How do we avoid salt and trans/saturated fat in our diet ?

4 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2016
Bookworm58 asked...

I take care of my elderly dad and I have had a recent heart attack. The doctors say to avoid salt, trans fat and sat fat and excess sugar. Just trying to take care of us but its hard to get him to follow the diet. Especially when people bring us food we shouldnt eat at all. How to get people to quit bringing food we are supposed to avoid? I am trying to make time for myself and enjoy life more. Its stressful to deal with my dads negative attitude. But I have to accept that he has been like this all his life. I am trying to avoid negative attitudes and enjoy life as I should. How can I do this and still avoid more heart trouble?? I need advice so badly.

Expert Answers

Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is 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.

I am sorry to hear of your recent health struggle but congratulate you on identifying what is most important as you embark on your healing journey. It is difficult to know what your dad is feeling with this reversal of caretaking roles - but it might be helpful to find a common goal that would inform the food choices you both make. For example aging well. An anti inflammatory diet such as that recommended by your doctor for heart health, would perhaps serve to help you dad decrease any pain and stiffness he may be experiencing. You may also want to engage him in some of the meal planning. A diet that is built upon whole foods will not contain the harmful fats and high sodium content of processed foods. You can get a great deal of help on the web through the use of meal planning sites such as MyFoodMyHealth. This is an easy to use website that you both can use to set the parameters in terms of what foods to include and exclude in your diet. Your dad can make suggestions from the recipes that are provided. If he remains unhappy with the alternatives - he may enjoy the meals that come into the house from well meaning friends. We know that managing stress is also important for heart health. Find time in each day for a rejuvenating walk or other activity that you enjoy. A mindfulness based stress reduction program can teach you wonderful tools for managing life's stressful times.

I wish you well on the road to recovering your health. Beth

Community Answers

Mimulusman answered...


Difficult when your 'partner' is unwilling to get with the program. My suggestion: Cook what and how is right for you, staying away from hydrogenated oils and salt.and take your serving. Then let your Dad add as much butter and salt to his portion as he wants. Toss yor portion of salad with the dressing that is right for you, and let him add his own. If he thinks that you should prepare his food to his taste, tell him, man-to-man, that you're not his wife or his nurse or his daughter, and it doesn't work that way any more. And perhaps rethink how much you still owe him at this stage in your lives.

As for people bringing you the wrong food out of the goodness of their hearts, show them your Doctor's written Dietary orders, and ask them to drop the food off at the homeless shelter on their way home. If they REALLY want to help, find some heart-friendly recipes related to what they bring, and give them a copy to follow.

Good Luck, Rich

A fellow caregiver answered...

Life is short. He is old. Let him eat what he wants. You don't need more stress.

Sitters unlimited answered...

All of the answers above are fabulous and you may not need any additional advice, however if you're still looking for suggestions here are a few that have worked well when our caregivers are working with client's like your dad.

  • Prepare a healthy food that looks and tastes as close to the unhealthy original as possible and serve it without comment. You may be surprised that he doesn't even notice the difference. If he asks you might say something such as "I added more garlic than usual. Do you like it?"

  • We like because you can find recipes that fit your diet plan, tweek the recipe you like to make it fit better, store your own favorite recipes to make them easier to find later and you're able to see all recipes nutritional data in real time. In other words, if a recipe has too much salt and you substitute an ingredient you can see immediately how that changes the sodium content of that recipe.