While many people take January to detox from Christmas cookies and New Year’s Eve Champagne, others resolve to gain weight.
Our relationship with our body, weight and food can be challenging, no matter what our size. Those trying to gain weight in a healthy way face numerous challenges, from the limitations of their bodies, to choosing foods that pack a caloric (but nutritious) punch, to a lack of support from those around them.
Let’s look at a few ways to combat those challenges:
Doctors and dietitians can help you create a game plan that fits the amount of weight you want to gain, your lifestyle and your genetics — they may even provide you with suggested meals and snacks to help you jumpstart your goal. They can also help recommend specific things like exercise, sleep and keeping a food journal.
Of course it makes sense that consuming more calories will yield weight gain. Packing that diet with fast food, though, isn’t the answer for your health. You want to consume more nutritious calories and healthy fats. Try lean proteins, such as chicken or turkey; whole grains; healthy sugars from fruits; and good fats from nuts and avocados.
The kind of weight you want to gain should be mass, not fat, right? Lifting weights will help you keep that weight healthy and strengthen your body.
Sometimes the problem isn’t finding room to put all of this food but simply finding an interest in eating. One strategy to try in this scenario is tricking your body into desiring food, like drinking lots of water or peppering our food with intoxicating spices. Other people find it helpful to evaluate their mental health or eat with others to re-train their eating habits.
We’ve sometimes been envious of friends that wear the smallest sizes or eat like birds, while for us skipping out on diet and exercise for a week means that we can’t button our pants. Western society hammers into us that thin is attractive and fat is ugly. But look at it from the other side. Underweight friends struggle to find sizes that fit them, too.
Likewise, when expressing the desire to gain weight, many underweight people are met callously with unsupportive comments such as, “But you look so good,” or “Why would you want to gain weight?” Those people aren’t interested in a healthy body — they’re interested in what Photoshopped magazines show us healthy should look like.
Be supportive and compassionate if you have a friend looking to gain weight. If you’re trying to gain weight and are having trouble finding support, there are many forums out there where others speak freely about their own struggles.
Do these tips sound familiar? They should, because many of them can be applied to losing weight, too. See — regardless of body size, we’re all basically tackling the same challenges. Love your body because it’s yours. Haters to the left, please.