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How to deal with anti-Paleo T2D parents

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 19, 2012 at 4:07 PM

So my mom has type 2 diabetes. She thinks it's well controlled because she takes drugs for it but she's overweight, has erratic sleeping schedules, and gets little exercise. Some of her bad food habits include: carrying candy around in her purse, buying packs of candy sometimes, eating white bread and packaged sandwich meat sandwiches, she always seems to have packages of ramen noodles laying around, and minimal consumption of fruits and vegetables (she says they make her gassy). Growing up she always was careful to ensure that my brother and I got lots of protein and fresh vegetables. I don't understand why she thinks she is an exception. She also has suspected Fibro and is a breast cancer survivor. What should or can I do to help her? I don't imagine I'm the first one in this position.

Some other context. She thinks this Paleo diet that I'm on is a fad and that I'll get tired of it quickly. At least she's been willing to respect it when cooking for me (of course, she won't touch the food). My dad is overweight too but at least he exercises sometimes, relaxes a lot, gets good regular sleep, eats an entire salad bowl every night, and confines his eating to 8 hours a day (standard American dieting). He's a primary care physician (PCP) so he understands the problems with my mom's lifestyle but also feels powerless to do anything about it. He won't really discuss diet with me but he's Paleo neutral I think.

Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on March 21, 2012
at 04:20 PM

You have the best of intentions, and I'm sure you're trying to help her, but it's still not appropriate to try to control another adult's diet like that. Even though she's diabetic, and has to deal with all the challenges of her current lifestyle/situation. Explaining your point of view is one thing (although if she turns you down, don't harass her), but trying to dictate her diet by withholding access to her grandkids is not OK.

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on March 20, 2012
at 02:17 PM

I think it came out wrong. I was thinking more along the lines of explaining to her that she'll become too sick to enjoy the grandkids. Diabetics don't have a clear mind, though, which is what makes it hard. Not only are those foods addictive but they also have carb cravings that we can't appreciate. I'm sure that there's diabetic support groups but I also imagine that only the sickest of them attend because the rest think that their drugs have cured them.

24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on March 19, 2012
at 06:30 PM

Excellent advice, especially about the kids; I think that's a terrible idea in this case.

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5 Answers

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5
Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on March 19, 2012
at 05:00 PM

I know it's hard to see a loved one eating in a way that's harming them, but ultimately your mother is an adult and you have to respect her right to make her own food choices. Just like you want everyone else to respect YOUR right to make your own food choices. It doesn't matter whether (in your opinion) her choices are right or wrong; as an adult, she is the only person who gets to decide what she eats.

In this situation, it's perfectly appropriate to sit down for a frank and honest "I'm concerned about you" discussion and talk about it like adults. If she refuses to do anything differently, that's HER decision, not yours. Trying to passive-aggressively control her behavior by cutting off her access to her grandchildren is cruel. By all means, don't let her FEED your kids; by all means, explain to your kids why she's sick all the time and talk about it with them, but blackmailing her like that is ridiculous.

This is all assuming that your mother doesn't have a mental degenerative disease that would make her incompetent to care for herself (like Parkinson's or something).

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on March 20, 2012
at 02:17 PM

I think it came out wrong. I was thinking more along the lines of explaining to her that she'll become too sick to enjoy the grandkids. Diabetics don't have a clear mind, though, which is what makes it hard. Not only are those foods addictive but they also have carb cravings that we can't appreciate. I'm sure that there's diabetic support groups but I also imagine that only the sickest of them attend because the rest think that their drugs have cured them.

Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on March 21, 2012
at 04:20 PM

You have the best of intentions, and I'm sure you're trying to help her, but it's still not appropriate to try to control another adult's diet like that. Even though she's diabetic, and has to deal with all the challenges of her current lifestyle/situation. Explaining your point of view is one thing (although if she turns you down, don't harass her), but trying to dictate her diet by withholding access to her grandkids is not OK.

3
3e50e89e6965cbeb73628bca54bc60a6

on March 19, 2012
at 05:10 PM

I don't think there's anything you can do at this point but lead by your own good example. Unless people are ready to change, they're just not going to, no matter what you do. My wife's a type II diabetic, significantly overweight, has chronic knee pain, etc., etc. We've been eating Paleo for about two and half weeks now, and the things that finally convinced her to give it a real try were: 1) she's sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and 2) watching a good friend of ours slowly go down hill health wise, to the point that she may have to leave work on disability, and my wife not wanting to end up like that. I doubt your Mom will be open to making a real change until she has that kind of epiphany of her own. In the mean time, I'd say keep doing your thing, and don't push your Mom, or she's just going to resent you for it. I think it's perfectly reasonable to have a discussion with her about your concerns, but if you've already done that, drop it. And threatening to cut her off from her grandkids would be about the worst thing you could do. You may not like her dietary choices, but it's not like she's smoking crack, even though you may feel like the end result isn't much better.

24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on March 19, 2012
at 06:30 PM

Excellent advice, especially about the kids; I think that's a terrible idea in this case.

1
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on March 19, 2012
at 04:55 PM

It's been my experience that the best "advertisement" for a nutritional path is the health and success of the people who are on it. Especially where family members are concerned, there is usually a lot of history behind family members and their resistance when ANOTHER family member wants to change a cherished pattern like eating.

I'd suggest figuring out what some of her favorite things are, and then, when she visits or you visit her, bringing paleo-friendly versions of her favorites. If she likes processed-meat-and-white-bread sandwiches, Try bringing roast beef or turkey "roll-ups" instead.

I can't suggest anything for the candy. As long as she's still eating sugar, maybe you can slowly move her towards carrying, say, something with 65% or better dark chocolate content -- at least as a starting point.

Invite her to come do outdoor PLAY things with you and the kids... and encourage her to participate. Yes, it might mean that you and the kids will have to slow down to her pace, but the point is to get her to choose for herself to be more active and participate more in the process.

Sometimes, it's just about giving people the chance to feel like they have control over their own choices. In the end, she'll have to make changes because she WANTS to make changes--forcing her won't produce lasting change, and manipulating her will only cause resentment and true anger, and drive her even FURTHER from desiring to make any beneficial changes for herself.

Any time you see her making positive changes, reward them. Provide her with tools -- cookbooks, information to manage her 'gas' (and maybe some articles to show her that the gas may actually be from the grains, not the veggies)... basically, guide her along the path, but don't try to push her along it... let her see because you lead by example. And don't let dad nag, either -- that won't help, and could seriously impede her progress.

Hope this helps. Maybe, at some point, she'll be willing to join a community where she can ask questions and maybe get some more encouragement -- we'll be happy to help then, too.

0
5af4bc9d2c390b0bcad9524f149c1b4f

(1101)

on March 19, 2012
at 06:15 PM

My mom is type 2 as well and all she ever does is cut me off. She's also an alcoholic, so she never remembers anything I say to begin with.

She's also a big comfort food person, so what did I do? I bought her the Primal Blueprint and Paleo Comfort Foods. She's on board with "low-carb" diets but is still lipidphobic. All you can really do is let parents explore on their own. If you push them too much, they'll probably get antsy about it and push back more. :/

0
F80aaa96354eb749a8a5efdda3feba7d

on March 19, 2012
at 06:02 PM

The best thing I did was to get my sister to read robb wolfes book.

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