For people who have always wanted to add a little weight, gaining does not come in a flash. You ought to be patient and take one step at a time, according to Dr Paul Kasenene, a nutritionist at Wellcare Centre, Kampala.
Gaining weight is, however, limited to people with diabetes, high blood pressure and those who are above 40 years of age. If you are not under this limitation, there are some steps that you can follow in order to gain good weight.
Before choosing to add more weight, it is important that you see your doctor because you may just have an underlying health problem. Conditions such as stress, sickle cell disease and anorexia nervosa can inhibit one from gaining weight.
Dr Henry Ssekyanzi, a general practitioner at Mulago hospital, advises people to have a regular eating schedule, with six meals. “Do not let four hours go by without eating. When you skip meals, you deprive your body of the fuel it needs to keep going. The best way to prevent your body from losing any important tissue is to eat regular meals,” he says.
He, however, warns people to avoid taking a lot of sugary foods such as alcohol, sodas to get fat but rather to get enough energy to support the proper functioning of body organs.
Ssekyanzi adds: “Limit the amount of food you eat before going to bed because the body requires a lot of energy during day, to break it down. Eating food at night will make you wake up very tired in the morning.”
He says it is important to choose nutrient-rich foods such as whole grain bread, pasta, cereals, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, lean protein sources, nuts and seeds.
He says: “Eat a balanced diet or you will suffer deficiency in some nutrients that are essential to the body. People who are struggling with weight gain usually suffer from some kind of food intolerance or are usually picky eaters. Try to have a variety of food at the different intervals as only one type of food may be boring.”
Plant food sources are usually more recommended and these include fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, seeds and nuts. These can be supplemented with animal food sources but eaten in moderation.
Instead of eating empty calories contained in junk food, Dr Kasenene recommends foods rich in nutrients. “Consider high-protein foods which help build muscles, nutritious carbohydrates and more healthy calories. Starchy vegetables have more calories than other vegetables. Although you may not take in the required calories at first, eat three meals a day and snack in between and after dinner,” says Dr Kasenene.
He adds: “Do not eat and sleep immediately as this makes you feel stuffed through the night. The food may not be digested, leading to digestive problems. Some of this food will be converted into fat, which is unhealthy.” Kasenene says healing, repair and regeneration take place when we are sleeping. Having a healthy snack before bed ensures supply of nutrients.
In an effort to monitor what you eat, Dr Kasenene advises people to cook their own meals and preferably boil the food instead of buying the already cooked or packed food.
He says: “Make your own salad dressing with healthy oils whenever you can than buying ready-made products from supermarkets or take-away, to ensure safety.”
If you are struggling with a poor appetite due to medical or emotional issues, you may find it hard to take in large amounts of food at a go. It is, therefore, advisable that you take in smaller, but more frequent meals throughout the day, to increase your calorie intake to help you gain more weight.