Hi Runningwild. We are all reluctant to let go of things we 'know'. You parents will have been conditioned by years of 'conventional wisdom' about what it meant by a 'nutritionally balanced diet' and what they should do to exercise/get fit. They will not only cling to conventional wisdom, but also they will cling to the same sources of advice. If a doctor tells you to 'cut saturated fat' it is tough to challenge his advice becuase...well he IS a doctor!
At the risk of repeating myself from another thread, you could first try smashing the 'eat less, do more paradigm' with which they will have great faith. This idea will be deep rooted in your mother's psyche:
Ask your mum what she thinks we should do TO LOSE FAT. I am pretty sure that EVERY answer she gives will be along the lines of the 'conventional wisdom':
- 'EAT LESS food,' and,
- 'DO MORE exercise'.
Now suggest to her the following scenario; "If we were to go out for a celebratory meal at an expensive restaurant and I told you to 'bring your appetite', what would you do to COMPEL yourself to EAT MORE than usual?"
Your mum's suggestions will likely fall in to one of two categories:
- Skipping a meal prior to the restaurant visit, or eating smaller portions in the meal(s) prior to the restaurant (basically 'EAT LESS')
- Go to the gym or for a walk or do some other exercise (to 'work up' an appetite). This approach is essentially 'DO MORE'
So you should see the paradox there (and so will you mum); that the VERY thing she is suggesting to do to LOSE WEIGHT ('eat less, do more'), is the VERY thing she'd do to COMPEL herself to eat more ('eat less, do more')!
Obesity is a consequence of hormonal regulation and metabolic factors, not one of calorie management.
The next thing to do is to tackle their fear of fats - especially saturated fats and general suspicion of eating (too much) meat. I like to ask people what kind of fat the human body stores its fat as? Answer: saturated fat. Ask your parents do they really think that 2 million years of evolution would lead to our bodies storing fat in a form that is toxic to itself?
Another point to bring up around fat is that EVERYONE on a fat/weight loss diet is actually on a high fat diet! The reason being that if you are obese and go on a diet. As soon as you start to lose fat/weight, it is because your body is 'eating' its energy stores.
Finally - the issue of what to eat. The paleo concept is VERY simple. Get your parents to think about what they'd eat if they were stuck on a desert island. This will give them a rough guide to understand what constitutes 'paleo'.
Their answer should essentially be along the lines of foraging for some seasonal fruits and vegetation. In winter you'd forage for tubers and roots. Grains would NOT be part of the mix - or negligible at most. But they should see that to survive in such a situation, they'd have to hunt. By far the most of their food would be animal - and not just the 'choice cuts' we seek today, but also organ meat and tongue. The same approach has led us to populate extreme climates and survive several ice ages.
They should see from these scenarios, plants do have a supplenmental role in diet, but it is a secondary role. There are grey areas (around dairy in particular), and there is also the issue of IF to cover.
Hope this makes sense and that you find it useful. Best of luck converting them. It is NEVER too late to eat better!