There is so much focus on “weight loss” with little attention on those who need to put on weight.
Firstly – you need to always deal with and uncover why you are underweight and struggling to reach a healthy weight.
Are you nutrient deficient? Do you have a low appetite? Perhaps you have a complicated relationship with food and have taken dieting too far? Afraid of eating? Afraid of gaining weight? Or perhaps you have a medical condition that makes weight gain very hard.
All of the above scenarios must be taken seriously. It is my advice that you seek professional help from a therapist/doctor and nutritionist to help you uncover the reason behind your weight loss/inability to gain weight. If you are dealing with anorexia or bulimia you most definitely need professional advice – my blog is not enough. I am here to support you, but additional help is a necessity.
When it comes to healthy weight gain, it’s important to focus on nutrients, not calorie counting. This adds anxiety to the situation. The goal is to gain weight by eating wholesome, nutritious foods. I am not suggesting cheeseburgers and chocolate in excess.
My top tips for healthy weight gain:
Add more good fats into your diet. You cannot be afraid of them if your goal is to gain weight. These fats are so nourishing to your body. Aim to have 2 serves of fat with each meal: e.g.: 1 avocado at lunch, 2 tbsp olive oil in your cooking/salads, 2 tbsp. hummus/tahini added to your meals, 1-2 tbsp nut butter to breakfast.
Add whole grains into your diet – gluten free or not. Your body needs whole grains to thrive. Ensure each meal has a serving or two, eg: brown rice, quinoa, rye bread, oats, beans and legumes. If you are significantly underweight you need to double the wholegrain serving e.g.: 2 slices rye bread, 1 cup oats, 2 cups cooked brown rice. Do not skip carbs at night.
Add healthy oils to your food and cooking generously. 2 tbsp. at least of my favs – coconut oil, organic butter and olive oil.
Make a smoothie each morning. Include lots of nutritious fats, proteins and carbs – e.g.: bananas, dates, coconut, protein powder, berries, cinnamon and coconut milk.
Get plenty of protein. You need to eat protein at each meal. Chicken/meat/eggs/fish/beans/legumes/tempeh/Greek yoghurt/protein powder – never skip this. If you are struggling to get protein in, I recommend a good quality protein powder without the nasty additives. A good nutritionist can recommend brands.
You cannot skip meals or snacks. I recommend two snacks every day and a small dessert after dinner. Some good snacks include: raw nuts/seeds, bliss balls, full fat Greek yoghurt with cinnamon and banana, rice cakes with almond butter and banana slices, toast with smashed avocado, coyo with mango and berries. Any of these options are great for an after dinner healthy treat. Please do not skip the snacks.
Over exercising is really counterproductive. If you are underweight and trying to gain weight, take it slow. You have to commit to doing no more than 2-3 small exercise sessions each week until you come back to a healthy weight. You need to just enjoy rest days. If you need to exercise for your mind – brisk walking and yoga only. NO RUNNING/SPINNING/WEIGHTS until you reach a healthy weight.
Avoid anything ‘fat free’ or ‘low fat.’ They are not the healthiest options!
Have a designated treat every day. It can be a healthy treat. Example: raw/dark chocolate, banana nice-cream, 1-2 slices of my healthy banana bread, 1-2 muffins topped with almond butter, Nutella bliss balls, some good quality gelato or 1-2 brownies. See my recipe section for lots of delish ideas for snacks/sweet treats!
Nourishing foods to help you:
Enjoy these foods in abundance! Do not be afraid – they are so nutritious and nourishing.
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.
Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.
Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).
I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud
My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
Let me know your email address so I can send you an eBook '7 Days on my plate' - a little gift from me to you!