Many people think the main job of a dietitian is to help others lose weight. People are surprised to find out, in my specialization at least, that it’s quite the contrary! Most days, I am checking weight- to make sure my patients are not losing any….and you’ll often find me checking meal trays- looking for what was eaten (if anything) and what’s left over. More often then not, patients are at risk for weight loss and malnutrition.
With diseases, sickness, and aging comes lack of appetite. Lack of appetite can also be caused by medication side effects, chemotherapy and radiation, changes in taste, decreased ability to taste, decreased energy exertion, and extreme fatigue.
In hospitals and other healthcare settings, the first plan of action is to start giving pre-packaged nutritional supplements (Boost and Ensure). Doctors are quick to order these supplements even for people who have good appetites, but are post-op and need “extra protein”.
In long-term care, my patients are more likely to opt for homemade milkshakes, fortified puddings, and cream-based soups. Being elderly, let alone any medications or sickness, is a risk in itself for malnutrition. As you age your tastebuds die and your sensation of thirst diminishes. Along with that, many people may have difficulty self-feeding and are often t0o embarrassed to ask for help.
Care taker and family members can plan an important role in the nutrition of their loved one. A little good rapport and love can go a long way- as YOU are more likely able to feed your loved one without them feeling embarrassed. As well you can provide meals, snacks, and drinks that can provide good nutrition. Let’s face it- hospital food, Boost, and Ensure- are not appealing to everyone.
Thankfully, there are healthier and tastier options besides store-bought nutrition supplement drinks and hospital food. I would like to share some of these ideas and recipes with you. Please keep checking back, because I’ll be updating this periodically. If you have a recipe you’d like to contribute, please email me and I can include it here!
Pumpkin Milk Shake
1/2 c Unsweetened Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 C Whole fat yogurt
1/2c Whole Milk
Blend all ingredients in a blender, season to taste with pumpkin pie spice. Pour and serve.
*Use sweetened/spiced Pumpkin Pie filling instead if you’d like- then just skip the extra spice and maple syrup ingredients.
*If you are looking for extra nutrition/protein without the extra calories use lowfat yogurt and milk.
*For those who cannot tolerate dairy, try using a milk alternative (almond milk, coconut milk) and coconut milk yogurt.
Fortified Creamy Tomato Soup
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can-full of whole milk
Cook soup. Serve with saltine crackers spread with cream cheese, or serve with a dollop of sour cream.
Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
2-3 tablespoons Peanut Butter
1 cup whole milk
1 frozen banana
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
Blend all ingredients in a blender. Pour and serve.
For extra protein content, 2-3 tablespoons dried powdered milk. For chocolate lovers, drizzle with chocolate sauce.
Loaded Mashed Potatoes
Enough potatoes to make 1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 c whole milk
1/4 c sour cream
Add salt, pepper, or chives to season. Mash together and serve
Additional ways to add calories, vitamins, and protein to food:
Ice cream and sherbert- add to shakes and smoothies
Salad dressing- try adding Ranch dressing to mashed potatoes.
Butter- add butter to almost anything.
Nut butters- add to toast, shakes, smoothies, oatmeal, or serve on apples or crackers as snack.
Cheese- sliced, melted, shredded- can be added to meats, soups, veggies, or served alone as a snack.
Whole milk yogurt- serve alone or add in to shakes, smoothies, or parfaits.
Protein powders- try a whey or pea-based protein powder. You can get unflavored which can be added into hot cereals, mashed potatoes, shakes, smoothies, and creamy soups.