Most people don’t start reading Summer Tomato with a desire to gain weight, but I’ve been surprised to receive more than a few emails over the past few years that read something like this:
“Thanks so much for all your work on Summer Tomato. I’ve been following your advice for about a year and absolutely love my new healthstyle. I’m exploring foods I never knew existed, and feel absolutely great. My only question is, what if I want to stop losing weight or even gain a few pounds? I hardly noticed that I’ve slipped below my ideal weight, and a few friends and family members have mentioned that I was looking especially thin. Is there a way I can put on some healthy weight without resorting to eating unhealthy foods?”
Certainly most people do not have this problem, and it may seem like a dream to those who have been struggling with weight all their lives. But being underweight is no more desirable than being overweight—it is not attractive and can be unhealthy if not monitored carefully.
The question is, how do you gain weight without eating unhealthy foods?
It may seem obvious, but the truth remains that if you’re underweight you need to make a concerted effort to eat more. Your food choices need not be unhealthy, you can put on weight eating anything so long as you eat enough.
The secret is to focus on foods that have a lot of calories. While most junk foods certainly qualify, a few healthy foods fit the bill as well. Foods high in protein and fat are your best options, and can generally be added to your diet easily without having to take in a much larger volume of food.
Meats, fish, eggs, oils and nuts are a great place to start. They are very calorie dense, and can be easily added to almost any meal. You can also focus on oil and protein rich vegetables such as avocados, coconut, legumes, olives and seeds.
Nut butters and spreads can be a particularly rich source of healthy calories, just be sure to buy the natural versions without added sugar. Tahini is a delicious, oily paste made of roasted sesame seeds that is wonderful drizzled over vegetables like broccoli and kale.
Cheeses and other full fat dairy products can also be a nutrient dense source of calories, though be careful to not overdo your dairy consumption, particularly if you’re a male.
Also remember that there’s room for occasional indulgences in any healthstyle. If you’ve been saintly in denying yourself bread, sugar and other delicious treats and then find yourself a tad underweight, it may be time to loosen up a little.
What do you eat to gain weight?
Originally published May 16, 2011.