Weight Gain Meal Plan for those with a Poor Appetite

During illness and recovery the need for good a nutrition intake increases. If enough food is not consumed then recovery may be delayed. Some people have difficulty eating. They may have swallowing or chewing problems, taste changes or loss of appetite; often the case during illness. Also some people lose interest in food through depression. Many people are naturally thin and are constantly having a battle to keep their weight up to a desired level. This may be harder because of a busy lifestyle not allowing sufficient time to eat, or due to high levels of physical activity increasing the amount of nutrition the body needs.

The information and the meal plan here is designed to help all the above scenarios, to help you overcome any eating problems you may have and to improve your dietary intake. If you're looking to build muscle, then our Bodybuilding Meal Plan may be more appropriate for you.

If you struggle with volume of food avoid filling up on drinks which supply minimal nutrition, e.g. tea. Fizzy drinks (full sugar varieties) are useful, especially if you are feeling sick, but watch they don't fill you up from the gas.

Some general tips are:

  • Never miss meals
  • Have six small meals a day, rather than three larger ones
  • A meal can be a nourishing snack or drink
  • Try to relax before and after eating
  • Chew food well
  • Having use of a microwave oven is extremely useful
  • Gentle activity before meals may help your appetite
  • Smoking reduces your appetite – avoid it!
  • Drinking small amounts of alcohol may help stimulate your appetite – and it contains calories
  • Most importantly, eat a wide variety of foods

Fortifying Foods
This is a way of improving your nutritional intake without necessarily increasing the quantity of foods eaten. See our recipe for fortified milk which can be:

  • Used in tea/coffee
  • Used to make nourishing drinks like Ovaltine, Horlicks, drinking chocolate
  • Poured over cereals
  • Used to make puddings, e.g. milk jellies, instant desserts, custard, milk puddings

Other ways of fortifying foods are:

  • Add cream, yoghurt, evaporated or condensed milk or fromage frais to savoury or sweet foods to make them more nourishing
  • Sugar, honey or syrup can be added to foods to boost their energy value
  • Jam and marmalade can be added to porridge or desserts
  • Cheese can be grated and sprinkled onto cooked vegetables, omelettes, potatoes, soups, baked beans, pizzas; or used in dishes, e.g. cheese sauce, scrambled egg
  • Extra egg can be added to recipes for cakes, biscuits and pancakes
  • Add finely chopped boiled egg to salads, rice, sauces and mashed potatoes
  • Butter or margarine can be melted over hot foods, e.g. baked beans, mashed potatoes
  • Use olive oil on salads
  • Supplement your drinks with maltodextrin

Ideas for Snacks

  • Breakfast cereals + fortified milk + sugar – at anytime
  • Cheese & biscuits with apple
  • Sandwiches
  • Beans on toast
  • Tinned rice pudding
  • Protein or weight gain drinks
  • Egg on toast
  • Soup and bread & butter
  • Drinking chocolate + biscuits
  • Yoghurts – thick & creamy varieties
  • Cheese on toast
  • Quiches
  • Try our Home Made Weight Gain Shake and Smoothie recipes

Fruit and vegetables should be included as part of a balanced diet, to ensure you get the full array of vitamins and minerals required. Fresh, frozen, tinned or dried varieties or fruit juice are all as good. Ensure you have a glass of citrus fruit juice or blackcurrant cordial every day to provide vitamin C.

Tips when Eating is Difficult

  • Feel free to eat what you fancy; include favourite foods
  • Try different foods until you find something that you like
  • Initially you may find it difficult to eat, but this will get better as eating improves
  • Prepare meals/snacks in advance when you're in the mood for cooking. Freeze these and save for other times
  • Choose quick and easy foods, e.g. sandwiches, breakfast cereals, quiches, when you don't feel like cooking
  • Make the most of convenience foods, ready made meals and fast foods
  • Accept help from others with shopping and cooking
  • Include nourishing drinks

The plan below is aimed to suit people wishing to gain weight or who are having trouble eating enough. It is merely an example and should be used as a guide. If your appetite is poor it's important to enjoy your food, so don't feel obliged to eat something just because it's written on the plan!

Cereal/porridge + fortified milk + sugar
Toast + margarine + jam / peanut butter
Glass of fruit juice
Milky drink
Item of fruit
Baked beans on toast + extra margarine/butter
Thick & creamy yoghurt + fruit
Evening Meal
Mashed potatoes/rice
Vegetables & sauce
Milk pudding
Hour before bed
Milky drink
Snack from list
Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.