Rum loving mom won't take illnesses seriously

Donovan Grant

Monday, April 22, 2019

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Dear Donovan,
My mother has both hypertension and diabetes and while she takes her medication for the most part, it is difficult for us to get her to eat right and exercise. She is 66 years old, and recently had a mild stroke because she stopped taking her hypertension medication. She claims that she doesn't like the food we cook for her, and so she finds herself at the neighbourhood cookshop where she buys all the things she shouldn't eat. She also doesn't do much activity except for walking down the road to buy food. It has become very frustrating for everybody, because she doesn't care about her health, and doesn't understand the gravity of her illnesses. How can we make food and exercise fun for her? For example, she likes chicken, pork and turkey neck, but not the way we cook them. The only vegetable she will touch is cabbage, and she wants rum in every drink. Can you suggest a way for us to help her?

Unfortunately, most of us have a parent or parents who are experiencing medical challenges as they age. Most of these challenges centre around lifestyle illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Such medical issues should be treated properly. Hence your mother needs to be guided and supervised in taking her medication and eating the right kinds of foods for her condition.

You have mentioned that she has had a mild stoke before. It is very important that this does not occur again since this could jeopardise her health as well as cause emotional and financial pressure on the family. It is of great importance that she understands the gravity of the situation and that she makes the lifestyle changes necessary to get her health back on track. However, this is easier said than done.

A very important point to note is that your mother may be going through some emotional problems and she may even be suffering from depression. From just reading your letter, it does not sound like your mother is very happy at all. The foods that she wants to eat and the fact that she wants to put rum in all her drinks may speak to a deeper problem. I would suggest for a start that you could speak to her as a family and have her open up to and possibly tell what she is feeling. It may even be a situation where she may need to see a professional counsellor as she is just not making the connection between her lifestyle and her health.

If she is not able to make this connection, it is going to be a hard task to get her to eat healthy and do exercises. Ideally, in her situation she should be eating more fruits, vegetables, salads, soups, whole grains, ground provisions, vegetable juices and yoghurt instead of the foods from the cook shop which are often filled with oil and salt. In people with diabetes, it is a bit hard for them to taste sugar properly. This may also in some cases happen with salt for some people who are hypertensive. This might be part of the reason why she is attracted to the cook shop food rather than the home-made meals.

The other question that is going through my mind is, where is she getting the funds to buy these things? Is she able to provide them on her own? It might be a case where if she cannot fund the cook shop food, then she will eat the home cooked food. Is there a person at home who can prepare and monitor what she eats as well as make sure that she takes her medications? This is very crucial going forward.

I would suggest that you try to find creative ways to make her want to have her healthy, cooked food at home. If she does not want to eat vegetables, try to make drinks from them and see if she would drink vegetable juices instead. Create a meal plan for her that is healthy and tasty that will keep her away from consuming unhealthy foods. Also, she may need to be more engaged in some activities. Maybe taking her out to the beach or park might also be helpful.

Good luck.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.


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