Sometimes It's Necessary to Gain Weight
Despite talk about obese Americans and their need to lose weight, some people with disabilities require an increased caloric intake to stay healthy. This can be the case for persons with athetoid cerebral palsy whose involuntary movements can lead to greater energy expenditure, and individuals with cystic fibrosis who may require a greater nutrient intake to maintain weight because of impaired lung function and digestion.It is important for people with conditions that increase energy expenditure to consume adequate calories so that protein is spared to repair and build lean body tissue. Otherwise, they are in danger of breaking down muscle protein for energy. Physical activity may be helpful to increase muscle mass if more calories are consumed rather than expended.
Suggestions that might assist in meeting increased caloric needs include:
- Eat small meals and snacks frequently throughout the day.
- Add powdered milk, nuts, and spreads like peanut butter to recipes.
- Add cheese, eggs, and vegetable oil to prepared dishes.
- Drink beverages such as milk, shakes, and 100% fruit juice.
- Use sugar, jam, jelly, and honey to sweeten foods and beverages.
- Choose starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and peas that are higher in calories.
- Add butter, cream, cheese sauce, olive oil, or salad dressings.
Calorie levels of common snack foods (60-120 calories):
1 slice of whole grain bread = 120 calories
5 saltine crackers = 60 calories
4 Ritz crackers = 60 calories
1 small apple = 60 calories
4 ounces of fruit juice = 60 calories
1 medium banana = 90 calories
16 baby carrots = 60 calories
20 small cherry tomatoes = 60 calories
1 hard-boiled egg = 90 calories
1 slice American cheese = 90 calories
Persons with cerebral palsy also may need foods pureed and thickened to assist with chewing and swallowing. Common food thickeners that may be used to change food texture and provide additional calories include: yogurt and pudding to thicken milk, applesauce and pureed fruits to thicken fruit juices, pureed vegetables to thicken soup broths, and plain gelatin to thicken any liquid.