Nourished Living by Dietician Kelly Hamlin MA, RD, CDN

Mission to gain weight troublesome for some

As a rule, we have a tendency to focus on individuals who need or want to lose weight. But this week I would like to go in the other direction and discuss ways to help those who either want to maintain or gain weight.

There are many reasons why people might be underweight. For some, it may just be genetics. But for others it may be a side effect of medications, or due to a chronic illness.

Often, people undergoing treatment for cancer have difficulty maintaining their weight.

Some of the reasons are nausea due to the side effects of treatment, difficulty chewing and swallowing, loss of appetite, issues involving the gastrointestinal tract or just the fact that eating—and cooking—is exhausting.

You may think I’m nuts for saying that eating is exhausting.

But think about when you yourself have been under the weather with a cold.

Nothing tastes good, it’s hard to eat with a stuffed up nose, etc.

Well, that is nothing compared to what those people undergoing cancer treatment go through.

If you are having trouble putting on weight, here are some tips to help add calories to your diet:

• Add olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, or soft margarine spreads to your foods

• Spread peanut butter on toast, muffins, crackers, waffles, pancakes, and fruit slices

• Make your own fruit smoothies with fruit, low-fat vanilla yogurt, 2% milk, and protein powder

• Drink Carnation Instant Breakfast®

• Prepare pasta, rice, vegetables, meat loaf, potatoes, and casseroles with shredded low-fat cheese

• Mix cottage cheese or plain yogurt with canned fruit

• Try adding cottage cheese or ricotta cheese to casseroles and egg dishes

• Stir nonfat dried-milk powder into soups, milk, casseroles, and hot cereals, adding the powder into foods before heating to avoid the clumping that occurs when stirred into foods that are already heated

• Drink fruit juices

• Put avocado and olives on your sandwiches

• Mix cooked or canned beans or peas into casseroles, rice dishes, pasta, or salad

• Sprinkle seeds or wheat germ on fruit, vegetables, salads, ice cream, pudding, custard, cereal, or yogurt, or add to a muffin mix, pancake batter, waffle batter, or bread dough

•Include dry fruits in muffins, cookies, breads, cakes, grain dishes, cereals, puddings, and cooked vegetables, such as carrots or sweet potatoes

• Substitute milk for water in recipes, whenever possible

• Snack on a mix of dry cereal, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and a few chocolate chips

• Mix 1 cup dried milk with your 1 quart milk to make a “fortified milk”. This is great because it’s higher in protein too. This fortified milk can be used as a drink or used to make a “fortified pudding.”

There is an excellent book out called, “Pass the Calories, Please!” by Gail Farmer, MS, RD.

It reviews issues such as loss of appetite (which is also called anorexia), taste fatigue, sore/dry mouth/throat, nausea, etc.

It also includes some great high calorie recipes.

There are commercial supplements, such as Ensure or Boost, but they can be costly.

The recipes in this book are much more economical.

However, if a commercial supplement is easier for you, check out the generic brands.

Also, compare the nutritional components of a “meal supplement” shake with those of a “meal replacement” shake such as Slim Fast.

No, I have not lost my mind. When my late husband was going through chemo, I did a comparison and found that the “replacement” and the “supplement” were nutritionally similar.

The difference is in the way they are marketed.

Those of us who battle with our weight often poke fun at people who can eat anything and not gain an ounce.

But we all need to be careful with our comments as the “skinny” person may be fighting a chronic illness, or worse.

For those of you battling an illness, life threatening or otherwise, my prayers for strength and hope go out to you all.

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