HIV infection often causes problems with weight loss. Here is a list of eating hints to help you gain weight.
- Increase the number of times you eat each day. If you usually have 2 meals per day, start having 3 meals per day. if you usually have 3 meals per day, start eating 4 or 5 times per day. You may have to plan your meals something like this:
Breakfast -- Snack -- Lunch -- Snack -- Supper -- Snack
(See menus mentioned previously.)
- Don't count on your appetite. Eat even if you aren't hungry. Watch the clock and eat something every 2 to 3 hours, whether you feel like it or not.
- Eat more foods that are high in calories and protein, such as milk, cheese, meats, and peanut butter. There are lists of ideas for using these foods in the section, "Gaining Weight with Extra Milk and Dairy Products."
- Make your snacks count! Eat healthy foods high in calories and protein between meals. See the list of healthy snacks in the section, "Snacking On Healthy Foods Makes A Difference."
- Add extra fat to your food. It can increase calories a lot without your having to eat a larger amount of food. Ideas for adding fat to your food are in the section, "Gaining Weight With Extra Fat."
- Add sugar, honey, syrup, brown sugar and other sweet things to your food. Put jams and jellies on breads, toast, rolls, pancakes and waffles. Put sugar or honey in your coffee and tea. Add it to your cereal.
- Eat dried fruit such as raisins, prunes, dried apricots, dried apples, dried peaches, figs and dates. These are good by themselves or mixed with nuts for a snack. Add them to hot cereal such as oatmeal and cream of wheat.
Gaining Weight With Extra Milk and Dairy Products
- Drink milk as your beverage with meals. It has more calories and protein than juice, tea, water, or soft drinks. If you don't care for regular milk, try chocolate milk, buttermilk, egg nog, hot cocoa or milkshakes.
- Use milk instead of water to make soups and hot cereals.
- Make extra-strength milk by mixing 2 heaping tablespoons of dry powdered milk into every cup of milk that you use.
- Regular milk has more calories than low-fat milk or sweet acidophilus milk. Half and Half has the most calories of them all! It can be used in place of milk for drinking and in any recipe.
- Nonfat dry milk powder can be added to a lot of foods to give them more protein. You'll never taste it in there. Try adding it to raw ground beef before making it into hamburger patties, meatballs or meatloaf. You can also add it to any casserole, macaroni and cheese, tuna or egg salad, hot or cold cereal, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, milkshakes and puddings.
- Have ice cream as your desert often. It also makes a great snack in a bowl or a cone. You might also try adding it to breakfast cereal in the morning. Top your waffles or pancake with ice cream.
Gaining Weight With Extra Cheese
- Mix cheese into your scrambled eggs. Melt it onto fried eggs.
- Have cheeseburgers instead of plain hamburgers. Put cheese into all your meat sandwiches.
- Melt cheese onto your meatloaf and spaghetti.
- Put extra cheese on pizza.
- Put extra cheese in macaroni and cheese and any other type of casserole.
- Put cheese into your mashed potatoes, and on your baked potato. Melt cheese onto other vegetables too.
- Put cheese on top of salads, soups and chili.
- Make melted cheese toast instead of plain buttered toast. Put a piece of cheese inside of hot biscuits, rolls and corn bread.
Gaining Weight With Extra Meat
- Double the amount of meat you usually put on sandwiches. Put two hamburger patties on your hamburger bun.
- Have two or three helpings of meat at meals. Eat less of other foods at that meal if you are feeling full.
- Put chopped, cooked meats into soups and salads, and on top of pizza.
Gaining Weight With Peanut Butter
- Spread peanut butter thickly on your sandwiches or crackers
- Put peanut butter on pancakes and waffles before you pour on the syrup.
- Spread peanut butter on apples, bananas or pears at snack time.
- Blend peanut butter into milkshakes.
- Put peanut butter on hot toast, hot biscuits. It tastes great melted!
- Fill the dent in sticks of raw celery with peanut butter. Makes a good snack.
- Spread peanut butter on cookies, vanilla wafers, and graham crackers before eating.
Snacking On Healthy Foods Makes A Difference
Who says snacks have to be potato chips and cola? Make your snack count! Eat healthy foods like these between meals. They will give you protein, vitamins, minerals and the calories you need.
Frozen pizza, fish sticks, sandwiches, tacos, canned spaghetti, crackers and cheese, crackers and peanut butter, hamburger, cottage cheese and fruit, peanut butter on apples, baby food fruits & desserts, ice cream, pudding, grilled cheese, yogurt, milkshake, nuts, boiled eggs, cereal and milk, creamed soups, dried fruit, sliced meats.
Gaining Weight With Extra Fat
Adding fat to your food can increase calories a lot! It can be hard to digest sometimes, though. Use these tips when you feel well. If you begin to have diarrhea or nausea stop adding so much fat.
- A teaspoon of butter or margarine will add 45 calories. Mix it into hot foods such as soups, vegetables, mashed potatoes, cooked cereal, rice, and casseroles. Spread it on bread, rolls, corn bread and biscuits. You'll use more if these breads are hot when you spread on the butter or margarine.
- Salad dressings are a very tasty way to add fat to your food. Try Ranch, Blue Cheese or Buttermilk dressing on sandwiches. Pour it over baked potatoes, or use it as a dip for vegetables.
- A tablespoon of mayonnaise has 100 calories. Salad dressing looks like mayonnaise, but has only half the calories. Put mayonnaise on your sandwiches. Put a lot of mayonnaise in tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad, ham salad. Try it on a peanut butter sandwich.
- Sour cream has a lot of calories, too. Put sour cream on cooked vegetables such as potatoes, beans, carrots and squash. Top your bowl of chili, salad and soups with it. Add sour cream to casseroles. Dip raw vegetables into sour cream. Put it on top of fresh fruit with some sugar for dessert.
- Whipping cream has 60 calories in each tablespoon. Add it to pies, fruit, puddings and other desserts. Top your hot chocolate or cocoa with whipped cream.
- Frosting is made of fat and sugar. You can buy it already-made in cans. Top fruits, cookies, pudding, cakes, and other desserts with frosting.
- Fry your foods rather than baking or roasting them. If you roll your meats and vegetables in flour or crumbs before frying them, they will hold onto more of the fat and calories.
- Put gravy and cream sauces on your meats and vegetables.
Foods Which Will Not Help You Gain Weight
When you are trying to gain weight you must think about eating a lot of calories. The more calories you eat, the more weight you can gain. You should realize that your goal of eating more calories and gaining weight is exactly the opposite of what many people in our country are trying to do.
Many, many Americans are too fat. For this reason, the articles about nutrition that may see in magazines, newspapers and television are often full of ideas about how to reduce calories and lose weight. These articles often have titles like "good nutrition" or "how to eat right." In this country, "good nutrition" has come to mean the same thing as "low in calories."
This can be very confusing for you. Up until now, many of your ideas about good nutrition may have had to do with limiting calories. Without realizing it, your family and friends may also have been giving you advice about eating foods and beverages which are low in calories.
When people become infected with HIV they often decide to make the most of their health. They may begin to pay more attention to nutrition. But if they follow what friends and family and the media say is good nutrition, they may lose weight. And that's not what they need!
Statements which follow are generally considered to be good nutrition advice for people in this country. They are bad ideas for you, though, because they can cause you to lose weight or make it hard for you to gain. A statement is made below each which tells you what you should do instead of following this advice.
Good Advice For Some...
But Not For You!
Number 1: Drink a lot of plain water.
Water may not be the best choice for you now. It has no calories. It would be better if you drank things that can help you gain weight. Good choices are milk, egg nog, cocoa, juice, and punch.
Number 2: Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables won't help you gain weight. They re very low in calories. When you are trying to gain weight, limit yourself to 4 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. Eat more protein foods like meats, eggs, cheese and peanut butter. And eat more starchy foods like bread, cereal and macaroni instead.
Number 3: Hot soups are especially good for you.
In fact, soup may be a problem for you. Soups are mostly water, and water has no calories. In most cases, solid foods have more calories than liquid foods. If you like soup, consider making it from milk instead of water. Also, try adding extra meat, noodles, cheese or chopped eggs to it to increase the calories.
Number 4: Snack on raw vegetables, salad and fruit.
You could find better snacks that fruits and vegetables right now. They are too low in calories. You could get more calories at snack time if you ate sandwiches, pizza, cereal, ice cream or the other foods mentioned in the section, "Snacking On Healthy Foods Makes A Difference."
Number 5: Have sugar-free drinks instead of regular drinks.
Go for the sugar! It has the calories you need right now. You should have regular soft drinks, not "diet" soft drinks. Add extra sugar to them if you wish. And you might add a scoop or two of ice cream to your glass to give you even more calories.
Number 6: Sugar is bad for you. Don't eat it.
Sugar is your friend! Sugar not only has calories itself, but it makes food taste good. You may be able to eat a bit more if you sweeten your food with sugar, jelly, syrup or honey. Put extra sugar in your cereal. Don't be afraid to eat candy bars, cakes and cookies in addition to your healthy food.
Number 7: Fried food is bad for you. Don't eat it.
You need calories and fat has more calories in it than any other food. When you fry foods you just about double the number of calories in them. Unless you are unable to digest a lot of fat, eat fried foods instead of baked, roasted or boiled.
Number 8: Eggs are bad for you. Don't eat them.
On the contrary, eggs are very good for you right now. They have a lot of protein and you need that to keep up your fight with HIV. Forget about cholesterol! If you want to have a half dozen eggs every day for breakfast, lunch and supper, that would be fine!
Number 9: Don't eat between meals.
Eat whenever you can! You may never get in all the calories that you need in 3 meals per day. You need snacks two, three or more times every day. Look at the section, "Snacking On Healthy Foods Makes A Difference" for some ideas on what to eat for snacks.
Number 10: Don't put butter on your food.
Butter and margarine can help you gain weight. They are very high in calories. So are mayonnaise, sour cream and salad dressing. Look at the section, "Gaining Weight With Extra Fat" for some ideas on ways to put more calories in your food using these foods.
Number 11: Drink skim milk and low fat milk instead of regular milk.
Drink the type of milk which has the most calories. Skim milk and low fat milk have too few calories. Drink regular milk, also called "whole milk," instead. And add chocolate or strawberry powder to it if you wish to vary the flavor!
Some days you just may not feel like eating. It can be caused by many different things -- pain, illness, tiredness, worry. It is important to eat well even on days like this. You'll find it helps your mood as well as your body. These ideas should help.
- Eat very small meals many times during the day. How small? Here is a sample menu:
Breakfast: 3 crackers with peanut butter, 1/2 cup apple juice
Snack: 1 carton yogurt
Lunch: 1/2 ham and cheese sandwich, 1 cup cocoa
Snack: 2 oatmeal cookies, 1/2 glass milk
Supper: cottage cheese, canned peaches
Snack: 1 bowl of cereal, milk
Note: Additional sample menus can be found in the section, "Planning Your Meals."
- Watch the clock. Eat something every hour or two whether you feel like it or not.
- Eat food that you really love at this time . Spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, and tacos are favorites for many people.
- If you can find one thing you enjoy eating, just eat it all day. Bowl after bowl of ice cream, or one grilled cheese sandwich after another would be fine !
- Sometimes you can't eat solid food but you'll be able to drink things. Try milkshakes. You can make your own milkshakes with recipes in the section, "Healthy Foods From A Blender." Try ice cream floats -- mix ice cream with your favorite juice or soft drink in a tall glass. You might also try chocolate milk, egg nog or hot cocoa. Creamy soups might go down easily, too.
- Keep snacks right beside you in your home. You might be able to nibble enough to finish quite a bit of food.
- Try some of the ideas in the section, "Mental Health Issues" for making mealtimes more enjoyable.
Feeling tired is normal when you are sick. It is a sign that your body is working hard to fight off germs. Your body needs rest, but it also needs good food. Since it is hard to cook when you are tired, try these simple ideas.
- Fix simple snacks, rather than meals, for yourself. See, "Snacking On Healthy Foods."
- Let family or friends cook or bring you food. Don't be embarrassed to ask for their help. People like doing things for others.
- Try take-out restaurants. Hamburgers, pizza, Mexican food, chicken and Chinese food can all be obtained this way. Some of them are quite low in cost.
- Call a home food delivery service. Many large towns and cities have these. Look in the phone book for "Meals on Wheels." Call your county health department or local AIDS service organization for more information.
- If you are going to spend the day in bed, put some favorite foods and drinks in a cooler with ice beside you. Then you can get your rest but not be without food. A food warmer or crock pot could be used in the same way to keep hot food hot at your bedside.
- Eat canned foods. Try creamed soups, spaghetti, chili, chow-mein and other things. They may not taste the greatest, but they'll get some food in your stomach. And if you eat a piece of fruit for dessert and drink a glass of milk or juice, you've got a balanced meal!
- Eat frozen foods. Frozen dinners, pizza, egg rolls, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and fish. Just pop them in the oven, and set a timer. Come back after a little nap, and you're ready to eat. Drink a glass of milk or juice, add a piece of toast or fruit.
- Look at the ideas in the section, "Heathy Foods From the Blender and Microwave," on ways to use your microwave and blender to make quick meals.
- Keep a stock of easy-to-prepare foods as suggested in the section, "Foods To Keep On Hand For Quick Meal Preparation."
- On days that you feel well cook extra food and freeze it in little plastic containers. You'll be grateful to have these to heat up on days that you are tired.
- Make as few dirty dishes as possible. Use paper cups and dishes, cook in the foil pans that food comes in.
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