Managing overeating and dementia

Some people with dementia may eat too much or too often. This page has tips on how to manage these situations.

What causes overeating?

Some people with dementia may forget that they’ve recently eaten or be concerned about when the next meal is coming. If a person is overeating, they may also eat foods that aren’t appropriate. They might be frequently asking or searching for food. This can be a stressful situation for them and the people around them.

People with certain types of dementia – such as frontotemporal dementia – may be more likely to experience excessive eating and other changes to eating behaviour. These may include changes in dietary preference and obsession with particular foods. 

Someone with dementia may also drink too much alcohol.

Ways to help manage overeating

  • Ensure that the person has something to do, so that they don’t feel bored or lonely.
  • Divide the original portion into two and offer the second one if the person asks for more.
  • Fill most of the plate with salad or vegetables.
  • Make sure the person is well hydrated as they may be mistaking thirst for hunger. Ensure they have a drink with their meal if possible.
  • Leave bite-sized fruit or healthy snacks, such as chopped bananas, orange segments or grapes, within reach for the person to snack on when they want to.
  • Offer the person a low-calorie drink instead of more food.
  • Consider not having certain foods in the house, or substituting them with low-fat or low-calorie versions. 

If the person has developed a strong preference for particular foods, and is not eating enough of other foods, or if they are struggling with excess weight gain, ask the GP for referral to a dietitian.