Sunday, 17 May 2015

Ways to increase your calorie intake

In recovery, you will most likely need to increase your calories at various stages so that you are able to continue gaining weight. This can be really hard, especially if you need to increase your calories when you already feel as though you are eating too much. In my experience, eating huge volumes of food can make you feel really uncomfortable and sick. I also find that feeling uncomfortably full makes me feel extra guilty as it is a constant reminder of all the food I have just eaten.

Just because you need to increase your calories does not mean you need to eat significantly larger volumes of food. You just need to substitute the foods you are currently eating with foods with a higner calorie density. For example eating 2 slices of toast with jam and peanut butter will not make you feel much fuller then eating two slices of toast with only jam, however adding the peanut butter can increase the total number of calories by more than 50%.

Since fat is the macronutrient with the highest calorie density, any foods high in fat will help you to eat more calories without eating more food. You should always try and buy full fat products and avoid low fat options if you need to increase your calorie intake. You dont necessarily need to eat unhealthy fats, there are lots of foods that contain healthy fats as well which have a high calorie density. Nuts are a wonderful food to eat while recovering as they are so high in calories and not too filling. For example a handfull of mixed nuts (1/4 cup) can contain the same amount of calories as 3 whole apples or 7 whole carrots.

If you want to increase your calories without eating anymore, you also have the option to replace any water you drink throughout the day with other drinks like juice, milkshakes or hot chocolate. 

While I am still quite comfortable eating my current volume of food, I do not think that I would want to eat any more then I already am in terms of volume. Instead if I ever need to increase my calories again (which I most likely will need to do), I will just change what I eat.

-At the moment I use half a cup of milk and a quarter of a cup of water to make my oats each morning, I can change this so I only add milk but more of it. 
-Instead of eating 4 serves of fruit per day, I can substitute some of this fruit for nuts and even dried fruit. 
-I can replace my Up and Go meal supplement drink with a higher calorie alternative like ensure.

At the moment I dont necessarily eat the highest calorie versions of each food available. While this doesnt matter at the moment as I am still getting enough calories in, I could always look for higher calorie versions of the foods I eat daily. Generally there are always higher calories options available if you look hard for them. For example I could try and find higher calorie puddings, muffins/cakes, icecream, bread, dairy desserts, milk and yoghurt etc.

At the moment the hot chocolates I have are just sachet ones that are designed to have boiling water added to them. While I love how my hot chocolates currently taste, if I find I need to increase my calories I can always start adding milk to them instead of water. I can also start drinkng glasses of juice with my main meals instead of water.

These are just a few of the ways I plan to increase my calories when necessary but there are many more too. If anyone would like to share any other tips for increasing calories, feel free to comment below. :)

The following video explains how different foods can have very different calorie densities. Don't watch this if you get triggered by seeing the calorie contents of food but I found this really interesting and informative. It may help you to see that eating more calories doesnt necessarily need to involve eating a greater volume of food.

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