Why is it all about being overweight? What about weight gain?
Google ‘weight gain’ and the only thing that comes up is information and ads on how to lose weight, but what about the people who are trying to gain weight? Why is it all about being overweight?
Recently I have seen quite a few patients who are attempting to put on extra Kilos, either after illness or due to the fact they no longer have a period, have a lowered immune system and little resilience.
All my life I have been what is medically classed as underweight. Some people claim that that is not fair especially if they have been struggling to lose weight, but it can also be difficult being too skinny.
I blame my genes. My mother and father were both slim, as are my siblings. We had a fantastic diet as kids, no processed food, no cordials or soft drinks and very few lollies. My dad grew a lot of fresh vegetables and as both my parents were brought up overseas we had a mix of Indian and Malaysian food. Our diet was considered exotic by our friends (this was conservative Northern Ireland which was meat and two veg territory).
Okay I admit I was fussy as a small child, but I believe this was more about me asserting myself as I was the youngest girl in the family. I remember sitting at the dinner table until it was dark as my dad had professed ‘you are not leaving the table until you have eaten everything on your plate.’ Both my parents were children during the war and hated waste.
Even then I was not a fan of red meat and as soon as I could, I became a vegetarian for a few years, during my rebellious stage. As a teenager my dad used to buy me 4 bottles of Guinness a week “to build me up” but as you do I saved them for a Friday night! They were still using in hospitals at that stage, to support recovery from illness, I’m sure they still do!
As a self-conscious teenager I was very embarrassed about being too skinny, and as kids do I was occasionally taunted with “you look like a Cambodian refugee” which inspired me to wear 2 pairs of woolly tights to school in the winter so that my legs didn’t look so skinny!!
So what are the predisposing factors for being under weight?
- Not eating enough, malnutrition
- Over exercising
- Hyperthyroidim or another underlying medical condition
- Recent illness
The medical model classes underweight as a BMI of less than 18.5 and the definition of a healthy weight is believed to be “maximally healthful for a person based on height but modified by factors such as gender, age, build and degree of muscular development”.
Another factor determining weight loss/gain is the absorptive capability of the gut, which declines with age. Food allergies or inflammatory intestinal conditions can also interfere with optimal nutrient absorption as can chronic parasite infections.
Malabsorption can often be deducted from running simple blood tests such as Iron, B vitamins, Zinc, fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin D and essential fatty acids.
Exercise has a critical role in healthy weight gain, therefore the right type of exercise is crucial. Long distance running results in weight loss, particularly muscle tissue from the upper body to support excessive energy output, whereas strength training with weights incites muscle growth.
So how to approach healthy weight gain?
- Eat every 3- 4 hours. Don’t skip any meals or substitute snacks for coffee.
- Have a variety of snacks on hand. Fruit and nuts, rice crackers with nut butters, vegetable juice with plant based protein powder, hummus and veggie sticks.
- Concentrate on nutrient dense food, the opposite of junk food.
- Have a snack in the evening.
- Have a good breakfast. Add an extra egg to your omelet plus vegetables, add chopped nuts and berries to your chia pudding or pot set yoghurt (Jalna Or Mundella)
- Don’t drink fluids with meals as this fills you up.
- Give up smoking as cigarettes curb appetite.
- Soft drinks and lollies can also reduce appetite especially for fussy kids who no longer want to eat a decent meal.
- Have a weekly cook up. Healthy snacks that you can store, pop into lunch boxes and take to work. There are thousands of healthy recipes out there – Sarah Wilson has brought out a new book after the success of “I quit sugar” called “ “Simplicious” which has some great ideas.
- Make sure your proteins are from grass fed sources, both red meat and if possible organic poultry.
- Add healthy fats to your diet, with nuts, olive oil (Virgin cold pressed), organic coconut oil, if eating dairy have full fat.
- Fish sources oily is best, try to incorporate seafood/fish at least twice a week.
- Choose easily assimilated grains, such as millet, buckwheat, and quinoa.
- Rather than eating more food during meal times which will your digestive abilities under pressure the old adage “ little and often” is much better tolerated.
BANANA NUT BITES
RIPE large banana
2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean powder or extract
40g poppy seeds (1/4 cup)
4og chopped seeds or nuts ( such as, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, variety of nuts)
40g desiccated coconut (1/2 cup)
40g linseeds (1/4 cup)
40g coconut oil (1/4 cup)
30g rice malt syrup or maple syrup (2 tbsp).
- Line a tray with parchment paper and a little coconut oil.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Blend your banana to a puree.
- Blend everything else except the chopped seeds and nuts for 15 seconds on high. Ideally you want to break up your seeds a bit so they gel up with the moisture of the bananas and bind the bites together.
- Add your chopped seeds and nuts and blend for 3-4 seconds just to combine them.
- Spread to about 8cm thick on the parchment paper
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven power.
My mother always told me when I was younger and complained about being so skinny, “you will be grateful one day” which at the time you can’t comprehend but she was right!
I no longer feel compelled to wear layers of clothes in order to hide my frame, or offer to eat the cakes and doughnuts that my friends bought to school!!
If you are struggling to gain wait and would like some support, call the clinic on 9339 1999 and make an appointment with NatMed Naturopath Jacky Dixon.