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Diets to *gain* weight?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Jenny, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    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.
  2. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow Dancing

    Jenny and (deleted member) like this.
  3. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    That looks really good, thanks! I'll pass it on. Hopefully others have ideas or tips too.
  4. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    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.
  5. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    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.
  6. loulou

    loulou Let It Snow

    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.
  7. AliasJohnDoe

    AliasJohnDoe Headcase Addict

    Tip: Medical marijuana is legal in some states to promote "weight gain" in some cases.
  8. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    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.
  9. loulou

    loulou Let It Snow

    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.
  10. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

    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!
  12. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    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.

    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.

  13. birdgal

    birdgal New Member

    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.
  14. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    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.
  15. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

    Does the brand of margarine she's using contain trans fats?? Most do, and talk about clogging arteries with unnecessary fats! I know you know a lot about nutrition, so I would assume you've already checked that, but I just want to double check in case it slipped your mind.
  17. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    She's all doctored up, has a bunch of them, done all the tests and procedures, gone to the big specialists in the big hospitals. The issue I think is that many people - of all ages - think that doctors exist to keep them healthy, which is not the case. Doctors are experts in diagnosis and dealing with issues, but they are not usually nutritionists, and spend little time on prevention. I spent some time working with a major hospital CEO and her words stayed with me: you're in charge of your health - we're just here to help when something goes wrong.

    These are good tips - and I can certainly provide recipes!

    As for Boost - she eats margarine after all, and loves Cool Whip on desserts. :scream::scream::scream:

    Good idea - not sure, but I think they do smoothies for breakfast sometimes. Will ask. They might not follow these recipes, but a list of high cal ingredients might help.

    Plus I don't know any old person who isn't interested in cancer prevention :)

    They use whatever brand is on sale. :yikes:
  18. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

    Oh gosh. Did you tell her that trans fats will clog up her arteries and cause bad cholesterol faster than just about anything?? Print out documentation! Trans fats are so super scary.
  19. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    They know that - and I think most margarines eliminated them long ago, so it's possible they've stopped reading the labels. I also have to wonder what *decades* of eating margarine before anybody knew what trans fats were did to her and millions of other people. I will add it to my list of things to discuss next time I see them or correspond by email.
  20. znachki

    znachki Active Member

    When my dad needed to gain weight after surgery - followed by shingles, the doctor had him supplement with Ensure.
  21. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    After seeing my very-rich college roommate down 20 pills a day of various vitamins since her nutritionist told her to, I'm not sure if I trust nutritionists either. :shuffle: Although I'm sure there are good ones out there, but nutritionists aren't necessarily better than doctors.

    There's also a lot of things that simply go wrong and there's nothing we can really do about it. We can only make do. If she's having trouble absorbing nutrients, there has to be a diet change.

    Well, I'm not sure that list of high cal ingredients is necessarily good at preventing cancer - it's just that you don't want chemo patients to suffer from malnutrition instead!

    Since my mom can't eat raw vegetables in their natural state, she got herself a Vitamix blender so she can have a bunch of them at once in a breakfast smoothie. Still not very high-calorie and she still doesn't eat enough, but at least they could get their fill of veggies and fruit all at once and then eat other things during the day. And you could always add protein shake mix to that. I sometimes have trouble digesting dairy and fats myself, but protein has never been a problem. When I was recovering from stomach flu, the only things I COULD eat were apples and sushi. :lol:
  22. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member


    Margarine and imitation-butter spreads like I Can't Believe It's Not Butter are still made with polyunsaturated fats, and those are most definitely a major health risk; it sounds like your relative believed the lies that saturated fats are the cause of health problems - they are not. Real butter is far healthier than the fake stuff.

    And I posted plenty of documentation over in the Paula Deen thread that attests to that fact.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  23. galaxygirl

    galaxygirl Rain City Bitch Pigeon

    Has she been tested for celiac disease? That was the first thing I thought when you mentioned that she's not absorbing nutrients. It damages the small intestine making nutrient absorption difficult. It can also remain latent until it's triggered by a health stressor.
  24. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Most of the diet shakes I've used to LOSE weight have suggested drinking them along with your normal diet to gain weight. Makes sense, it's an extra 200 calories per meal, and good nutrients.

    I really liked Body by Vi (especially blended with fruit) but they were expensive.
    I like Slim Fast Chocolate quite a bit, but don't care for their French Vanilla, too sweet. DH likes it though.
  25. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Good thought. Several other family members have this, so she knows about it, but might not have thought about it for herself.
  26. KatieC

    KatieC So peaceful

    We used to give my Mum Boost and Ensure to keep her weight up. But I always threw them in the blender with some milk and ice cream before I gave them to her. Made a nice mid afternoon shake and far better tasting than the supplement alone.
  27. myhoneyhoney

    myhoneyhoney Well-Known Member

    How about taking a weight gainer protein shake such as this. A lot of bodybuilders drink these shakes to gain muscle and little fat. The fat and cholesterol % is fairly low considering how much protein is in each serving.
  28. Prancer

    Prancer Strong and stable Staff Member

    How is she at taking in fluids?

    There are a ton of calories in things like sports drinks; a lot of smoothies are full of calories, too, and there are always milkshakes. You can make all of those both nutritious and full of calories, especially the smoothies. If she could do a lot of sipping all day, she could take in a lot of extra calories without thinking it's an extra meal (maybe).

    She might absorb the nutrients better, too.
  29. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    More great ideas - thanks everyone! The liquids/sipping idea is good - she has a Boost every day, but otherwise I think it's the usual coffee in the morning/tea rest of the day habit. I definitely have to find out if they have a blender.