How can I get my mother to eat better?

Asked by
Answers 1 to 6 of 6
Better than what?

How old is your mother? Does she have any chronic conditions like diabetes, COPD, CHF, etc.?

Is she overweight? Too thin? Losing or gaining weight?

Do you provide her meals? Grocery shop for her? How much control/influence do you have over what is available for her to eat?

What are you most concerned about?

I think if you can provide a little more detail about the current situation you'll get some helpful input.
Top Answer
Mom lived independently and I'd to joke and tell her she was eating like a super model, while I was trying to lose weight. She would tell me she just didn't feel like eating. I asked everyone for suggestions on what to bring her to eat.... because periodically I'd run out of ideas.

The things that worked best were:
- Take her out to eat and let her pick from the menu
- Take her to the grocery store and if she is able, let her push the cart as her walker. Give her time to walk around and think of things she might feel like eating
- Let her get/eat anything she wanted, unless it was high salt, because that caused her to swell.
- Tell everyone who comes to visit her to bring a healthy, warm lunch and dinner, that is enough for her to put in her fridge and reheat the next day, that way she had warm delicious variety of food. People would bring pasta with meatballs, chicken casseroles, meatloaf, pork roast and sauerkraut, stuffed peppers, grilled salmon... and it wasn't always me who had to figure out what to serve her.
- I always brought her a coffee from Dunkin Donuts and added a coffee cake muffin or other goodie. She would say she didn't want the sweet and before long, she would eat little bit after little bit, until it was all gone.
- We brought special ice cream from the local home made ice cream shop
- We made sure there were always things on the counter for her to snack on like nuts (almonds and walnuts no salt), fresh berries in the fridge. In a basket...apples, bananas, peaches (depending on the season), dark chocolate covered raisins, grapes, things that she could eat throughout the day.
- We tried to be sure there was a variety of interesting food. Sometimes she ate and sometimes she didn't. I think the most important observation is that she would eat more when she had someone to eat with and would almost not eat at all if no one was eating with her.

I hope this gives you some helpful suggestions for your situation. It took a lot of diligence... and from experience I would say that every time you do something interesting that she appreciates, you will remember the kindness you showed her for the rest of your life.

I hope you have fun with it... this is a great opportunity to spoil her with all kinds of delightful surprises. One time we brought hot dogs with all the fixings. That was fun!
More information on this would be helpful.

I was worried about my mom's diet (lives with us) but the doctor has reassured me. Her glucose levels are stabilized now, her cholesterol is improving, and she isn't losing weight. Knowing those facts helped me a lot.

As long as it isn't candy, I try to get Mom to buy herself treats.. She likes donuts so at least once a week we swing by Dunkin Donuts. She eats more when we eat out and while I am on a budget, she isn't so we go out a few times each week. I try to cook things I know she likes more often. I always have fruit on hand and eggs, both of which she never refuses.
I need to clarify - Mom lost too much weight after her heart surgery and stroke, so I was worried she wasn't eating enough. Thankfully her weight is holding steady.
Does she enjoy eating? My mother has always had a tiny appetite and often just has no interest in food at all. For now I make a point of serving her favorite things, but she can be as picky as a three-year old, and after three bites she's always "full". The doctor proscribed appetite stimulants, but it seems like a waste of money, esp when she forgets to take them.
the idea of serving her favorite foods, making sure she has access to them, such as snacks or nuts, is helpful; I make that Chex cocktail mix a lot.
Does your mother live with you, or is she on her own?
My husband with AD went through a bad patch with no appetite and he lost a lot of weight. He'd always been fanatical before he got Alzheimers about never eating any junk food at all. Anyway, during his bad-appetite phase, I started giving him ice cream and junk food which he absolutely LOVED. He'd obviously forgotten that these foods were "bad" for him. It seemed to bring his appetite back and now he eats a lovely balanced diet with the odd bit of junk food. I think sometimes we can get a bit fanatical about diet and lose sight of the big picture.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support