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What are the best healthy ways to gain weight?

My grandma is now less than 90 pounds, are there healthy non junk foods that can help her gain weight?
Status: Open    Jan 01, 2015 - 02:10 PM

Senior Health & Nutrition

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APFM Staff Answers

Feb 16, 2015 - 05:50 PM

I know when my grandmother started losing weight we tried everything under the sun and the only to help was when her doctor recommended she start taking an appetite stimulator we tried both Megace and Marinol and they worked wonders! Her doctor also recommended that we get her dentures refitted as she had lost so much weight they didn't fit right and were hurting her mouth when she was trying to eat. As her dementia progressed we also made sure she could see the foods on her plate by using different colored foods and plates.

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Jan 25, 2015 - 04:04 PM

The healthier way for someone to gain weight is by starting a muscle strengthening program targeted to increase strength in the larger muscles that not only will enhance her functional health and ability to move around, including balance and mobility. Your grandma is well underweight and may also have low bone mass or osteoporosis which places her at high risk for fracture when a fall occurs.

A tailored muscle strengthening program that includes targeted balance and mobility training and healthful nutrition that includes adequate protein intake, water - to avoid dehydration, vitamin D. and calcium may help her feel like a new woman. Choose from evidence and research-based program and when possible obtain help from a certified health fitness specialist and balance and mobility specialist that has experience working with older adults in her condition, obtain medical release prior to exercise and have the trainer perform a comprehensive pre-screening and balance mobility assessments such as the senior fitness test, Fullerton advanced balance scale or berg balance scale for example.

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Jan 25, 2015 - 04:32 PM

Hi, my Father had a J-tube feeding inserted in November he lost 13lbs since the procedure. He doesn't eat enough to sustain his weight. He went from 151 to 137. I don't know the condition of your loved one, but my Dad has some problems swallowing so I started supplementing his nutrition for oral gratification purée food but he eats only 5 spoons. I also make him protein shakes with mass gainer protein powder from the GNC he gained 10lbs. Thank God. I would suggest going to Jamba Juice or if you have a machine at home Nutri Bullet I also have a Vitamix blend up veggie or fruit protein smoothies add a superfood to the drinks it worked for me.

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Jan 25, 2015 - 04:37 PM

Hello, I am sorry your grandma has lost so much weight. We had this problem with my dad.

Here are things we tried. It would have worked better if he could have eaten more, but he was nauseous from meds so much that he just couldn't eat enough.

Healthy oils are good, and are found in foods:
-avocado
-nuts - Favorites were/are: walnuts, almonds
-olive oil (try light-in-taste olive oil), or other healthy oils on salad, or used in cooking
-flax seeds or flax seed meal - you can bake seeds into cookies, you can sprinkle meal on cereal or include in --smoothies, spaghetti sauce, baking
-sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
-just make sure the fats and oils you use are not saturated or trans fats.
-an occasional treat of chocolate, but be careful if the person is diabetic

She should eat frequently to gain weight - about 5-6 times a day, but don't nag or force.

Add low or non-fat dairy foods.

Smoothies with fruits and vegetables - you'd be surprised how good (and disguised) smoothies are with some vegetables. I make delicious smoothies including the following, with variations depending on my mood or what's in the house: 1/2-1 cup water or juice, beets, celery, parsley, spinach, frozen pineapple bits, frozen berries, frozen mango, canned peaches, fresh banana, pear, orange, lemon, lime, flax meal, yogurt, red lettuce, kale, etc. The beets make it look raspberry-red instead of green from the green vegetables. Don't serve smoothies too close to before meals because that might reduce her appetite for substantial foods.

I hope this helps, and gets you looking online or speaking with nutritionists or doctors about how to help your Grandma feel better.

Also, if she is able to do any exercise, that can build lean muscle which will increase her appetite. Even just walking around the house or lifting weights (like soup cans) even while sitting, can help a little, and will also lift her spirits.

Good luck to you.

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Jan 25, 2015 - 05:13 PM

In my experience as a caregiver I have found that one very good way to add "good" calories is to use a vanilla flavored protein powder in a variety of ways. For example, make milkshakes using ice cream, milk, & the protein powder, mix it in oatmeal or yogurt, mix it with milk for cereal, etc. Not only does it add about 170 calories (or more, depending on product) which can help with weight management but it also provides nutrients to maintain skin integrity.

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