Sunday, 11 August 2013

Weight Management

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I've been enjoying my summer! But I've got a post on weight management if you find, like me, that putting on weight is a struggle. I know, feel free to hate the fact I'm skinny! But it's a problem. And being underweight is as dangerous, perhaps more so, than being overweight. 

I've been trying to gain weight for a while now and I got given the most useless pamphlet by the people at Papworth advising me how to gain weight, back in March. This is what they told me to do. 'Eat lots of processed food.' I guess I should just throw nutrition out of the window then, I'm sure saturated fats are the way to keep my heart healthy. 'Don't eat 5 portions of fruit and veg, limit to 2 portions because they don't contain enough fat or calories.' I never thought I'd see the day the NHS was telling me to not eat fruit and vegetables. 'Eat sugary snacks, and full sugar fizzy drinks.' And watch your teeth fall out as you go. 

Given that this leaflet was the most useless thing I've ever read, I decided to give some help to those in my position. As I said I'm trying to gain weight, but I'll be giving some advice to losing weight too because I know that's a problem other people too, especially when you're on the transplant list as all the risk factors go up once you go above or below a certain BMI. I don't pretend to be an expert in nutrition, quite the contrary, but I've picked up a lot of tips from tv programmes, reading and from my own experience so I hope it'll be useful. I think advice to people trying to gain weight is difficult to find and obviously the NHS aren't giving the most useful advice on this subject.

Firstly let me just say, crash diets don't work. The best way to manage your weight is to make small but permanent changes to your diet and lifestyle. In any case crash diets are not healthy. So here are my tips for managing your weight. 

Don't count calories of grams of fat - Your body doesn't absorb some fats, for example nuts have a high fat snd calorie content but the amount of fat and calories your stomach breaks down is minimal. What you should be doing to checking for saturated fat which your stomach breaks down easily and contributes to high cholesterol. This is what makes processed food so bad. When fatty food is broken down for you then all of it is absorbed by your body. For example when nuts are puréed into peanut butter, your body will probably absorb the number of calories written on the tin. So if your trying to gain weight eating ground nuts or peanut butter will let you put more weight on than eating whole nuts. For those trying to loose it, nuts are a very good snack because they fill you up and don't contain any of the nasty stuff in crisps or biscuits. Choose an unsalted almond, as they are particularly hard for your stomach to break down. Even if you are trying to put on weight, my advice would be to stay away from saturated fat also, because it's not good for you at all and adding bad habits like that to your diet is not a good idea. Keep your takeaways as a treat. 

Making the little changes - for those putting on weight - add butter to your potatoes and vegetables, switch to whole milk and drink a glass every other day, add more meat to your diet, minced meat is good because again it's been broken down so your body will absorb more of the calories. Switch crisps for biscuits, something like a digestive, nothing too sugary to protect those teeth. Eat a larger snack rather than grazing, some cheese and biscuits or a high calorie breakfast bar, or even buying bars designed to be high in calories for climbers or mountaineers. If you're especially worried about your weight and you have a condition that means it's dangerous for you such as heart disease you can get high calorie milkshakes on prescription which is a lot cheaper than buying them yourself and will pack an easy calorie drink. This is especially good if you have a busy lifestyle, but don't use shakes or bars to replace meals, these are simply to replace low calorie or unhealthy snacks. They do fill you up a bit so find a time where it isn't going to interfere with your meals or drink half a milkshake a day and keep the other half in the fridge and build up. Smoothies are good as they are very healthy and contain more calories and less nasties than coke. Choose a banana and mango smoothie or something that isn't too acidic to save your tooth enamel. You might want to consider switching to a pro enamel toothpaste if your going to be eating a lot more fruit than you usually do. This tip goes for those of you trying to lose weight too as smoothies are a good filler and will keep you fuller for longer, but remember to protect your teeth. I actually don't have a tooth enamel so I'm particularly careful about the acidity in my foods. Note that cheese and dairy products will neutralise the acidity in your mouth so cheese and apple is a good nutritious combo for those gaining weight.  

I don't have any particular tips for loosing weight as I don't have any personal experience as I have with trying to gain weight. But how to loose weight is a subject that has been written about extensively. Just eat things that are healthy and add some exercise into your daily routine. Don't skip meals or your body will panic and start storing everything you eat because it will think you are fasting and grazing will keep your metabolism working full out.

I hope this is useful to you in some way, or interesting at least. I found such a lack of advice for people trying to gain weight and I hope that people will find this at least more useful than that terrible NHS advice leaflet! 

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