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Food addictions - resist or give in?


Registered User
Mar 19, 2015
Central Scotland
First post, so please be gentle. My Mum is 93, and has a vascular dementia diagnosis, but is still living in her own home, alone but with support from social services (two visits per day) and me. I live close by, but work full-time in a demanding job, and travel quite often. Her progress from diagnosis, about two years ago, has been slow but marked, and we're starting to have more practical problems to deal with. The one exercising me most (at the moment) is eating. My mum has always had a good appetite and healthy diet, but has, over the past few months, got increasingly addicted to certain foods.

Longest has been bagged lettuce - and not just any old lettuce - the fancy Florette stuff. She gets through a bag a day, but would eat (much) more if I supplied more. I've been tolerant of this, although keeping her in fresh lettuce has been challenging at times ;-).

Next-up has been white fish - fresh haddock for preference, and in a raw state so that she can fry it up fresh with fish-dressing. This is also hard to supply daily, fresh, but again I've managed. She's gone from twice or three times a week to wanting it twice a day (ie, every meal).

Finally and most recently, is cereal. She appears to like any children's cereal, and will happily eat an entire box over a 24 hour period. Bran flakes and alpen don't work, because she's dentally challenged. So now her diet consists of lettuce, white fish, and cereal. Plus large quantities of tea and assorted biscuits. I buy her lots of other foods, and sometimes she'll cook them - but won't ever eat more than a couple of mouthfuls, largely because she's full of lettuce, fish and cereal, I suppose! She's gradually stopped eating fresh fruit, cheese, eggs, and many of the other staples.

I'm conscious that she's alone for most of the day, and clearly gets pleasure from grazing on cereal and lettuce. If I was around, I might be able to encourage her to eat more, different, things - but I'm not there, except in the evenings, and mostly she's had her tea before I arrive, anyway.

Shall I let her be, on this odd mixture? She's happy and healthy on it, it would appear, and a normal weight. There are certainly more harmful addictions out there, and I'm tired of nagging her to eat things, and throwing away premium ready-meals scarcely eaten (although I've got dogs so there are always eager mouths to hoover up that yummy rejected chicken and beef).

Anyone else experience this kind of behaviour? Does it change or worsen, and is it easier just to give in?

Thanks in advance



Registered User
Aug 22, 2009
I think you should keep her in supplies and provide a couple of alternatives where you can, perhaps tins or packets so that they don't perish, just in case she does want a change. She seems healthy and happy enough with this restricted diet so I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of variety.


Registered User
Oct 5, 2013
At 93 with vas dem, I wouldn't worry at all. OH lived for some time, in his 70s on fresh orange juice and dark chocolate! He lost weight, but you say you mum hasn't. TBH I would let her continue. She might decide to change as OH did, though in his case, I had to introduce food slowly as his stomach has forgotten what to do! Your mum is eating more than he did, so I really wouldn't worry.
BTW, OH is still around, at home ( though I decide at least twice a week it's time for a care home!) and is 82 now, and he eventually put all his weight back on.


Registered User
Mar 16, 2014
New Zealand
At least she is eating :)

I would let her be - as you say, she appears healthy and happy. I think there comes a stage where the quality of the calories consumed (thinking mainly of the cereal) really does not matter.


Registered User
Nov 9, 2013
she is eating carbs, protein and some veg all be it lettuce leaves! there is some added vitamins to cereal , I would Let her carry on ... at least she is eating something. If she is having milk with the cereal she is also getting some dairy.w


Registered User
May 27, 2011
Quite balanced?

Well the great thing is she is getting a healthy protein source from the fish, a healthy carbohydrate source (and luckily kid's cereals are also fortified with iron and minerals) from the cereal (and plenty of calcium from the milk) and a green vegetable! As restricted diets go she is eating quite well :)

I guess the only things she really needs are some extra vegetables with her lettuce (maybe some mixed peppers and tomatoes?) and the occasional piece of chicken or meat with her salad and she'll be fine! Perhaps she could also have a glass of fruit juice or smoothie with her cereal, a little grated cheese on her lettuce and a few vegetables with her fish? If she refuses to eat anything but her favourites then could you try giving her a multivitamin to make sure she gets everything she needs!
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Registered User
Mar 19, 2015
Central Scotland

:) Thanks so much for helpful and reassuring replies - and it sounds as if it's really more my problem rather than hers. Having just finished bringing up my three kids, it's very strongly ingrained in me to push her towards eating healthily, and I find myself talking to her exactly as I talked to the children, about five years ago, when I was trying to get them to eat more vegetables and fewer biscuits.:rolleyes:

As an aside, what a great forum this is - i've spent ages reading through some of the past threads, and so much reflects this shadow-world my Mum's gradually entering. It's a really difficult transition for both me and her, but I'm very grateful that she's had 90+ years of full and active life before she's begun to slip away. I just want to try to make the 'next' bit as easy as possible for us both; and stressing about things that really don't matter that much - like her non-standard diet - is something that I need to work harder on.


Registered User
Apr 5, 2010
MIL would only eat biscuits, sweets or cream cakes. All other food was thrown out or frozen.

Your Mum sounds like she us doing fine on her diet. Did she grow up eating a lot of fish?


Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
Auckland...... New Zealand
Apart from Mums obsession with chocolate, cakes and biscuits I'm sorry I had to laugh about the fish.

Mum 73 with AD & Dad 77 with MCI here.

It was Mums birthday a few Mondays ago and we went out for lunch.
Both Mum & Dad had fish & chips.
The next day Mum & Dad went to their local club for lunch... they had fish & chips.
Wednesday I took Mum grocery shopping, she bought some fresh fish, and they had fish & chips for dinner.
On the Saturday Mum & Dad asked me to drop them off at their club for dinner.
What did they have but fish bites and chips. But they had some left over so Mum wrapped them up in serviettes and took them home and dad put them in the fridge.
What did they have for dinner on the Sunday left over fish and chips.

That was an unusual week for them and they don't usually go out that much.
When I pointed out to them that they had had fish & chips 5x that week, they wouldn't believe me :)

I'm in the camp now of "Don't sweat the small stuff" ( as much as I find myself shaking my head and biting my tounge)


Registered User
Dec 11, 2013
My mum's "addiction" is to sweet and sour chicken. "You can never upset me with that", she says. Well, she will also eat crisps and biscuits til they come out of her ears, or shop-bought prawn mayo sandwiches....me, I'm just pleased she's eating :)


Registered User
Mar 13, 2015
All sounds very healthy! From what you described half the problem is you laying your hands on the special items that she wants and delivering it - could book a weekly supermarket delivery of Cheerios, lettuce and white fish?!


Registered User
Nov 9, 2009
Hi:) so pleased your mum is still enjoying her food, my mum lost over 3 stone at the beginning of her journey into dementia world-she was a very healthy eater but I did not understand at the time that she (or rather her sick brain) "decided" she would rather like foods that she considered "junk" pork pies,sausage rolls etc..it has been a bit hit and miss but now she has a mix of "junk" ready to eat foods and a mix of healthy options, she is 83 and is still independent in shopping and eating,gained weight and her blood pressure and blood tests all come back saying she is in the peak of (physical) health:rolleyes: your mum really is having a healthy diet..but above all she is enjoying her food..that is a real blessing.


Registered User
Mar 19, 2015
Central Scotland
There is an amusing side to it, I admit. Everyone I've told about my mum's 'lettuce habit' has found it funny, and watching her eat it, often absent-mindedly straight out of the bag as she watches TV, is quite bizarre. She also went through a phase of insisting that it was lamb, not lettuce - presumably because one of the 'premium' leaves is lambs lettuce. Now, when she asks me for it, she calls it 'that green stuff' or else 'a bag of a variety of things'. Never lettuce. But it's so expensive, and it pains me that she spends £30+ a month on lettuce. Fortunately, she can afford it (that, and the fish, which isn't cheap either). I've taken to going to my local supermarkets just before they close, when the discounts go onto the date-expiring bags - and snapping up a £1.75 bag of Florette crispy for 10p - or even 5p, on a lucky night - gives me a HUGE THRILL.

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