Eight Ways to Gain Healthy Weight
Those who struggle to keep their weight down probably think it would be great to trade places with someone who has to struggle to put on extra pounds. But underweight people often have just as much difficulty achieving their goals as those who are trying to lose. And, many suffer similar issues with body image, and often feel as if all they do is think about food.
In order for or an underweight person to gain a pound in a week's time, they have to consume an extra 500 calories every day and many just simply find that hard to do. So the process is likely to be slow, and patience is definitely a virtue.
Many years ago, dietitians encouraged people to up their calories in any way possible so calorie-dense foods like butter, cream, and desserts figured prominently in the diet. Knowing what we know now about the downside of eating all that fat and sugar, it's a little more challenging to increase calories without relying on these former 'go to' foods that packed a lot of calories, but very little nutrition.
An emphasis on healthy, but calorie-dense foods is key. So is increasing the number of times you eat each day. Here are some ways you can increase calories, but keep it healthy:
- The highest calorie cereals are dense and heavy – if the box feels heavy when you pick it up, you're on the right track. Choose low fat granolas, and cereals with nuts, seeds or dried fruits. Increase the calories in hot cereals by cooking in milk or soy milk, and then stir in nut butter, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or mashed banana.
Dried fruits, and 100 percent fruit juices and applesauce have more calories per cup than fresh whole fruit, and dense whole fruits like banana or papaya have more calories per bite than watery fruits like melons. Use dried fruits in cereals and trail mix and use fruit juice as a beverage or in your smoothies.
If fluids fill you up too much, have them in between meals, rather than with food.
Toss salads with a healthy olive-oil vinaigrette, and add nuts, seeds, cooked dried beans, avocado, grated low fat cheese and olives to salads and drizzle a little heart-healthy olive oil on your steamed veggies after cooking.
Starchy vegetables like peas, sweet potatoes and corn have more calories per cup than others, so include these along with the lower calorie veggies and salads that should also be part of your healthy diet. Other healthy starches include whole grain pasta and brown rice and choose heavy, dense breads for sandwiches and toast.
Protein is important, but keep your sources lean and increase the portion size, rather than relying on less-healthy fatty meats, sausages and lunch meats.
Healthy desserts like low fat pudding, bran muffins, banana bread or low fat yogurt are good options. Try stewing dried fruits with a little citrus juice and cinnamon as a dessert – either plain or on top of yogurt.
Healthy snacking is key to increasing your calorie intake for the day, so plan snacks between meals and at bedtime, with the goal of eating six times a day. If you're one of those people who can go a long time without eating, you might need to set a timer to remind yourself to eat. A protein shake, a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit, nuts or trail mix, a sandwich, or a whole grain bagel with low fat cheese are all great snack options.
Susan Bowerman is a paid consultant to Herbalife.