Your dad lives alone. You stop by when you can to make sure he’s eaten, but what happens when you’re not around? Does he skip meals, or does he take the time to cook for himself? If he does cook, what does he eat?
Between issues with portion sizes and added fat, sodium, and sugar, people are struggling with nutrition. If your dad is overweight or diagnosed with a chronic health condition, diet and exercise are two of the most commonly recommended lifestyle changes. However, he needs to take a closer look at the meals and snacks he eats.
Added Sugar Appears in Many Common Foods
Your dad cannot avoid all fruit, which contains natural sugar, but he can limit his sugar intake by avoiding all foods with added sugar, corn syrup, fructose, etc. Unfortunately, there are plenty of them.
For example, jarred pasta sauce often contains added sugar. It may be granulated sugar or corn syrup. The amount depends on the brand. Prego’s traditional pasta sauce has 4 grams of added sugar, Classico adds 3 grams, and Ragu traditional has 0.5 grams. Francesco Rinaldi has the most at 8 grams.
Homemade sauces are better when it comes to avoiding added sugar. It’s not hard to make a homemade pasta sauce. You need a large can of crushed tomatoes, diced onions and garlic, and Italian seasoning to make a basic sauce that doesn’t contain added sugar.
The Best Diets to Follow
If your dad’s doctor recommends losing weight or changing his eating habits, he’ll find most doctors lean towards two diets. The Mediterranean Diet is one of the highest-rated diets in the nation. It focuses on beans, vegetables, and fruits. Healthy oils like olive oil or walnut oil are also at the top of the food pyramid.
Dairy is meant for limited consumption, as are food items like honey and nuts. Meats like pork and beef are also limited consumption. Sugar, butter, and margarine are frowned upon and shouldn’t be part of your dad’s diet.
The DASH Diet is similar. It’s designed to lower hypertension (high blood pressure). While it follows many of the principles of the Mediterranean Diet, it also limits sodium intake.
Home-Cooked Meals Are Best
Your dad needs to cook his meals at home instead of getting takeout or heating frozen or pre-cooked meals. However, cooking and food preparation may be harder for him to manage.
It’s time to talk to your dad about elder care services. He may need help with daily activities and not know the best way to tell you. He may find it hard to keep up with housework, laundry, and kitchen chores.
If his idea of a healthy meal is a frozen pizza or can of cream of mushroom soup, he needs someone to help him make healthier choices. Call an elder care agency and ask about meal preparation and other caregiver services.