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Food fortification

 

There are many situations where getting more “bang for your buck” from food can be important. Food fortification (FF); in technical terms, is defined as “the process of adding nutrients to food”, but in practical terms means boosting the nutrients in a meal so that you get more out of every bite, leading to health benefits. This can be from adding macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fats) or micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

So, when is it important to fortify your food? There are plenty of occasions where this can be required, whether a person has Coeliac Disease or not. This may be due to illness, difficulties eating, or increased energy or nutrient needs to name a few. Think of the below examples:

  • Miss A (3Y) has not been growing very much over the last couple of the months. She is quite a fussy eater and the doctor thinks this is the cause of her slow growth rate.
  • Why FF? If Miss A is only eating small amounts, it is important she gets a lot out of every mouthful to allow her to continue growing and developing well.
  • Mr B (10Y) has been unwell for several weeks. He has been experiencing a lot of nausea and this has caused a reduction in appetite and food intake, and his mum is worried he looks a bit thin.
  • Why FF? It is normal to lose your appetite when you’re feeling unwell, however if normal food intake is reduced for a long period of time this can start to affect weight. It is important Mr B is getting some good energy, protein and vitamins to maintain his weight, continue growing and fight this illness.
  • Mr C (18Y) has been restricted to soft texture food for a couple of months after a broken jaw.
  • Why FF? An 18-year-old boy will have very high energy and protein needs, as this is needed for growing bones and muscles. Being limited to soft foods will be another factor making it tricky to meet his energy and protein needs.
  • Mrs D (30Y) is pregnant expecting her first child, and knows that she has increased nutrient requirements to support the growth and development of her baby.
  • Why FF? Pregnancy increases nutrient requirements such as energy, protein, iron and folate for the development of a healthy baby.
  • Mr E (25Y) is trying to gain muscle mass for the rugby season.
  • Why FF? Mr E will need to be eating more food than he is burning (“calorie surplus”) if he wants to put on muscle mass, so adding extra protein into his meals and snacks will be important.
  • Mrs F (75Y) isn’t as hungry as she used to be, and finds she only eats half the portions she used to have at meal times.
  • Why FF? Malnutrition is a serious concern will older adults, especially if they are struggling to maintain normal intake of food. Mrs F may benefit from meals and snacks with extra energy and protein.

With each of these scenarios, food fortification may help to increase or maintain body weight, to improve immunity or enhance overall health and wellbeing.

It is important we eat enough nutrients so that we are healthy, able to grow, recover, repair and thrive. The additional challenge of having Coeliac Disease is that we need to careful that what “fortify” our diet with is gluten-free friendly. When food is restricted, like in the above examples, it does not matter whether it is due to an allergy, intolerance, illness, injury or by choice, as any of these situations can put a person at risk of nutrient deficiencies.

If you are someone who needs an extra boost of nutrients in your diet, here are some tips on how to get the most out of every (gluten free) bite:

Smoothies:

Smoothies can be a great meal or snack leading into the summer months, however the one downside is they can sometimes not be very filling. But they can be!

  • Add a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds, peanut butter or LSA
  • Try adding avocado to increase the healthy fats. This will make the smoothie extra creamy and you can’t taste it!
  • Add a handful of spinach to give a vitamin boost
  • Make sure to use a nutritious liquid such as full fat dairy milk, soy milk or coconut milk
  • Add a scoop of gluten free protein powder (see note below)

Note on protein powders:

Protein powders can be quite a controversial topic. My stance on it is that firstly, you rarely NEED a protein powder. We can get sufficient protein from our foods. However, it can be convenient way to increase the energy and protein in your diet, particularly in scenarios where liquid foods are easier than solids. The major downside is the cost, as protein powders can be quite expensive. If this is an issue, milk powder can work just as well. Make sure to always check the label to make sure it is gluten free.

Nutritious snacks:

The inclusion of nutrient dense snacks is important when boosting the overall energy or protein content of your diet. This can be particularly important if you have a reduced appetite and cannot eat large portions at meal times, so “small and often” can be a better way to go.

  • Bliss balls; either buy (look for the cross-grain logo to ensure they are GF and do not have oats) or make your own. Making your own can be a great way to tailor to your tastes and add in lots of boosters, such as nut butter, dried fruit of choice and nuts. This recipe is my personal favourite, with good protein from the almonds and chia seeds. If you have protein powder, you could add a tablespoon of that too.
  • Energy Balls (makes 15-20)
  • -2 cups medjool dates (or prunes)
  • -1 cup almonds (or whichever nuts you prefer)
  • -2 tablespoons nut butter (I like peanut or almond)
  • -2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • -2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • -Blend ingredients together and roll into balls. Keep in the fridge so you can snack whenever you need an energy boost!
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  • Gluten free toast with “energy booster” toppings; try peanut butter and banana, GF hummus and tomato, avocado and boiled egg or ham and melted cheese
  • Veggie sticks with a nutritious dip such as hummus or guacamole
  • Cheese and GF crackers
  • Yoghurt cups; I like to mix natural yoghurt with my own nuts, seeds and fruit
  • Homemade GF baking; one of my current favourites is Nadia Lim’s Banana Bread

Savoury meals:

Lunch and dinners are often savoury meals, and this can be a great time to sneak in some extra nutrients and calories. Think of it as getting the most out of every mouthful. This is particularly important for people who have a reduced appetite, and may not be able to eat normal portions to meet their nutrient requirements.

  • Drizzle oil over roast vegetables, salads or meats
  • Mash potatoes with butter and cream
  • Add oil and cream to soups
  • Melt cheese over vegetables
  • Ensure salads have healthy fats by adding sliced avocado, roasted nuts and a spoonful of hummus
  • Have a glass of milk with meals

 

Take home tips for food fortification:

  • 1.Eating small and often can be useful
  • 2.Smoothies can be a great way to get an energy and protein hit, either as a meal or snack
  • 3.Adding dairy products (if tolerated) such as milk, cream and cheese can be a great way to boost energy and protein
  • 4.Add healthy fats to meals, with oils, avocado, and nut butters