Are you getting the right amount of nutrition? What is Malnutrition or Under Nutrition?

Chart of Five steps to healthy eating

Are you getting the right amount of nutrition? What is Malnutrition or Under Nutrition?

Malnutrition is defined as an imbalance between what an individual eats and what he/she should actually need to have in order to maintain proper health. As the person grows older, the risk of malnutrition increases. Malnutrition affects almost 1 in 3 adults who are admitted to hospitals. Thus, it is important to screen for malnutrition. 

There are a number of reasons which explains why people become malnourished: 

  • Difficulty in eating and swallowing because of ill-fitting dentures or illness.
  • Inability to absorb nutrients (malabsorption) may be because of nausea and vomiting or diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Environment is not comfortable.
  • Sometimes loss of taste occurs as you grow older; making eating less pleasurable. 
  • Requirement for some nutrients has increased. 

Consequences of malnutrition:

  • Weight loss, muscle wasting, weakness; lethargy and sluggishness, apathy and depression 
  • Dentures may not fit
  • Vitamin deficiency and impaired immune function- likely to reduce wound healing
  • Impaired respiratory/cardiac function and mobility; may further lead to a risk of complications.

How to treat malnutrition: 

Initially start taking food as per requirements. Usually on taking regular meals, one would gain weight and strength. If you fail to gain weight or the appetite is poor, food and beverages can be fortified, thus providing more calories. Eggs, butter or ghee can be added to dals, khichdi; full fat milk can be used instead of skimmed milk. Nutritional supplements can be taken, as this is the last option, real food must be the preferred option. 

Practical tips: 

  • Suitable cutlery, plates, katori, cups (maybe easy to use two handled mug), with comfortable seating arrangement. 
  • Take good care of oral hygiene/dentition.

Easy ways to gain weight: 

For half kg weight gain per week, one needs an extra 500kcal a day.

Approx. 100kcal provided by 1 parantha/ 150mls of full fat milk, 30g of cheese, 1 katori of cooked dal, 2 teaspoon ghee/oil


Energy Dense Snack Ideas: 

Sevian upma/ sweet milk dalia 250 kcal
Mango/ Banana  milkshake 225-250 kcal
Besan suji cheela-2 225-250 kcal
2slice bread  with1tsp butter and jam        225-240 kcal
2 vegetable cutlet 250-300 kcal
Kheer/halwa-1 bowl 300+kcal


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