Helping Dad Make Healthy Food Choices Without Drama

Helping Dad Make Healthy Food Choices Without Drama

Barbecues, family, friends, and food – all quintessential elements of Father’s Day celebrations.

This weekend, dads everywhere can be found behind the grill (possibly in a funny chef’s hat and apron), cooking up some summer favorites including hot dogs and hamburgers, but do we ever stop to think about this feast and what this food really means?

For those of us with aging fathers and even for those with dads in good health, should we take into consideration how we are celebrating dad?

This Father’s Day, I find myself asking these questions as I’m in unfamiliar territory regarding the relationship with the father figures in my life – both of which are battling some very serious diseases as one has Alzheimer’s and the other has Stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These conditions, although very different (as are the two individuals), have commonality in the importance of nutrition and the quality of the foods eaten.

A diet including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains are recommended and have shown to assist with disease management as well as prevention, which leads me to another common denominator – the struggle of my input on the foods they consume and being heard by either person.

As a daughter, I only have the best of intentions as I want them to be around for their grandchildren. It’s challenging when met with a constant resistance to change, but I continue to work to find the realistic shifts in their eating patterns that can be made, and celebrate those victories no matter how small or big.

Whether they think it or not, I understand the importance of enjoying life including the foods we eat. All of life’s celebrations are centered around meals and foods relating to special occasions such as Father’s Day. Eating healthful and nutritious foods does not mean depriving ourselves of enjoyment.

Healthy foods should taste delicious in addition to making us feel good. Most importantly, eating healthful foods can go hand in hand to manage chronic disease and prevention of it to promote overall health and wellness. It’s important to consider the quality of foods being consumed as we truly are what we eat.

So, as I continue my journey to find solutions to working with my own family, I want to offer a few simple tips to assist with navigating around a weekend filled with fun, family and lots of food:

  • Eat some food beforehand to avoid arriving on an empty stomach
  • Snack on veggies for appetizers, which can also be used in place of chips along with dips
  • Choose lean proteins such as fish or chicken if possible
  • Fill half of your plate with veggies (i.e. salad or grilled vegetables)
  • Swap out desserts such as cake or ice cream for some fresh fruit
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Choose a smaller plate and sit down while you’re munching instead of hovering over a buffet table filled with food to keep track of what you’re eating

Happy and healthy Father’s Day to all.


Alison Hadavi is a licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN, RD) through the Commission on Dietetic Registration and a Health & Wellness Coach with Teacup Wellness. Alison specializes in counseling clients primarily in the areas of behavioral and lifestyle changes including meal planning, weight loss, fitness as well as disease prevention and management.

Photo used with permission.


Special note from Teacup’s founder Anne Mitchell 

Sending love to all of those who cannot be with our dads on this special day. And prayers that our president sees his way clear to reunite families that have been torn apart by the misguided use of our immigration laws.

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