Nutrition Tips

How to Gain Weight after Illness

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"How to Gain Weight after Illness"
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There are good ways and bad ways to lose weight, and losing weight through serious illness has to be top of the bad ways. After any illness, you need to build up your strength again and get back to fighting fitness, but what you don't want to do is gain weight in a way that could further compromise your health. Here's how to gain weight healthily after a serious illness.

Eat more calories

This is pretty obvious - you need to eat less calories to lose weight, so it follows that you must eat more calories to gain weight. However, not all calories are equal, and getting extra calories from fats, sugars and alcohol could lead to more health problems than you're already contending with. Get your extra calories from protein sources, so that you're getting nutrients as well as calories.

Add powdered, skimmed milk to soups, casseroles, yogurt and milk drinks, thus adding calories and extra protein. Adding cheese or cream to soups, sandwiches and salads will achieve the same result. Or beef up mashed potatoes with grated cheese or beaten eggs. All that extra calcium and protein is good for your bones, muscles and teeth, which may have suffered as a result of your illness.

Add healthy oils such as olive oil or flaxseed oil to casseroles, salad dressings and soups, or drizzle on bread. Don't be tempted to spread butter thickly on your bread - it's saturated fat, and too much of it is bad for your heart.

Drink more calories

Drink fruit juices and milk, rather than diet drinks and water. However, don't drink regular soda, as it's loaded with sugar. And it's probably best to avoid alcohol, particularly if you're on medication. If you're not on medication and your doctor is happy about it, a small alcoholic drink before your meal may stimulate your appetite so you eat more at the table.

Snack a little

If your appetite is still not back to normal, you may find it easier to have smaller meals and take snacks in between. The emphasis should be on healthy snacks such as dried fruit and nuts, or a peanut butter sandwich. Avoid snacks that are high in sugar and fat.

Boost your calories with fruit and vegetables

Instead of opting for fruit and vegetables with a high water content and low calorie count, add some high calorie fruit and vegetables such as bananas, pineapples, raisins, avocadoes, peas, parsnips, potatoes and sweetcorn. This will add both calories and nutrients to your diet, but resist the temptation to fry vegetables - that just adds unhealthy amounts of fat with the calories.

Exercise more

Do strength and stamina increasing exercises to build up lean muscle mass. It takes more calories to keep a muscular body going, so your appetite should increase as you build muscle. Take professional advice so you don't overdo things - you've just been ill, after all.

Approach gaining weight in the same way as you'd approach losing weight - in the healthiest way possible. Then you can be sure of a speedy recovery from your illness. Good luck!

More about this author: Sandra Piddock

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