I’ve been on a quest to gain weight for over 6 months now, and it has proven to be more challenging than one would hope. I know how it sounds to others when I complain about how hard it is to gain weight– like who is this person, complaining about being too skinny while the rest of us are out here trying to diet? So I’ve mostly kept it to myself, hoping that I’d be able to figure it out on my own.
It’s truly difficult to do the opposite of what society constantly tells us. The message to lose weight is everywhere– in the news, social media, advertisements, TV/movie, the classroom, and from friends and family. I can’t escape it. What about the message to gain weight? When I google, ‘how to gain weight,’ what comes up are articles with titles like, why you are still gaining weight or 10 foods that will make you gain weight. It’s extremely difficult to find relevant content on intentional weight gain, and it feels as though there’s nowhere to turn to for support. I think to myself, is everyone out there trying to lose weight? Is no one like me, underweight and desperately trying to be a normal size? Maybe it’s from training for an event, participation in a rigorous sport, eating disorder, or just plain genetics, but whatever the cause, I know there are others out there who aren’t happy with their body and would like to put on a few pounds.
The fact that there are barely any resources or information for anyone on an anti-diet, i.e. trying to gain weight, makes it even more difficult to act on it. It goes against everything we’ve learned, since it seems as though we should all be dieting, counting calories, watching sugar intake, etc. I’m not saying there isn’t an obesity epidemic or that the messages to be healthy shouldn’t be out there– because they certainly should be– but I’m just trying to explain how one feels when they’re on the opposite end of the spectrum.
So, what did I do about it? After a few months of trying to gain weight (and failing), I went to a nutritionist to see what I was doing wrong and what I should be doing instead. I told her what I ate in a typical day, and she gave me a meal plan of how many servings of each food group I should eat everyday. I now aim to eat 9 servings of grains, 3 cups of fruit, 3 cups of vegetables, 3 cups of dairy, 8 ounces of protein, and 8 teaspoons of lipids (fat) a day. In order to fit all this food into one day, I eat every 2 hours or so. I feel like I’m constantly eating– I barely ever eat when I’m hungry, let alone starving, anymore. My life basically revolves around meal planning and making sure I’m consuming enough in one day; I’m always packing snacks, going grocery shopping, and preparing meals hours in advance. This is especially important on days that I know I won’t be home for hours, so meal planning is a must.
However, it’s paying off. I’ve gained about 3 pounds so far, but still have quite a few more to go. It’s still a daily struggle to fight against everything society tells me to do, like eat in moderation, only eat when your body tells you it’s hungry, or don’t eat foods high in fat, but I just have to remind myself of my goal and why it’s necessary for me to do the opposite.
So, my advice to those out there who are like me, struggling to put on weight: First, know that every body is different and you shouldn’t take what you read on the internet for granted (i.e. don’t go off my meal plan). Second, see a professional if this is truly something you are struggling with and would like to overcome. They will have the most reliable advice. Third, you can do this. You can fight the resistance to do what the opposite of what the rest of the world seems to be doing. You can eat large portions, lots of carbs, and frequently. Just don’t forget the veggies. And hey, when else can you freely eat whatever the hell you want? Take advantage of this rare blessing. :)