AlzU Blog

Eating Out with Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease

Is there such a thing as healthy restaurant food?  For caregivers supporting family members with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), eating out can bring a two-fold challenge.  Selecting brain healthy foods on the menu can certainly be a real dilemma.  Ensuring a quiet and peaceful environment for those with AD who experience anxiety and/or confusion is another factor to consider when eating out.  Individuals with AD don’t always respond well to large crowds or a high level of noise.
Alzheimer’s nutrition includes a balance of fresh healthy foods. A vital part of healthy nutrition for those with AD and family members attempting to adhere to the Alzheimer’s diet includes being able to select healthy foods when dining out.  Here are some tips for eating to stay healthy at a restaurant:

  • Opt for healthy appetizers such as hummus and pita bread or fresh vegetables instead of fried fatty choices
  • Select brown or wild rice in place of fries or chips
  • Ask for a list of ingredients to uncover unhealthy hidden ingredients
  • Avoid processed foods and foods cooked in unhealthy fat (feel free to ask what type of oil is used for cooking)
  • Choose grilled foods instead of fried entrees
  • If you do order a burger, avoid the unhealthy condiments and request a whole wheat bun if available
  • Substitute a side salad for fries or chips
  • Forgo soft drinks
  • Avoid batter dipped fried chicken or fish
  • Be aware that unhealthy fat in salad dressing could mean that a grilled sandwich could be a healthier choice
  • Keep in mind that it’s not important where but rather what you eat
  • Be conscious of portion sizes, in general eat only half the entre and take the rest home in a doggy bag

Keep in mind that recent research indicates that even eating an occasional unhealthy meal at a restaurant can sabotage your overall health.  Eating a brain healthy diet for Alzheimer’s prevention includes changing eating habits even when eating out.
Tips for selecting the best restaurant environment

  • Select a restaurant that is familiar to the individual with AD
  • Avoid the lunch or dinner rush
  • Request a table near the bathroom that is easily accessible, in a quiet area
  • Pick a restaurant with healthy choices including brain healthy foods
  • Earlier in the day may be the best time to go out when your loved one with AD has the most energy
  • Choose a restaurant with a friendly and helpful staff
  • Assist the individual with AD in choosing a healthy food selection and limit the number of choices to just a few
  • Don’t hesitate to speak up and ask for special accommodations when needed

Eating out is a healthy part of socialization and recreation for those with AD. It’s always nice for the caregiver and family members to undergo a change of environment as well.  By making just a few adjustments and planning ahead, you can ensure it’s a great experience for everyone involved.

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