Q: I realize most people are trying to lose weight when they come to see you, but what about those trying to gain weight?
A: Great question , and you are right, outside of a hospital facility it is not as common for a dietitian to help someone gain weight, but it is a health concern for some people and I’m glad you brought it up. My suggestions vary from person to person but overall the goal is to make the meals and snacks you do eat more calorie dense without adding bulk. This is best done using fat. Fat has more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates and is a tasty and healthy way to increase the calorie content of food. I would start by throwing away all the low fat stuff you use. Use real mayo, real sour cream, real salad dressing, etc. Start adding butter to your meals. I really like to use an unsalted grass fed butter. Switch to whole milk and real cream, it works well to add these whole fat dairy options to oatmeal or to use them in coffee. Try making a smoothie with some coconut oil , hemp or flax seeds, and some fruit. Add in some whole milk yogurt or kefir for added calories and a dose of probiotics. Drizzle olive oil on your salads, even eat some olives for a snack. If you like cheese add this to your eggs in the morning, no need to settle for the partial skim milk cheese sticks anymore, go for that sharp cheddar you like next time you have crackers and cheese. If it’s a whole food, real fat, then it’s ok to add it. Avoid adding trans fats or using candy and sweets to gain weight. This may help pack on the pounds but it won’t help your health.
Again, this is not a typical issue in the American diet and is very individualized. If you are trying to gain weight I would encourage you to come see me or another dietitian to help set up a plan that works for you based on the foods you like, the foods you tolerate and your schedule.
As a dietitian I often get asked "What do you eat?" My clients either think I am purchasing super expensive green powders and strange smoothie add-ins OR they think I secretly eat the foods I tell them to avoid yet somehow miraculously I don't suffer any adverse effects.
I love when they get to know me better and can understand that what I eat isn't complicated, its just simple, whole, real foods. I love it even more when these same clients start to understand that they too can eat in this simplified way and probably save a little money as well.
A typical trip to the co-op or grocery store for me involves about 30 minutes in the produce aisle and about 5 minutes everywhere else. I shop by season and price as much as possible. I love Harmony in Bemidji because it tells you where the food is coming from. This is important for managing our carbon foot prints and its healthy and helpful to buy local. I buy as little as I can in packages and try my hardest to be creative in my meal options. Food waste is also always on my mind when I shop. Even if a giant bag of pears (one of my favs) is on sale, I won't buy it if there is the slightest chance that we may not have time to eat them all, use them in a soup, or if I won't have time to preserve the extra in some way. I try to only buy foods in bulk that last a long time and can be frozen, cooked down to soup or roasted if they start to lose their appeal.
I try to cook with different foods as often as possible to help expand my families taste palate. But if Im short on time while shopping or the selections are slim I tend to shop the staple items and usually fall back on one of two of my staple meal creations. first choice is always veggie tacos, this is a family favorite and super fast. Basically any veggies are chopped and sautéed and then eaten in a wrap. In fact this is a great way to use up food scraps and reduce food waste. We even sometimes pull out random items from the fridge such as sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and pickles to put on top. The next fall back meal is roasted roots and a mung beans or a meat if we are so inclined. Although this one is easy, the cook time is a bit longer. Same principle applies. Chop the food, throw it on a pan, roast it in the oven, cook the meat or beans however we want and dinner is served!
The most important thing to remember in meal planning, shopping or cooking is veggies first! Now go out there and get cooking! And yes, that is a glass of wine in the image :)
A: That's a great question and the answer will vary slightly based on where you meal will take place. If you are hosting the meal then its an easy fix to create vegetable side dishes that are lower in carb. Skinnytaste.com has some great options. Or it can be as simple as including a veggie tray and/or a meat and cheese tray with your meal. Squash is an option as a lower carb vegetable so long as its free of added sugars. If you are going somewhere else see if you can find out what the meal will be, if there are no low carb options request to bring a side dish to share. Regardless of the location of the meal and whether or not you have control of the food choices, you definitely have control of your portions. So go ahead and try everything if you must, just be sure to reduce your portion size of the carb heavy items and load up on things like turkey and green veggies. And also be sure to take your medications. Don't lie to yourself about the carb count or neglect to test your blood sugar, its important on these days to be aware of whats going on so if you are on insulin you can dose accordingly. Last tip, get active. Go for a walk, play an active game with family, start decorating the house for Christmas. Just add some activity to help utilize all that extra energy you ate. And don't forget to enjoy the time with family and friends! Happy Thanksgiving!