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Jenny
02-08-2012, 07:20 PM
I'm hoping the good folks of FSU might point me in the right direction.

An older family member who has a bunch of medical issues has lost significant weight in the past few months, and can't seem to gain it back, or when she puts on a few pounds, she loses them again quickly. My worry is that she needs the weight to fight off her other issues - heart, digestive and stress related - and that her medical doctors don't know enough about nutrition to really help. She's always been thin, so losing even a bit of weight puts her on the brink of seriously underweight and unhealthy.

Apparently part of the issue is that she is not absorbing nutrients - food goes right through her without doing much good. Because of her heart issues, she worries about cholesterol and artery clogging fats, so she sticks to low fat foods and margarine, which to me lack in nutrient value. She does eat a lot of veggies and fruit, not too much meat, loves pasta, likely not enough whole grains. At her doctor's recommendation, she drinks a Boost every day.

Anyone know of a diet that works? Some tips? An online resource of some kind?

Every time I try to search, of course there's tons on *losing* weight, and when you finally find something about gaining weight, it's usually directed at body builders and recommending big tubs of protein supplement.

purple skates
02-08-2012, 07:24 PM
The Daily Plate has an option for gaining weight. I use it for weight loss and find it is a great (and free) tool.

http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/

Jenny
02-08-2012, 07:31 PM
The Daily Plate has an option for gaining weight. I use it for weight loss and find it is a great (and free) tool.

http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/

That looks really good, thanks! I'll pass it on. Hopefully others have ideas or tips too.

Aceon6
02-08-2012, 07:47 PM
This is one of the hidden problems of aging. Folks lose their appetites or adhere too strictly to dietary guidelines for their conditions. I used to work with a gerontologist who told male patients over 75 and females over 80 to just eat what they liked, in whatever quantity they like, as after those ages, diet doesn't make much of a difference in longevity. He also recommended having food ready as his patients would lose interest in the course of preparing a meal. Another thing was making sure his patients stayed well hydrated with water and juice throughout the day.

If she likes pastas, I'd suggest whole wheat with low fat cheese and whatever other fixings she prefers. She might like quinoa, which is a good source of protein. Nuts are a good option if she's a "graze" type eater. Small snack sandwiches on good bread might be another option... make a whole sandwich and cut it into quarters. That way, she might have a little bite more frequently.

Jenny
02-08-2012, 08:04 PM
Thanks for your insights Aceon. She's not a grazer - definitely of the old school sit down meals at certain times of day. But I do think that frequent smaller meals are the way to go not to stress her system, but to keep it coming. She's not big on cooking, so the idea of making things that last several meals could help - like a bigger sandwich divided, or a quinoa salad.

Her husband, who does his best, perhaps needs to be more assertive about this too - he does all the shopping, and he makes lunch every day, while she makes dinner. But he's not online (she is), so maybe I can print up a few things to give to him next time I see him. He's in better shape, but a few pounds wouldn't kill him either, so no worries about different dietery needs thank goodness.

loulou
02-08-2012, 08:09 PM
Dry fruits has tons of calories that shouldn't hurt the heart.

If you could have her eat dates, dried figs, dry apricots, almonds and nuts, at least a couple of times in between meals, that should translate into healthy weight gain.

I would ditch the margarine, and recommend olive oil (not cooked) to dress just about anything, from pasta to veggies.
A great snack would be a bread slice with oilve oil pured over, and some tomato. Sort of bruschetta-like, without the toasting part. That's also caloric and heallthy, as long as the bread doesn't already have fats in it.

If she like pasta, fruit and veggies, add steamed fish, some eggs and some steamed chicken and she won't be suffering because of her diet.

I would worry that she isn't absorbing nutritions, and isn't keeping her weight: I'd look deeper into her general health condition.
Any sort of inflammatory bowel desease could result into poor nutioning absobtion. A thyroid condition can be caused by stress and result in stress, weight loss, heart conditions (!) and also poor nutritioning absorbtion.

AliasJohnDoe
02-08-2012, 08:21 PM
Tip: Medical marijuana is legal in some states to promote "weight gain" in some cases.

Jenny
02-08-2012, 08:22 PM
Any sort of inflammatory bowel desease could result into poor nutioning absobtion. A thyroid condition can be caused by stress and result in stress, weight loss, heart conditions (!) and also poor nutritioning absorbtion.

I didn't want to get into all that but yeah, that's definitely an issue. It's what seems to have brought the weight loss on, and layered on top of existing heart and stress issues, it's all come together.

I really wish they'd ditch the margarine too - you just can't convince them that it's not real food. It's a big tub of chemicals! But they're so convinced that even a tsp of butter will kill them, so frustrating. They do like olive oil though, so that's something.

Dried fruit is an excellent idea, thanks.

loulou
02-08-2012, 08:39 PM
I didn't want to get into all that but yeah, that's definitely an issue. It's what seems to have brought the weight loss on, and layered on top of existing heart and stress issues, it's all come together.


I'm sorry to hear that. You should know though, that nothing will be truely able to help her unless you resolve the condition (I'm not asking which of the two I mentioned is the case, but they're both serious).


-- If thyroid is the case, keep in mind this: laboratory range are meant to represent the norm of the human population, not individuals. It's very important that you find the individual set value in the lab range. You'll know it because symptoms will go away once you're there. - Not all doctors mention this, even though it's well know in medicine.

Ziggy
02-08-2012, 08:45 PM
Anja Rubik recommended to stop excercising and eat a lot of bananas and avocados to gain weight. :P

Apparently that's how she gained weight for Victoria's Secret last runway show, going from skeletal to emaciated.

mag
02-08-2012, 08:48 PM
Avocados are a great source of nutrients and have more calories than some other fruits.
Kiwi fruit, not high in calories but a really good source of many nutrients.
Costco makes a great Quinoa salad that could be kept in the fridge and doesn't require any preparation.
What about a smoothie with breakfast? Perhaps with some full fat yogurt, frozen fruit, banana, and a little protein powder?

... don't know how she can drink boost. That stuff is vile (IMHO)

Good luck!

Anita18
02-08-2012, 08:51 PM
This is one of the hidden problems of aging. Folks lose their appetites or adhere too strictly to dietary guidelines for their conditions. I used to work with a gerontologist who told male patients over 75 and females over 80 to just eat what they liked, in whatever quantity they like, as after those ages, diet doesn't make much of a difference in longevity. He also recommended having food ready as his patients would lose interest in the course of preparing a meal. Another thing was making sure his patients stayed well hydrated with water and juice throughout the day.

If she likes pastas, I'd suggest whole wheat with low fat cheese and whatever other fixings she prefers. She might like quinoa, which is a good source of protein. Nuts are a good option if she's a "graze" type eater. Small snack sandwiches on good bread might be another option... make a whole sandwich and cut it into quarters. That way, she might have a little bite more frequently.
My mom's not that old yet but already seeing some digestive issues. She won't do any raw veggies anymore and nuts can sometimes be trouble. If that's the case, steam the veggies and go nutty for nut butters!

But for my parents (and myself), a big part of it is simply not eating enough. :shuffle: They're barely in their 60s but their doctor is already scolding them for being so thin at that age. My mom's already on medication for osteoporosis. :( That's absolutely a danger for someone who's underweight.


I would worry that she isn't absorbing nutritions, and isn't keeping her weight: I'd look deeper into her general health condition.
That's my main concern too, especially if she's "trying" to gain weight but it's still coming off.

The most important thing now is to get her to eat easily-absorbed foods. IIRC raw vegetables isn't a part of that. You should obviously eat some, but the human digestive system doesn't handle cellulose very well and you lose most of what you eat out the other end. :shuffle: So a salad-heavy diet is obviously no good for someone aiming to gain weight.

When I was trying to gain weight myself, I found high-calorie shake recipes for cancer patients. It makes sense, since cancer patients often have a hard time digesting food while undergoing chemo. You could give that a try.

http://www.caring4cancer.com/go/cancer/nutrition/during-treatment-recipes

birdgal
02-08-2012, 08:52 PM
Peanut butter or any of the nut butters would be good for gaining weight and they have healthy fats. Peanut butter was orginally discovered or made by George Washington Carver as a food to help the elderly to gain and/or keep weight on.

Nothing wrong with a protein shake for additional protein. The whey protein is absorbed very well by the body. Not just for body builders. Adding fruit, yogurt, etc can boost the calories and nutritional value.

Aceon6
02-08-2012, 08:52 PM
I didn't want to get into all that but yeah, that's definitely an issue.

If there's an issue, she may already know some of her triggers. One of the most common triggers is eating something with fat or lactose on a nearly empty stomach. Many people do best if they introduce milk or fat after they've eaten grain. You might want to have her try whole grain toast with jam as the first meal and see if that makes it easier to eat other things later.

Anita18
02-08-2012, 08:53 PM
Anja Rubik recommended to stop excercising and eat a lot of bananas and avocados to gain weight. :P

Apparently that's how she gained weight for Victoria's Secret last runway show, going from skeletal to emaciated.
Funny, the only way I can gain weight is by exercising - lifting weights. :lol: Fat does not stay on me, I have no idea where it goes. It really has to be muscle mass.

Speaking of which, muscle mass isn't a bad idea for an older person either.