What’s on the menu? Healthy, enjoyable meals

Eating right isn’t an option.

The person you care for needs a healthy, balanced diet to help build strength and defenses. You need to maintain your physical and mental health so you can be the best caregiver you can be.

If your loved one won’t eat right, you may notice a loss of appetite, change in weight and lack of energy. Talk to him or her about eating better. Then schedule a doctor’s visit to make sure there aren’t any health issues or dental problems, like dentures that don’t fit properly.

What else can you do?

Put healthy meals on the table:
  • Choose foods that promote health: lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fats like olive oil, and lean sources of protein such as fish, eggs and light-meat chicken
  • Limit fat intake and use less salt, especially when cooking; check nutrition labels for salt
  • Include milk or another food or drink to meet calcium and vitamin D needs
  • Try high-fiber foods like beans, avocado, whole-wheat pasta and apples; fiber lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, and it helps with digestion
  • Drink plenty of water; always have a water bottle within reach

Mix things up

Changes can be hard if your loved one has a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits. Make them more fun by learning together. Browse through a new cookbook or an online cooking blog. Talk about your favorite foods and decide which new ones you’d both like to try.

Make small changes at a pace that feels right. Motivate your loved one to change with choices and rewards. Saying no to favorite foods could turn him or her away from the ultimate goal: making healthy choices and feeling better because of them.

Finally, meals usually are more fun when they’re shared. Ask friends and family members to come over. This may encourage your loved one to eat better, too.