When I decided to finally recover from a lifelong battle with multiple eating disorders that led me to become deathly underweight, I was forced to learn ways to gain weight. Many people told me I could just “go eat a cheeseburger and drink a milkshake.” Well sure, that would have worked, but was that really teaching someone that already had a problem eating healthy and balanced anyway? No! Especially a nutrition major who was entirely picky about what she put in her body. Plus, I knew there had to be a healthier way. Many people found it ironic that I became so ill with an education in nutrition. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t know what to eat. In fact, I almost knew too much about nutrition, so much so that I made it a point to consume foods I knew wouldn’t put weight on, and consumed a caloric amount to reflect that, all out of stress and sadness from several life crises. So, when I decided to recover, I knew what healthy foods could keep me looking healthy, and still help me gain weight. If you’re looking to gain weight without wrecking your metabolism and turning to junk food, just try my favorite healthy and very effective ways to gain weight. They worked for me and in the course of a year, I gained enough weight to reach my goal weight. Plus, my skin has never looked better and my hair has never grown so fast. Try to do at least 5 of these per day for the best benefits. Enjoy, look lovely, and eat up!
1. Eat Salmon
Salmon’s healthy fats make it one of the best ways to gain weight the right way. Salmon is often touted as a weight loss food, but if you’re underweight and not eating meat, it can actually help you gain weight. Salmon contains essential proteins that the muscles need to flourish and rebuild. Plus, the healthy fats promote weight gain, brain health and heart health. They also promote anti-inflammatory benefits, which a malnourished or underweight body needs to gain weight the right way, and prevent cell damage.
2. Eat Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are so wonderful for you and they keep you lovely! I ate a sweet potato every single day for seven months when gaining weight, in a variety of different ways. I used them just about any way you can think of and loved enjoying the taste in the meantime. Because they are a source of concentrated carbs, they help someone underweight gain weight in a healthy way. They are different from white potatoes though, because they have a lower glycemic index that won’t cause you to crave sugar or suffer from a carb crash later. Sweet potatoes are also a wonderful source of antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin A to help you look beautiful, aid in heart health, and put weight on you safely.
3. Walk 30 Minutes a Day
If you’re surprised I’m telling you to walk 30 minutes a day to gain weight, here’s why. Instead of a regular exercise routine, which many people use to become thin or reach a low weight, stop your normal routine and start walking at a moderate, not fast, pace. My rule for myself was that I didn’t have to quit exercising, which I knew would cause my natural tendency for depression to arise, so I allowed myself a 30 minute walk around our neighborhood and timed it to make sure I didn’t go over. I was still able to move and get out, so I didn’t become stagnant and depressed, but the lower calorie expenditure helped me gain weight faster combined with my diet of heartier foods.
4. Add Avocados
We all know avocados are fattening, but since they are the good fats, there’s no reason not to eat them when you’re trying to put on some healthy weight. Avocados are rich in heart healthy fats, plant protein and tons of vitamins and minerals. They also help enhance your skin, hair, and nail health, so as a bonus, even though you’re gaining weight, you’ll still enjoy all the beauty benefits you’ll receive. I used ½ avocado per day and used them in smoothies, on salads, made into salad dressing, or tossed with some lemon juice and black pepper as a snack.
5. Eat Almonds
Along with avocados, almonds are rich in fat that is good for you, but is very dense, so it helps you gain weight. Instead of moderating my serving, I ate two servings of almond butter a day, and used almonds in homemade energy bars I made. It didn’t take me long to gain weight, plus I got in large doses of natural Vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and monounsaturated fats that kept my body and heart healthy.
6. Add Some Healthy Chocolate
Chocolate is a great food to cure cravings, but can also be used to put weight on. I ate 3 ounces of pure, high fat dark chocolate a day that had no sugar. I consumed it everyday, and in time, I put on weight, along with using the rest of these ways to gain weight in a healthy way. Plus, I sure was happy since chocolate is a fantastic mood-boosting food! I like Ghirardelli bars and Sunspire baking bars that are 100% cacao content. You could also use the raw nibs instead.
7. Eat Oatmeal Once a Day
Oatmeal is such a healthy grain, but a very concentrated source of carbs, so it will help you put on weight if you need it to. Many people use it to lose weight, but for someone who wasn’t eating carbs at all, or grains, it helped me gain weight. I ate ½ cup each night with almond milk, raisins and cinnamon as a bedtime snack. It worked like a charm and due to oatmeal’s B vitamin 6 content, calming tryptophan content, and magnesium content, I was also able to drift off to sleep like a baby since those nutrients relax the body. Oatmeal also keeps your skin pretty, is great for your heart and can help your hair grow, to name a few beauty benefits. I bought gluten-free since I have a gluten-sensitivity and loved enjoying this hearty snack at night.
Gaining weight is not fun; I’m not going to lie. It was hard, and very emotionally taxing, yet I knew it could be done in the right way. Many people disagreed with me, but I wasn’t ready to turn to a junk food lifestyle that got me where I started off in the first place as a teenager. As a teen, I lived off sugar, junk and fast food, that later led me to dieting, terrible skin and digestive health, and a terrible metabolism. Then, that led to anorexia, which later led to binge eating, orthorexia, and back to anorexia. I was a mess! Yet, these healthy foods and tricks helped me gain weight the right way, and in a way that supported my body, mind, and my skin, hair, and nails. Plus all of the tips above balance the hormones, which are naturally off course when you're underweight, or overweight. Trust me, for someone who’s been down every road with her weight, gaining weight the right way is possible. If you want more information on my story, feel free to visit my blog as well at: soulfulspoon.com. Have you ever been underweight and tried to gain weight?