Losing weight

Have you lost weight unintentionally?

If someone’s appetite has decreased or they have been losing weight for other reasons there are simple things that can be done to try and increase the calorie content of the food. It is recommended that people with diabetes try to limit the amount of high sugar foods they consume, choosing slower release carbohydrates instead.

Little and often

  • Eating smaller meals and snacks, and nourishing drinks in between meals may be more manageable.
  • Try having drinks separately from meals, as these can fill you up.
  • Try having a pudding once or twice a day such as full cream yogurt, ice cream, cake or custard.
  • Snacks in between meals can help to boost your intake.
  • Thickening powder can be used to make a soaking solution to produce soft and puree consistency snacks. Custard, cream or gravy can also be used to soften snacks.
Enriching your food

  • Choose full fat/cream foods with sugar rather than low fat /low sugar types e.g. full cream yogurts, full cream milk.
  • Add cheese to soups, mashed potatoes, vegetables or pasta dishes.
  • Use butter in sandwiches, on potatoes and with crackers or vegetables.
  • Add cream or condensed milk to puddings and jam/honey to porridge or cereals.
  • Use cooking methods that include the addition of oil e.g. shallow fry, roast or grill but coat or spray the food with oil first.
Nourishing drinks

  • To make fortified milk add four tablespoons of milk powder to one pint of full fat milk. This can be used throughout the day in drinks, on cereals and in sauces.
  • Using milk (including fortified milk) to make the drinks is also a good idea. These include hot chocolate, milkshakes or smoothies.
  • Powdered supplements such as Complan and Meritene energis are available from most supermarkets and pharmacies and can be used between meals.
Other useful tips

  • Try not to miss or skip meals.
  • Ready meals (frozen or tinned) are a good, easy to prepare option. Consider adding some frozen vegetables to make a more balanced meal.
  • If preparing food is too much, consider meal delivery services or ask friends and family for help in shopping, preparing and cooking meals.
  • If food choice and quantity is limited, take a one-a-day complete multivitamin and mineral supplement

Courtesy of BAPEN.

Nutritional supplements

If food fortification has not helped, the next step is to usually start nutritional supplements in addition to usual meals and snacks. There are some that can be purchased over the counter (most chemists/pharmacists will stock these).

Dependent on why the supplements are required, some can be prescribed by a patient’s doctor. There are lots of different types and brands available.

For health professionals – if you have seen someone who you feel may benefit from nutritional supplements, there is guidance produced by the ICS on first line supplements to be prescribed. To find out more, please see their website.