week, instead, you need to start slow. Begin your loved one’s dietary changes by finding one or two healthy things that your loved one is willing to eat. For example, your loved one may agree to eat one more fruit or vegetable per day. Start with the one food or food group they agree to change, and move from there. Take their new dietary changes step by step and go slow. Your loved one will be more likely to enjoy the changes in their diet and eat healthier if they change their diet slowly.

Add Extra Treats

If your loved one starts a new diet and does really great, then bring them over a treat that they enjoy. Every healthy diet also has room for treats, and your loved one may deserve a delicious treat if they have stuck with their diet. Ask them what their favorite food or meals are, and bring it to their home as a surprise. Your loved one will love the surprise and will be able to still enjoy some of the foods that they love.

Set Realistic Goals

When it comes to your loved one’s new dietary changes, it is absolutely essential that you and your loved one sit down and set realistic goals. If your loved one only eats fast food and junk food, then they will not suddenly turn into a fruit and veggie eating lovers. Instead, they may do well with eating home cooked meals a few times a week. It is important that you set realistic goals for your loved one, because otherwise they may be being set up to fail. Without realistic goals, your loved one may not be able to stick with their dietary changes, and may actually refuse to continue with them after a few weeks. Instead, set up goals that are doable and start slow.

Be Prepared

Planning ahead is key to helping your loved one stay on their new diet. You must always be able to plan ahead in order to avoid unhealthy eating options. For example, if you and your loved one are going shopping during the day and the only food available will be unhealthy fast food, then pack a healthy lunch. Likewise, if your loved one is going to a party or event that has only unhealthy options, suggest they eat at home before they leave. If you plan ahead, then your loved one will start to plan ahead as well and will learn strategies that can help them stay healthy no matter where they go.

Individualize Their Plan

When helping your loved one change their diet, you must first determine what they want to change about their diet. If they simply want to eat healthier, and do not have any doctor ordered diet changes to make, then take a look at their diet and make small changes. You must individualize their new plan for them because otherwise, they may not be able to stick with their new diet plan. Use their food journal to determine what they need the most help with, and sit down with your loved one in order to make a plan together.

If your loved one is struggling with their diet, then they may come to you for help. Changing their diet may be difficult at first, but it can be done with persistence and a bit of determination. Help your loved one change their diet with these tips, and soon, they will learn to fall in love with healthy eating. It may take time, but after eating healthily for a few months, their habits and tastes will begin to change and they will begin to love the new, healthy foods they eat. Plus, they may even begin to feel better and they may even lose a little weight.

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