4

votes

Help me tell my 63 year old mom what to eat

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 24, 2011 at 3:19 PM

So I'm a pretty big fan of paleo, it works for me. I'm pretty active and I generally don't worry much about all the debates, i just do what seems to work for me. After all my random rants about paleo, my mom is curious and wondering how to change her diet to help ease some of her health problems. My mom as been asking me about inflammatory foods, the impact of wheat, and the cholesterol deba I'm having a hard time determining what is scientifically backed and what isn't. Here is a rough profile:

  • 63 years old, probably around 160-170 pounds, 5'4"
  • pretty much no exercise
  • knee and hip arthritis
  • shaky if she doesn't eat on schedule, didn't test pre-diabetic, but had slightly high blood sugar
  • acid reflux/GERD- on prilosec
  • had breast cancer at age 50- mastectomy and chemo with full recovery
  • family history of cancer, heart disease, and congestive heart failure
  • high blood pressure- taking two meds: amlodipine, metoprolol
  • also, I think she might have high cortisol. She drinks 2+ cups of coffee a day, works 6-7 days a week and carries most of her weight around her midsection

My instinct is to tell her to cut out sugar, wheat and high GI carbs, start eating meat with high levels of omega 3's and low omega 6's, not worry about saturated fat, switch to green tea and cook with coconut oil. I've heard saturated fat aggravates GERD, so I hesitate to tell her to eat more of it.

So I'm trying to figure out:

  • What foods she should avoid that aggravate arthritis and acid reflux?
  • How can we bring her high blood pressure down through diet? Will a diet high in saturated fat equal a decrease in blood pressure? Most websites say to decrease saturated fat intake to lower blood pressure.
  • How can she reverse her path towards diabetes?
  • She loves tomatoes. Should she cut them out because of arthritis?

    Also, any recommended reading would be helpful.

    Thanks guys!

  • Medium avatar

    (2169)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 10:37 PM

    The funny thing is, she already stays pretty far away from really processed foods. She eats eggs, bacon and a whole grain english muffin for breakfast, lunch is leftovers, and dinner is a grilled/baked/sauteed meat with steamed or sauteed veggies. I'm starting to wonder if her high blood pressure is caused by her lack of exercise. She probably does eat over 150 grams of carbs a day, so maybe we can start dialing that back, but I don't want her to be miserable and feel like she can't bake cookies during a bad week. They also drink 2% milk, which I'm going to try to get them to switch to whole.

    D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

    (543)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 02:33 PM

    Hey Lavender! Thanks - maybe we should start a site! Isn't it amazing that with all the advances in tech - the concentration on nutrition is all but absent in the medical profession! Thanks to the net we have much more info (too much?) about medical conditions and there's little excuse for ignorance about our concerns - trouble is - is the info accurate? Paleo has been of more benefit to my arthritic condition (including auto-immune RA!) than any of the 3 rheumies I've had - nor did any of them mention nightshades - which is rather elementary (at least in my estimation)!

    61852721b5ff3613f56f043fe890a679

    (1172)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 12:10 AM

    I did the phase thing with my mother as well (same age, same situation, roughly, with the added fun of hellish diverticular issues.) Phase 1, gluten out. Phase 2, diet soda out. Phase 3, sugar out. Etc. That was way more palatable to her, especially when she started to feel better (which was not, by the way, immediate, much to her frustration.)

    D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

    (543)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 12:02 AM

    I was unclear, I tried Atkins 35 yrs ago and disliked it, although I understand that diet has evolved, I don't really want to try it again, esp since paleo makes me feel so much better!

    A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

    (3501)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 11:37 PM

    While I really liked what you had to say, the "Atkins" part is a bit disturbing. Not sure what part of Atkins diet you tried but there's a lot of vegetables involved....some fruits as well. If you DON'T do any processed foods or partake in any Atkins products it's basically a paleo diet. Just sayin'. It's kind of what i'm doing now...and believe me...vegetables are aplenty!

    C1e6fe7bfc8687be41eb0a02b2f10723

    on April 24, 2011
    at 10:24 PM

    I agree. It seems that she also has hypoglycemia since she has to eat regularly or get shaky. Eating more high fat, higher protein with low carb will help that.

    C1e6fe7bfc8687be41eb0a02b2f10723

    on April 24, 2011
    at 10:22 PM

    Good Job to you. I am 67 and am trying to get my grown kids on board with paleo. Going paleo will give you more energy and less thoughts of being old- you are not.

    66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

    (12407)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 06:48 PM

    i mean 50 grams/day or less

    66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

    (12407)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 06:47 PM

    i'm sorry. very low carb. 50 carbs or less

    77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

    (78467)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 04:27 PM

    to insist on vlc but in his case vlc seemed to speed up a lot of healing what is vlc?

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    8 Answers

    3
    D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

    on April 24, 2011
    at 09:54 PM

    I would do what my son did to me! I'm a 64 yr old man in terrible health due to vegetarianism and pescatarianism. I suffer from loss of teeth, diverticular disease, multiple abdominal hernias, RA and osteo arthritis, Barrett's esophagus, as well as prostate cancer. My surgery last summer led my son on a campaign to get me on paleo - not that I was that resistant - he started with Taubes' "Good/Bad Calories" then a few months later Wolf's "Paleo Solution" - after ruminating on this material I decided that Wolf's 30 day challenge was worth investing in (what's 30 days out of 64 yrs REALLY1!!!) - now about 70 days later 28 lbs less, and off nearly all meds, feeling the weight of oppressive depression lifted - if I didn't have more hernias to repair (this summer's surgery) I would be giving any "iron man" a run for his money - alas it's the exercise I can't get in since it seems verboten! No lifting or weight bearing probably for the rest of my life! I had to give up nightshades - potatoes, eggplant, peppers (green/red), tomatoes (I still use minimal amts. of marinara sauce for spaghetti squash once a wk.). Perhaps most difficult for me and not totally successful is my addiction to cayenne and spicy foods - I've made tremendous headway in this area - I don't use cayenne - but there are spices I do use that include some hot pepper - to me it's too mild (I like to sweat when I eat!) - the other problematic areas are caffeine - I try to no avail to curtail my coffee intake and once a month I treat myself to 85% dark chocolate (the bar is gone in one sitting!). I'm off all meds for arthritis ( still have minor aches in hips and one knee and one wrist) but I was injecting myself twice a wk!!!! I don't mind a reminder of an ache now and then - it actually motivates me to keep up my paleo!! I was taking a reflux med - only take it once a wk ((give or take) - and then it's for the times I eat my cruciferous veggies which I love and you mentioned - cabbage, brussel sprouts, sauerkraut etc - they cause untold amounts of pain - hernia, bloating and reflux - but even cooked to death they're "good" for me - and I guess I'll stick with them = and take the medication so I can tolerate them! I don't think it's such a huge change to my life - especially when I experience no hunger on this meal plan-- I don't anticipate anything to "call me off of this eating style" -- being on disability in NYC I for one can't afford a daily regimen of grass-fed meat - more power to you if you can! I tend to buy one grass fed meat per wk(usually bison-burger) and do a lot of fish and liver the rest of the week - or whatever is cheap at the market - I don't get anything processed - NO GRAINS, NO DAIRY, NO LEGUMES, NO POTATOES (I do eat 1 yam a wk) - I'm not a "raw" food eater - don't even agree with it! I'm so glad I consider myself paleo now - and don't feel like I'm "denying myself"! I would like to start some site for older paleos - getting the most out of our "September" years - I mean - come on - we're not "young bucks" any more, and a lot of us are restricted from the "gym-buff" days of yester-year - sure there are a couple of "Charleton Hestons and Jack Lalaines" around, and maybe this new generation of paleos will be able to maintain that sort of thing - a lot of us got messed up with "Atkins" who's diet was so restrictive it made us sick (no fruits or veggies) - this is great - and I'll try to get more of us old folk involved - maybe we can get rid of our canes, crutches and walkers - and die a more pleasant death! Good Luck!!!

    A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

    (3501)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 11:37 PM

    While I really liked what you had to say, the "Atkins" part is a bit disturbing. Not sure what part of Atkins diet you tried but there's a lot of vegetables involved....some fruits as well. If you DON'T do any processed foods or partake in any Atkins products it's basically a paleo diet. Just sayin'. It's kind of what i'm doing now...and believe me...vegetables are aplenty!

    D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

    (543)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 12:02 AM

    I was unclear, I tried Atkins 35 yrs ago and disliked it, although I understand that diet has evolved, I don't really want to try it again, esp since paleo makes me feel so much better!

    C1e6fe7bfc8687be41eb0a02b2f10723

    on April 24, 2011
    at 10:22 PM

    Good Job to you. I am 67 and am trying to get my grown kids on board with paleo. Going paleo will give you more energy and less thoughts of being old- you are not.

    1
    7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

    on April 24, 2011
    at 11:19 PM

    Hey girlie!

    I dropped my blood pressure medication by keeping my carbs under 75 grams per day. I've been on the medication for 9 years. It isn't really vlc, just moderate carb, so I think that may be helpful to start there for her. I stick to sweet potatoes and usually 1 serving of fruit per day.

    The other thing is I still eat every 2-3 hours. I know it's very non-paleo, but it really helps me, being a former eating disordered person. My usual scheudle is 7am breakfast, 10am snack. 12pm lunch, 2pm snack, 5pm dinner or snack and 7/8pm snack. I have nutrient breakdowns for all of them too, because I'm a little bit crazy. I really helps to know when I"m going to be eating next.

    1
    A65499f2f8c65602881550fe309cd48c

    (3501)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 05:36 PM

    Here's what I would do, and have done. Because she's older, probably a bit set in her ways (hell, i'm 46 and pretty set in MY ways) and this change would be pretty big for her I would definately go in phases. An easy way to explain to someone how to begin eating this way is mainly, "if it comes in a box or a bag and you HAVE to cook it in order for it to be edible, then don't get it". In other words, Meats, vegetables you can eat raw (you don't HAVE to, you just could if you have to) and fruits and some seeds and nuts and a bit of honey if you need a sweetner, And a bit of dairy...try that for two weeks...forget about all the "ratios", etc. That can be so confusing and disheartening when you're trying to figure out "can I eat this with that" etc. By nature of just cutting out the majority of the bad stuff, the processed stuff she will probably feel loads better and have more energy and motivation to continue.

    61852721b5ff3613f56f043fe890a679

    (1172)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 12:10 AM

    I did the phase thing with my mother as well (same age, same situation, roughly, with the added fun of hellish diverticular issues.) Phase 1, gluten out. Phase 2, diet soda out. Phase 3, sugar out. Etc. That was way more palatable to her, especially when she started to feel better (which was not, by the way, immediate, much to her frustration.)

    Medium avatar

    (2169)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 10:37 PM

    The funny thing is, she already stays pretty far away from really processed foods. She eats eggs, bacon and a whole grain english muffin for breakfast, lunch is leftovers, and dinner is a grilled/baked/sauteed meat with steamed or sauteed veggies. I'm starting to wonder if her high blood pressure is caused by her lack of exercise. She probably does eat over 150 grams of carbs a day, so maybe we can start dialing that back, but I don't want her to be miserable and feel like she can't bake cookies during a bad week. They also drink 2% milk, which I'm going to try to get them to switch to whole.

    1
    E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

    on April 24, 2011
    at 03:59 PM

    Is it possible that the GERD is an ulcer? If that's the case, then get some cabbage into her diet. I can't remember the name of the enzyme in it, but it's supposed to combat h. pylori if I remember correctly. I have an ulcer that is healing (and I thought it was heartburn) but mine was developed before I realized I have celiac disease, and was likely aggravated by it.

    I agree with luckybastard and your own thoughts on which way to go with her diet. I would suggest you help her do it in stages though, because GF is a massive step all on its own, and some of the sugars and other fillers start to come out on their own with that one step. I'd make sure she has lots of variety to start with so she doesn't get bored or overwhelmed. Once that step is done, the others should be easier.

    As for tomatoes, put her on a challenge and let her see for herself. Once pasta and bread is cut out, tomatoes/nightshades, in my opinion, have fewer obvious culinary uses (no spaghetti) so she may not miss them as much. Suggest she do two weeks without them, then reintroduce and see how she feels.

    This is all assuming she's the kind of person who is determined enough to stick with any of it for long enough to notice a difference, and if she feels like the trade off is worth it. I have a good friend who has a lot of health problems, notices dramatic improvement when she follows more of these principles, yet she cheats often. She convinces herself "a little" is ok, and she suffers for it. I've told her that it's a good thing she never got into alcohol or drugs because she'd be in the gutter right now! Anyway, good luck and don't get frustrated if her curiosity doesn't lead to the kind of action you'd like to see.

    1
    66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

    on April 24, 2011
    at 03:35 PM

    She sounds like the female version of my dad. I think your approach of what telling her what not to eat is the best course of action. Concentrate on removing the gluten grains, the industrial seed oils and high sugar content out of her diet. She's not morbidly obese like my dad was so I don't think it's absolutely necessary to insist on vlc but in his case vlc seemed to speed up a lot of healing in the hypertension area. He also has dramatically reduced inflammation in hips and knees. Basically beating back the inflammation by removing the main 3 offenders should reap great benefits.

    Edit: his GERD did much better on the basic lacto-paleo. But Ive been encouraging him to eat fermented vegetables like Kim chi and sauerkraut to take care of it for good. Chris Kresser over at thehealthyskeptic.org has a great protocol for GERD.

    66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

    (12407)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 06:48 PM

    i mean 50 grams/day or less

    C1e6fe7bfc8687be41eb0a02b2f10723

    on April 24, 2011
    at 10:24 PM

    I agree. It seems that she also has hypoglycemia since she has to eat regularly or get shaky. Eating more high fat, higher protein with low carb will help that.

    77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

    (78467)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 04:27 PM

    to insist on vlc but in his case vlc seemed to speed up a lot of healing what is vlc?

    66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

    (12407)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 06:47 PM

    i'm sorry. very low carb. 50 carbs or less

    0
    2193cb1eca1a0eda4b2cad910074634e

    on April 25, 2011
    at 01:14 PM

    Semirade--thank you for posting! Congratulations on your actions to change your behaviors and diet! Terrific post with terrific information especially for people who are not young. I am a grandma in my mid 50's, former vegetarian for 20+ years who also flirted with vegansim on an off during those years.

    Yes, to the website for those of us who are not spring chickens!! It seems most (recent survey) eating Paleo are young--professional. I feel like I am walking in uncharted territory as an "Old Chrone" (post menopausal woman with age) making the transition to Paleo from being a vegetarian.

    What I am most interested in is how to redefine aging! I do not want to live forever but I do want to have a very high quality of life while I am living devoid of medications and engagement in the massively flawed medical system.

    While I realize this is shared by those who rebel against the current SAD promoted program by the government it is particularly challenging with age due to lifelong mindset and behaviors complicated by income (Ask how many of us have been put out to pasture prematurely!); and a multitude of other factors.

    So YES to a website for those of us over 50 who are the Senior Groks!

    D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

    (543)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 02:33 PM

    Hey Lavender! Thanks - maybe we should start a site! Isn't it amazing that with all the advances in tech - the concentration on nutrition is all but absent in the medical profession! Thanks to the net we have much more info (too much?) about medical conditions and there's little excuse for ignorance about our concerns - trouble is - is the info accurate? Paleo has been of more benefit to my arthritic condition (including auto-immune RA!) than any of the 3 rheumies I've had - nor did any of them mention nightshades - which is rather elementary (at least in my estimation)!

    0
    C0cf19329f850011e66d1ccfa7d10896

    (268)

    on April 25, 2011
    at 04:04 AM

    seems all have some great ideas. I would follow a low carb, moderate protein.. as high protein is a recipe for a cancer disaster! She does sound pre-diabetic if not already. There was a great debate by Dr Rosedale and Dr K on this site that was very interesting. I have heard Dr. Rosedale talk at many large conventions, probably the most talented MD on nutrition and metabolic science out there. I have my mum on his program, she is 67, and sounded like yours a few years back. She lost a lot of the fat around her middle (the most dangerous type) BP and BS all came in line all without exercise. good luck.

    0
    B1fcaceba952861d0324bdb291edbbe0

    (3159)

    on April 24, 2011
    at 04:05 PM

    Books:

    Internet Resources: What is Paleo all about?

    Free recipe sites

    EDIT: I just realized I didn't answer the questions ... I don't know what happened to my brain ... sorry about that ... I'll edit this later ... I don't see a delete option ...

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