Where should I draw the line with my mother in law's nutrition?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
Peggy kandle asked...

My 90 y.o mother-in-law eats a large bowl of soup for daily lunch. She always asks for Ritz crackers. Today she outdid herself. She only ate a half bowl of soup but insisted on eating 16 Ritz crackers. If she would eat all of her soup, I wouldn't have a problem. However, often she eats more crackers than soup. Other than denying her extra crackers, what can I do? My husband keeps pointing out her age and that she's entitled to what she wants. Your advice would be appreciated. Thank you. Peggy Kandle


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.

I can hear your frustration and your concern. What you don't want to happen is a battle of wills. It is important that your mother not sacrifice the nutritional benefits of the soup and fill up on empty calories, however if her overall health is good and she has a healthy appetite the crackers may be harmless (though not my favorite!). I would want to know however that she is eating well at other meals. IF the crackers are not going in the soup, you may be able to get her to eat the crackers with some peanut butter or cheese to boost her intake. I might also suggest she supplement with a nutritional beverage such as Boost or Ensure to cover potential losses. A little pleasure in life well lived and a little peace of mind for you and your husband. I wish you luck and your mother-in law good health.