It’s not a problem that occurs or is talked about very often in the U.S., but some people do need to gain weight for their health.
An estimated 1.5% of us are underweight, which can be related to malnutrition, eating disorders or certain illnesses or medications. Worldwide the percentage is considerably higher, around 8%, but it’s still lower than the percentage of people estimated to be obese.
The risks of weighing too little, usually defined as having a BMI under 18.5, include nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, weakened immune system and lower fertility.
There are methods for you to pack on some pounds in a way that won’t give you a whole new batch of health hazards to worry about. Sometimes it’s just doing the opposite of what you do to lose weight, although not always:
This isn’t a free pass to eat whatever you want. You should stick mostly to the same types of foods experts generally recommend for any healthy eating plan, like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, lean proteins and some dairy products.
EAT MORE FREQUENTLY
People who are underweight often feel full faster and have a difficult time consuming three large meals a day, so adding smaller, healthy meals or snacks to your schedule can be effective for promoting weight gain.
DRINK SOME OF YOUR MEALS
Drinking water or soda before meals can in some cases blunt your appetite for food, so splurge instead on healthy smoothies or shakes with milk and frozen fruits and veggies. Add chia seeds or flaxseed when you can for a calorie- dense source of omega-3s protein and minerals.
DON’T FILL UP ON EMPTY CALORIES
Make sure you’re eating a varied, nutritious diet. Snack on nuts mixed with dried fruit and consider a bedtime snack of nuts and dried fruit or a whole- wheat wrap with hummus, chopped vegetables and a slice or two of chicken.
TREAT YOURSELF OCCASIONALLY
See above; a slice of cake is OK occasionally but steer clear of excess sugar and fat in favor of fiber, minerals and vitamins.