It is known that people who are underweight are more likely to contract diseases, and are often feeling tired and cold. However, gaining weight can be as difficult as losing weight for some people.
Why can’t it be as simple as eating more fatty and sugary food? It is because for various reasons of being underweight, many are unable to eat enough, not to mention about eating more fatty and sugary food which normally further suppresses the appetite for this group of people. Therefore, the quality of food is as important as the quantity of food.
To gain weight, firstly you need to identify the reasons why you are not gaining weight and why you are losing weight. There are a few possible reasons:
- Disease related: such as cancer, AIDS, poor digestion and absorption, oral sensitivity, food allergies and food intolerance.
- Inadequate food intake, due to poor appetite, poor dentition, lacking food preparation skills and food knowledge.
- Unbalanced diet causing malnutrition.
- Excessive energy expenditure.
Secondly, you will need to have your energy/nutritional requirements and intakes assessed to find out what extra food/nutrients you need to improve your weight and health status.
The following dietary strategies will then help you to gain weight for better health and well-being:
- Increase the calorie and nutrient density of the food you eat and the fluid you drink by adding appropriate energy/protein supplement.
- Avoid food and fluid with a low calorie content.
- Eat enough calorie to compensate for the energy you burn as well as eat extra calorie for a planned weight gain (e.g. aim for 400kcal/day extra for a weight gain of about 1 pound of weight gain per week or 20kcal/day extra for 1 pound of weight gain per fortnight).
- Choose easy to digest high protein food, such as tofu, eggs and fish.
- Avoid very high fibre food to reduce satiety and improve appetite.
- Modify food texture (such as liquidizing food or choosing only soft food) to ease chewing and swallowing.
- Avoid eating food that cause any undesirable side effects like flatulence, bloating, acid reflux, or migraine.
For personalised dietary strategies and meal plans, please contact your dietitian for a thorough nutritional assessment first!