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

Industry News & Opinion

Foodservice operators and other employers in New York City are adjusting to a new law that enforces paid time off for staff who have been the victims of certain crimes.

Called paid safe leave, the benefit is believed to be among the first of its kind in the nation. A more limited version has been in effect in Minneapolis since last summer.

The New York law applies to employees who have been the victims of actual or threatened domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking or human trafficking.

Workers can also opt for safe paid leave if a member of their...

Industry News & Opinion

A Massachusetts bill to end lunch shaming has been stalled in the House, reports South Coast Today.

The House chair of the Education Committee voted on Tuesday for further study of the bill, which would prevent schools from throwing away hot lunches and/or serving an alternative meal to students behind on lunch payments. Under the bill, schools would also be unable to bar students with unpaid balances from participating in extracurricular activities.

Additionally, the bill asks schools to take action in reducing families’ meal debt by helping families apply for free or...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of California, Santa Cruz is converting its Cowell Coffee Shop into a “multi-service basic needs cafe” to aid students facing food insecurity .

The new cafe is being created through a partnership with dining services, the school’s center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and UCSC’s Cowell College. Due to open at the start of the fall semester, the lower part of the cafe will continue to be a study space for students (with free coffee and tea) and will also host nutrition and financial wellness programming.

Upstairs, the kitchen will be used as a...

Managing Your Business
quitting job

What prompts foodservice managers to clean out their offices and head out with a last paycheck? A new survey suggests the triggers may be changing with the times.

The canvass of 2,000 restaurant professionals, conducted by placement firm Gecko Hospitality, shows lifestyle issues abounding among the top 10 reasons for parting with a restaurant employer last year.

Here are the gender-specific lists:

Top 10 reasons female managers leave

1. Better opportunity

2. Unemployed

3. Relocation

4. Not satisfied

5. No growth

6. Long...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code