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How Can I Convince My Father to Eat Healthier?



"My father does not eat well. He eats fast food for lunch and canned soup for dinner. Mom always prepared their meals before she passed away. With her gone, he has settled for food that is quick and easy instead of healthy and homemade. I would like to influence what he eats, but I can only see him about once per week. How can I change this pattern?" - READER



It is possible your father has never cooked, and at this point, he may not be interested in learning how. Unless your father is having all of his food delivered, he must be out and about in order to buy fast food. This means he has the mobility to buy healthy food, but he chooses not to. Not everyone has this luxury later in life.

Although this may be surprising to some, it is quite easy to get fast, nutritious foods these days. Most grocery stores offer prepared food that is actually healthy; e.g. salad bars, prepared meats, roasted chickens, vegetables, cut up fruit, and so on. People commonly pick up lunch from a grocery store, and your father can, too.

Here are several ways you could introduce Dad to better food choices.

  1. Take him to the grocery store for lunch when you visit.
  2. Bring your father some healthy meals of your own. You don't have to go far out of your way to do this. Simply make one extra portion while preparing your own meals. Let no food go to waste!
  3. Prepare a meal at Dad’s house. You could try cooking one of his favorite recipes that Mom used to make. Leave enough leftovers for the extra meals.
  4. Invite Dad to your home for dinner. He is mobile after all.
  5. Enlist your siblings' help in preparing healthy food for Dad.
  6. Find out what healthy foods your father likes, and bring him one or two items when you visit as a treat.

I suggest you avoid pointing out his lousy diet to him. Unless he is clueless, he already knows that fruits and green vegetables are healthy. So does everyone else. This does not stop most of us from indulging in foods that are unhealthy. However, interacting with him using the methods I mentioned above will be much more likely to change his behavior.

And of course, you must also accept there is a chance that nothing you do would change his behavior. Change is difficult, especially as we age. It is unlikely you will completely reverse his behavior, but there is an even better chance you will alter his routine a little. That is a step in the right direction, and it is certainly better than what he is doing now. At the very least, you can sleep at night knowing you introduced to him some healthy options.

I wish you well with this endeavor.


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