In a world obsessed with being slim, there is an increased emphasis on reducing bulging waistlines and bringing down the digits on the bathroom scale. And although a lot of people suffer from being overweight, the flipside is that for many being too thin is a problem too. Because being too thin is just as unhealthy, especially if being underweight is due to under eating.
This is mainly because a diet with too few calories may not supply the essential nutrients you would need to keep your body functioning normally. Additionally, a reduced food intake may cause fatigue, irritability, lack of concentration and increases the risk of infections.
All these reasons make it very important to maintain a healthy balance by gaining weight gradually and consistently. The key to doing this is consuming more calories than your body burns!
Detailed below are a few simple tips on how you can do that:
1. Follow the guidelines of the Food Guide Pyramid
Make sure you eat from all the food groups (variety) to obtain all the nutrients needed, i.e., bread and cereals, vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy products, meat and legumes (beans, lentils), and some healthy fats.
2. Choose nutrient-rich foods with concentrated calories
- Enrich your glass of milk with extra spoons of milk powder
- Eat more starches like potatoes, pasta and rice.
- Garnish salads with olives, avocados, and cheese, to get more healthy calories
3. Eat more frequently
Eat five or six smaller meals instead of three bigger ones during the day. Always start your day with balanced breakfast (at least have a glass of milk with cereal and a banana or a glass of milk, cheese sandwich and a piece of fruit).
4. Drink fluids 30 minutes before and after meals and not with meals in order not to fill your stomach with fluids and eat less.
5. Focus on nutrient-rich beverages
Rather than plain water, drink fresh juice, milk, or milk shakes. As a woman, make sure you are having 2-3 glasses of milk daily (or equivalent in dairy products) in order to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis later on in life.
6. Stimulate your appetite if you just don’t feel like eating
People lose their appetite for all kinds of reasons like illnesses, pain, fatigue, depression, stress, medication, diseases or a combination of these. Try this to stimulate your appetite and make eating more appealing:
- Add more appeal to food with more colour, more texture, more aroma in your meals
- Stay away from unpleasant topics of conversation at mealtimes, especially if stress is a problem for you.
- Fit in physical activity as it builds muscles and stimulates appetite. You can take a walk before mealtimes.
- Slow down while eating. If rushing reduces your appetite, plan stressful activities away from mealtime
- Eat with friends
7. Enjoy a snack before bedtime
Healthy snacks that provides extra energy are: Dried fruits (such as apricots and dates), milk or fruit yoghurt with cereals, pudding (such as mouhallabiah or rice pudding), mixed fruit cocktails with added ingredients such as milk, avocado, dates and honey, sandwiches (with cheese, labneh, jam or peanut butter), all sorts of nuts (to give you extra energy and added minerals) and fresh juices.
Eat by the clock rather than by hunger
Besides following all these tips, one of the main ways to control your weight is by maintaining a strict timing for your meals. Don’t wait till you’re hungry, eat at predefined times instead. This will ensure that your bodily functions fall into a proper routine allowing you to experience a healthy weight gain that will have a positive effect on your health and your appearance!