Nutrition is critical to health and well-being – particularly concerning patients receiving medical care. Unfortunately, imbalanced nutrition remains an ongoing challenge for many today, with poor diet choices resulting in a lack of essential vitamins and minerals needed to maintain good health. As nurses, we can have an impactful role in promoting the importance of balanced diets through dietary guidance, instruction on proper food selection techniques, and creating personalized care plans tailored to each individual’s needs.
In this blog post, we will discuss the concept of imbalanced nutrition nursing diagnoses & provide practical approaches for creating care plans, which include simple strategies that can be used to help address issues related to imbalanced nutrition so that patients receive optimal therapeutic outcomes.
Table of Contents
What is Nutrition Imbalance?
Nutritional imbalance occurs when a person’s diet lacks all the essential nutrients for good health. This can be caused by inadequate intake, food allergies or intolerances, eating disorders, or medical conditions such as diabetes. An imbalanced diet may lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, which can cause physical symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, poor complexion, and weakened bones.
In today’s fast-paced world, it is often challenging to maintain a well-balanced diet as we indulge in processed and junk foods, which contain high amounts of sugar and unhealthful fats that can lead to weight gain and diabetes. So, it is essential to know about it, keep reading.
The pathophysiology of nutritional imbalances is complex and involves multiple body systems. Imbalances in the diet can lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, fat, and carbohydrates. These deficiencies can cause symptoms ranging from fatigue and digestive issues to more severe conditions such as anemia or osteoporosis. Additionally, certain diseases or conditions may increase the body’s need for certain nutrients or interfere with absorption.
When left untreated, nutritional imbalances can lead to serious health complications. For example, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can increase the risk of infection, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and other chronic illnesses.
Additionally, deficiencies in certain nutrients may contribute to decreased immunity, making patients more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses.
With the right care plan, nurses can help patients improve their nutrition and achieve positive outcomes. Expected patient outcomes from nutritional interventions may include:
- Improved nutrient intake
- Enhanced immunity
- Increased energy levels
- Improved physical and mental wellbeing
- Reduced risk of infection and chronic illness
Nursing Care Plan For Nutrition Imbalance
Nurses must comprehensively assess the patient’s medical history and current dietary habits to create an effective care plan for imbalanced nutrition. This should include the following:
1. Determine accurate, exact body weight for age and height. Do not estimate
An anthropometric assessment’s first and vital step is accurately measuring the patient’s body weight. It is important to note any sudden or drastic changes in weight, as this may indicate an underlying health issue.
2. Determine the patient’s height
Height is used to assess a patient’s BMI accurately. Height should be measured on flat surfaces and recorded in centimeters, feet, and inches.
3. Assess the patient’s body mass index (BMI)
The patient’s BMI should be calculated using their height and weight measurements. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, while a BMI of 25 or higher indicates overweight or obesity.
Calculating for the BMI:
BMI = (Weight in kilograms / Height in meters²)
4. Assess dietary patterns
Dietary assessments should include a detailed review of the patient’s current eating habits, including how often they eat, what types of food they consume, and when. Nurses should also assess for potential barriers to adequate nutrition, such as financial constraints, food allergies, or a lack of access to healthy foods.
5. Assess the patient’s nutritional risk using nutritional risk screening tools
Nutritional risk screening tools help identify patients at an increased risk of malnutrition. These tools assess age, BMI, weight loss, laboratory values, and other factors.
6. Assess the patient’s nutritional status
Nutritional status assessments should include reviewing laboratory values, physical signs and symptoms, and evaluating the patient’s dietary habits.
7. Assess the patient’s food choices by taking a nutritional history with the participation of significant others
Nutritional histories should involve reviewing the patient’s food preferences, likes and dislikes, and any nutrient intake issues they may have had.
Imbalanced Nutrition Nursing Diagnosis
The American Nurses Association defines a nursing diagnosis as “a clinical judgment about individual, family, or community experiences/responses to actual or potential health problems/life processes.” As such, a nutrition-imbalanced nursing diagnosis can identify patients suffering from poor dietary practices and create a care plan to address their nutrition-related needs.
The following are some common nursing diagnoses of nutrition imbalance are:
• Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements – This diagnosis is used when the patient’s caloric intake does not meet their recommended daily requirements, resulting in inadequate nutrient intake.
• Imbalanced Nutrition: More Than Body Requirements – This diagnosis is used when the patient’s caloric intake exceeds recommended daily requirements, leading to excessive nutrient intake.
• Risk for Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements – This diagnosis indicates that the patient is at risk of inadequate nutrient intake due to their current dietary practices.
• Risk for Imbalanced Nutrition: More Than Body Requirements – This diagnosis indicates that the patient is at risk of excessive nutrient intake due to their current dietary practices.
Nursing Interventions for Imbalanced Nutrition
Nurses play a vital role in helping patients understand the significance of a balanced diet and proper nutrition. The following are some suggested nursing interventions for malnutrition:
1. Discuss with MD the potential need for referral to a dietitian
As a nurse, it is crucial to use the right resources. The dietitian can appropriately evaluate the patient and individualize the patient’s plan of care regarding nutrition.
2. Educate the patient about diet and nutrition
This includes helping the patient understand healthy eating, how to properly portion meals, and tips for incorporating more nutritious options into their daily routine.
3. Monitor and document the patient’s vital signs and food intake
Vital signs indicate how the body functions, which can help monitor the patient’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
4 Monitor for signs and symptoms of malnutrition, such as:
- electrolyte imbalances
- low immunity
- muscle weakness or loss of appetite.
Early identification of these signs and symptoms can allow early intervention and treatment.
5. Encourage the patient to drink fluids, as dehydration is one of the most common causes of malnutrition
Drinking enough fluids helps the body to remain hydrated and absorb nutrients from food more effectively.
6. As appropriate, Provide nutritional supplements or vitamins per MD orders
Specialized nutrition products can help provide extra vitamins and minerals when needed.
- Reinforce the importance of a balanced diet
- with adequate amounts of protein
- and fats to maintain health
- acceptable energy levels for daily activities.
Encouraging patients to eat properly balanced meals can help ensure they get all the nutrients their body needs without overindulging.
7. Incorporate rest periods into the patient’s care plan, as adequate rest is necessary for proper nutrition and digestion
Proper sleep helps to maintain energy levels and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food effectively. Adequate rest also allows for improved mental health and overall well-being.
By implementing these nursing interventions, nurses can effectively address imbalanced nutrition in their patients and encourage healthier dietary practices. Furthermore, this will help ensure patients receive all the essential vitamins and minerals for optimum health.
Nutrition is an essential part of overall health and well-being. Nurses should be aware of the risk factors for malnutrition and incorporate assessment and interventions into their practice to promote optimal nutrition in their patients.
Incorporating these nursing interventions into patient care can help ensure patients receive all the nutrients needed for proper health, energy levels, and improved overall well-being.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.