Bridging the nutrition gap in healthcare

Fortified food products are a lifeline for patients whose diets need a boost

From Blue Bunny.

A good appetite is something we may take for granted. However, people who are ill, recovering from injury or surgery, elderly or depressed may be unable or unwilling to eat enough for proper nourishment. Helping them obtain the calories, protein, vitamins and minerals they need is a major challenge for registered dietitians in healthcare.

While serving a good, balanced meal is the ideal, provided a patient is willing and able to eat it, in some cases a nutritionally fortified food product may better meet the individual’s immediate needs, dietitians say.

“If I can get a person to eat a plate of watermelon, blueberries, salmon and brown rice, then absolutely I am going for the real food first,” says Roberta Anding, RD, a registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “But if a person can’t or won’t eat because they don’t feel good or are in too much pain, I have to come up with Plan B or Plan C to make sure that person’s nutritional needs are met.”

In her more than 30 years in clinical dietetics, Anding says that she has at times used fortified juices and soft drinks for supplemental feeding. Such products are part of a growing array of enhanced foods for the healthcare segment. They may be used if a person has difficulty eating because of a broken jaw, has greater nutritional needs because they are recovering from surgery, burns or wounds, is losing a significant amount of weight involuntarily or has lost appetite due to dementia or the effects of multiple medications. For cancer patients, chemotherapy and radiation also may put a damper on appetite.

“To me, this is where nutritionally fortified foods can fill a gap,” says Anding.

It is especially important for elderly people to maintain their appetite, because involuntary weight loss in this age group can augur serious health issues, Anding says.

That’s why staff members at Maria-Joseph Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Dayton, Ohio, watch residents carefully for diminished appetite. “The longer it slips, the harder it is to get it turned around,” says Suzanne Cryst, RD, CSG, LD, director of nutrition services.

Serving a fortified food like nutrient-supplemented ice cream can reawaken interest in eating among those who have lost it, Cryst says.

“You look for things that tempt them,” says Cryst. “Ice cream is a comfort food. It doesn’t look like it is enhanced or has more calories. I don’t want to say it’s a fooler, but you don’t have to tell them what’s in it.”
Although it is common for dietary departments to fortify their own foods by blending in protein powder and other supplements, having a prepackaged fortified product like an ice cream cup also can come in handy.

“It is convenient, easy to serve and don’t look manipulated,” says Cryst. “It looks and tastes normal. And it makes the patient feel ‘I am normal. I am not different.’”

Blue Bunny NUTRIplus™ Supplemental Ice Cream is real ice cream loaded with nutrients to supplement diets that may need a boost. Serve it directly from the freezer (no waiting) or at room temperature. These nourishing treats come in Vanilla Cup, Cherry Chocolate Cup and Orange Creme Cup flavors.  For more information, visit www.bluebunny.com/foodservice or call 800-807-8221.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
vegetables with dip foodservice healthy menu

From Mrs. Dash Foodservice.

There was a time when healthy food meant counting calories, omitting carbs, giving up sugar and going fat-free—in other words, it was all about deprivation.

But not anymore. Today’s definition of healthy means an overall focus on nutrition and wellness that doesn’t mean giving up enjoyment. It’s all about balance: good fats, healthy carbs, better sweeteners, wholesome ingredients and satisfying flavor enhancements. It means food that customers can feel good about, at the same time that they’re enjoying the dining experience.

According to...

Industry News & Opinion

Aramark today announced a partnership with celebrity chef and TV personality Cat Cora that will put a new concept from the Top Chef star in Aramark’s North American business-and-industry accounts.

The new fast-casual concept, called Olilo by Cat Cora, promises a healthy, made-your-way menu, according to the global foodservice provider.

“By bringing together Chef Cora's award-winning brand and healthy cooking advocacy and Aramark's commitment to enriching and nourishing the lives of the thousands of consumers we serve every day, we have an opportunity to elevate the on-site...

Industry News & Opinion

Members of Congress and several advocacy groups gathered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to highlight the potential loss of millions in state funding because of a Child Nutrition Reauthorization block grant introduced last month, and to call upon legislators to squash the bill.

The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 houses a statute that would provide three unannounced pilot states with block grant funding. Participating states would be exempt from federal nutrition regulations and would no longer qualify for the 6-cent reimbursement per lunch garnered by certified...

Ideas and Innovation
peppers jars

While it only serves 200 students and staff daily, the Muse School in Calabasas, Calif. , has a need for fresh produce that’s much larger than the typical K-12 school. The private institution serves entirely vegan fare, menuing 1,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables per week.

“Despite the large amount of produce we use, the great majority is consumed, and there’s little spoilage,” says Kayla Webb, executive chef. “We barely throw away any produce.”

The Muse School has strict policies in place—outside food is banned, for example, to cut down on waste. But even if an operation...

FSD Resources