Tackling Malnutrition: Food and Nutritional Supplements
It can be a struggle for those with a smaller appetite to get the nutrients and calories they need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Its not always as simple as eating our 3 meals a day plus snacks. While the term ‘malnutrition’ might sound scary, there are plenty of easy ways to help loved ones get more nutrients into their diet; and supplements can be a great way of doing this.
In this blog you can discover some practical tips that can help someone who may be at risk of malnutrition.
What is malnutrition?
Malnutrition, as defined by the British Dietetic Association, is when you don’t get the correct amount of nutrients from your diet. Malnutrition continues to be a serious problem in our communities. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 live with malnutrition or at risk of. But there’s plenty that we can all do to help manage the diet of those who need more nutrients.
Tackling malnutrition: A 'Food First Approach'.
Dietitians are healthcare professionals that help you achieve a healthy diet through recommendations based on latest research on food and diet.
If there is a gap between food intake and nutrition requirements that needs to be corrected to prevent weight loss or malnutrition, Dietitians will initially recommend a ‘food first approach’.
A food fist approach is using food and drinks to increase the calories of your diet and can be a more enjoyable and beneficial way to tackle malnutrition before moving on to more invasive options.
Examples of ‘food first approach’ strategies are using:
- Small manageable high calorie high protein meals often during the day, such as our Mini Meals Extra
- Food fortification with high calories options (e.g. adding cream to mashed potatoes, adding cheese to pasta dishes)
- High energy and protein snacks (e.g. nut butters, pork pies, cakes)
- Nourishing drinks (e.g. milkshakes with skimmed milk powder, Horlicks, Ovaltine)
Having ready meals that are high in calories and protein, such as our Mini Meals Extra, available to your door can provide an easier solution for you and your loved ones struggling with malnutrition. These convenient and delicious meals can help ensure your loved ones get the calories and nutrients they need into their diet.
We recommend speaking to your Dietitian for advice, recipes and ideas on how to increase your food intake using a ‘food first approach’. If you want to know more about a ‘food first approach’, head over to our page Managing Malnutrition at Home.
Tackling malnutrition: Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS)
If are able to eat and drink but struggling to meet your nutritional needs through food and drinks only, a dietitian may recommend using Oral Nutrition Supplements (ONS) to tackle malnutrition.
ONS are nutritional solutions most commonly used to supplement your diet, rather than meal replacements. Some ONS are nutritionally complete and may be suitable as the only source of nutrition in specific cases and depending on your health circumstances. There are also specialist ONS to cater for specific diseases (e.g. kidney disease). We recommend speaking to your dietitian for personalised advice on ONS and what best suits your needs.
ONS are highly regulated products that are available in different formats:
- Ready to drink
- Semi solids (e.g. pudding style)
- Powdered which requires to be made up into a liquid.
This means there plenty of options available to suit your needs and preferences. For example, semi solids ONS are available for those living with swallowing difficulties who are at risk of malnutrition. ONS also come in different flavours, with chocolate, vanilla and berry flavours being the most common.
ONS may not be a solution for everyone. For example, their high fat content may not be tolerated by those unable to digest fat or their flavour may be disliked by those with changes in their taste buds (e.g. after cancer treatments). It can also be distressing seeing your loved ones having to use Oral Nutritional Supplements instead of food to tackle malnutrition. It is important to consider these factors with your Dietitian to understand the best course of action for you.
How our meals can help.
Malnutrition is a big challenge. There is a higher need for nutrients often together with lower appetite and interest in food, and malnutrition can strip away some of the pleasure of enjoying your favourite foods if using Oral Nutritional Supplements.
At Wiltshire Farm Foods, we understand these challenges. That is why our expert chefs and dietitians have created delicious dishes that are tasty, good looking and nutritious to help you get the most of out of life.
Our Mini Meals Extra is our great range of small, delicious meals specifically created to give the necessary nutrients and satisfying feeling of a meal, but in a smaller more manageable serving. Each meal has at least 500 calories and minimum of 20 g of protein to help your loved ones malnutrition in a more enjoyable way. Browse our Mini Meals Extra range online or request a brochure for Free.