Whether you are slim or bigger (even if you are seemingly overweight, you can still be malnourished), it’s not good to lose weight without meaning to. It’s easy for weight to drop off without noticing. Significant, unintended weight loss makes you more likely to get ill or have a fall and can slow down your recovery from illness or surgery.
Whilst some signs may be obvious, others may not be as noticeable:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you noticed that you have lost weight?
- Have you dropped a dress size or do your clothes feel looser?
- Have you had to tighten your belt buckle an extra notch?
- Is your jewellery slipping off?
- Do you feel lethargic or more tired?
- Is planning, cooking and shopping becoming more of an effort?
- Are you finding it difficult to manage a tight budget?
- Have your dentures become loose?
- Has your appetite got smaller?
- Is chewing difficult?
- Is swallowing difficult?
- Do you cough and splutter when eating?
- Are you catching more colds or infections and find it takes longer than usual to feel better?
- Do you feel cold and can’t get warm?
- Do you feel dizzy sometimes?
- Have you noticed changes in your mood?
- Are you feeling down?
- Have you changed or been prescribed new medicines?
If you recognise these signs, it is time to take action. These can all be signs of unhealthy weight loss and that we might be at risk of becoming undernourished.
Keeping an eye on yourself
There are several easy to use self-screening tools that can be used to identify if you are at risk of becoming undernourished. These can be completed by yourself or with a carer, friend or family member.
The BAPEN online self-screening tool
This simple, three-step online tool can identify if you are at risk of undernutrition. You just need to know your weight, height and weight a few months ago. You can complete it here: https://www.malnutritionselfscreening.org/self-screening.html
The Nutrition Wheel
The Nutrition Wheel is an interactive tool that asks questions about your weight, eating and others signs that you might be at risk of undernutrition. It can be completed by yourself or with a friend or family member. We can send you a copy of the Nutrition Wheel. Contact us to request a copy.
The Patients Association Nutrition Checklist
Like the Nutrition Wheel, this checklist takes you through several questions to detect the signs that you may be at risk of undernutrition. You can download the checklist on the Patient’s Association website: https://www.patients-association.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=0526b920-8a1f-4505-b00e-1c8a59280d6a
These tools can be useful to understand if you might be at risk of undernutrition, and to give tips and ideas about why you might be losing weight or have a small appetite. This does not replace seeing a GP and if you’re worried about weight loss or other health concerns, it’s very important that you seek advice from your GP or Practice Nurse. Perhaps ask a friend, relative or carer to go with you.