How to balance meals when our needs are greatly different?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 15, 2016
Joyfulkat asked...

Hi - one question. I live with my 70-year-old mom, and one of our challenges is meals. Mom's weight fluctuates a bit and one of her doctors sent her to a nutritionist for ideas on how to gain a bit of weight. She has no issues with cholesterol or high blood pressure. The challenge to that is that I've got to lose weight, and I do have cholesterol issues. Eating mainly in the Mediterranean style seems to work for me, but she dislikes much of it. Short of cooking two separate meals, how do we manage this?


Expert Answers

Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is Caring.com senior food and nutrition editor and the director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet.

Hello! I love a question such as yours because when attempting to solve eating dilemmas around a Mediterranean type diet - everyone wins. A Mediterranean diet can be an extremely healthful way to approach weight loss or weight gain. Believe it or not yours and your mother's goals are really quite similar. Both share the larger significant goal of aging well and the best nutrition for different needs can really be met using this one approach.
There at least 16 cultures that border the Mediterranean. The possibilities are many in terms of food combinations and menu ideas. Your mother is looking to gain "a bit" of weight and she will want to do it in a healthy way over time by increasing her intake of vegetables and healthy fats, abundant in the form of nuts, nut butters, olives, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, avocado or hummus to name a few. You may want to focus on increasing your plant base with more green leaf vegetables and legumes. Here are a few suggestions to help you work towards a meeting of the meals so to speak!

Ask you mother to start with the positive and focus on what she will eat. From here you may get some meal ideas.

Pick a cook book with a Mediterranean or plant based theme. Sit down together and decide which new menu item you will try that week. If you both like it "“ it is a keeper, but if either of you dislikes the dish then agree to move on to your next choice.

Go to a well done website, such as Eating Well (www.eatingwell.com) and look through their many menu suggestions. Have her start a file of ones that she would be willing to try.

Prepare the main ingredients (poultry, seafood, beans etc) and have her combine side dishes or add ins as she prefers. She can pull her foods out before they are combined into the final dish.

Continue to experiment with the many cultural options "“ just be sure to emphasize the plant base for your benefit.

Good luck - your mother is very lucky to have such a supportive daughter. Bon appetite!


Community Answers

Joyfulkat answered...

OK - guess my question didn't contain enough depth or something. I'm just getting a bit tired of hearing "I don't like that" every time I suggest something for a meal, and then having to listen to the "helpful" little comments about my weight or my cholesterol. Her response to my comment that if I don't take care of what I eat I'm setting myself up for a stroke or heart attack and then what will happen to her is "I'll go to assisted living".

Apparently on this site trying to put a happy face on a problem just doesn't get it.