Navigating high energy, high protein (HEHP) diets this Easter
What is a high energy, high protein diet or HEHP?
It is a type of diet designed to minimise weight loss, help with gain weight in underweight individuals, maintain muscle mass and/or minimise the risk of malnutrition. Energy refers to the kilojoules or calories in our food and drink. Some foods have more energy than others. The amount of energy available depends on the nutrients it comes from – either fat, protein or carbohydrates.
Protein is essential for growth, maintenance and repair of tissues in the body including our muscles. It can also be used as an energy source. Food that are high in protein include meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy/alternatives (cheese, milk, yoghurt), beans/legumes, nuts/seeds and tofu/tempeh.
HEHP diets aim to deliver as many kilojoules and nutrients as possible in minimum volumes. It is highly beneficial for those suffering from early satiety, fatigue and/or a low appetite whereby they do not need to consume large meals.
Why HEHP is important in aged care and older populations
HEHP diets are commonly used within the aged care setting due to the high prevalence of malnutrition, unintended weight loss, wounds, pressure injuries and/or loss of appetite. HEHP diets are designed generally to be used in the short term and therefore will not give rise to chronic conditions. However, when used long term, malnutrition can be more important to prevent than a chronic disease, which is likely to have already developed.
For the elderly living at home, daily tasks such as cooking, shopping and eating are often not prioritised and/or can become difficult, leading to an increased risk of malnutrition. If your loved ones are showing signs of muscle/fat wasting, a HEHP diet may be considered.
Small frequent meals – try having 6 small meals per day or eating every two to three hours
Eat the protein part of your meal first to ensure the most important part is eaten before you feel too full
Fortify your foods by adding extra energy and protein to make the most of each mouthful – see ideas below
Replace tea, coffee or water with milk/alternative or juice-based drinks. When appetite is poor it is often easier to drink your nutrition
Eat according to your tastes/preferences at any time of the day. There are no rules around when to eat certain foods, for example, having an omelette for dinner
Enjoy meals with family or friends
Tips to get the most out of your meal
Choose full cream milk/alternatives
Enrich your milk by adding milk powder
Add cream, honey, nuts/seeds, dried fruit
Add ice cream, yoghurt
Add honey, maple syrup
Eggs (cooked to preference)
Add cheese, chopped bacon
Add milk powder
Choose nourishing fillings (tuna & mayonnaise, chicken & cheese, egg, tofu & salad)
Add a thick spread of butter/margarine, avocado
Choose creamed, meat or bean varieties
Add cheese, sour cream, Greek yoghurt, milk powder
Include egg, meat, falafel, cheese or tuna/salmon
Add oily or creamy dressings e.g. French, Caesar
Add quinoa, chickpeas, brown rice or pasta
Add avocado, nuts/seeds, olives
Roast meats, vegetable bakes
Add white sauces, gravies
Prepare with extra oil
Melt cheese on vegetables
Yoghurt/custard with tinned fruit
Choose full cream varieties
Try higher protein options e.g. YoPro or Chobani Fit
Desserts e.g. creamed rice, ice cream, cakes
Add flavouring of choice e.g. milo, chocolate/strawberry/caramel syrup, crushed nuts
Top cakes with cream, ice cream or custard
Choose full cream milk/alternatives
Add milk powder
Add extra scoops of milo or chocolate powder
HEHP ideas this Easter
BREAKFAST: Pancakes with maple syrup and ice-cream
MORNING TEA: Easter Devilled Eggs or boiled eggs (paint these for some Easter fun) or a chocolate Easter Egg Hunt
LUNCH: Roast with Gravy, Cheesy Potato Bake & Roast Vegetables
AFTERNOON TEA: Cheese Platter: variety of cheese, crackers, dried fruit
DINNER: Easter Pie with Silver beet and Ricotta or an Chicken & Mushroom Casserole
DESSERT: Chocolate brownies with custard or ice-cream
SUPPER: Hot Cross Bun with Butter and a Cup of Milo
On the surface, HEHP diets can be seen as ‘unhealthy’ and are often criticised by those who do not understand malnutrition, aged care and hospitals thoroughly. HEHP diets are generally not recommended for healthy individuals, however, when there is a high risk of malnutrition, HEHP can be the best option. A food first approach is the best first step. Oral nutrition supplements (ONS) may be considered after a food first approach has been trialled if the individual is continuing to lose weight.
It’s always best to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for personalised support. With our 16 qualified Dietitians across Australia, OSCAR Care Group are able to provide expert Dietetic advice in line with the latest evidence-based practice. Either on a regular basis within your Aged care facility or for elderly people living at home through our OSCAR Care Clinic.
By Dana Coleman, Accredited Practising Dietitian for OSCAR Care Group
Are you Interested in a HEHP Recipe book for your facility?
OSCAR Care Group will be releasing a HEHP Recipe Book soon, click here to express your interest and be notified upon it's release.