Advice for those who need to GAIN weight

Eating to feel better

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First line dietary advice for nutritional support

It can be worrying if you go off your food or start to lose weight.

This leaflet gives you ideas on how to improve your food intake by making some changes to what you eat and drink until your appetite has improved and your weight has returned to normal.

Remember: Not eating can make your appetite worse

You do not need to eat full meals, you can get the same nourishment by eating smaller amounts more often. You can also add extra nourishment into meals & snacks by adding foods such as milk powder, cheese , cream and sauces.

If you continue to have problems eating, contact your G.P.

How to add extra nourishment to your food

  1. It is not advised to take high sugar foods marked with * regularly if you have diabetes.
  2. If you have been advised to follow a Modified Texture Diet or Thickened Fluids, continue to take the correct consistency when fortifying foods and drinks (use thickeners as advised).
 What?  Why – make these changes?  When?

Make Fortified Milk

1 pint of full cream milk(blue top) with 4 tablespoons of dried milk powder added.

  • Nutritionally almost equivalent to 2 pints.
  • Significantly increases energy & protein content without more volume.
 Use a pint throughout the day in hot drinks, cereals, porridge, milk shakes and puddings.

Porridge & Cereals

Add honey*, sugar*, dried fruit, double cream or full fat yoghurt in addition to fortified milk.

  • Adds extra calories
  • Good alternative if you have “gone off” cooked meals and sandwiches.
 You can eat these any time, not just at breakfast, e.g. mid-morning, supper.

Main or Cooked Meals

Add butter, margarine, cream or cheese to potatoes. Use some oil in cooking where possible.

Add grated chees over vegetables, in sauces or to scambled egg.

Add mayonnaise, salad cream & salad dressings generously.

Add butter, margarine or a creamy sauce to vegetables.

  • Adds extra calories
  • Adds taste to meals.
  • Helps increase vegetable intake to prevent constipation, helps your resistance to infection and improves wound healing

Add these if quantity eaten at meal times is a small portion.

Try to have 1-2 portions of vegetables each day from meals and soups.

Small meals & Snacks

Try sandwiches/pitta bread with cold meat, egg, cheese or tuna. Toast with peanut butter, cheese or cheese spread. Thick and creamy yoghurt, mousse, scone, cake, cereal bar, milky drink, toast & banana,, cheese& biscuits and crisps.

  • It is often difficult to eat enough at meal times.
  • Easier to eat than main/cooked meals.

Aim for 3 small meals and 3 snacks daily.

Choose snacks if you cannot finish main meals or just cannot face them.

Soups and Puddings

Soups -add fortified milk, double cream, or cheese to homemade, tinned packet or instant soup.

Puddings – make with or add fortified milk, add evaporated milk, double cream, honey*, or jam*.

Try small carton of custard, rice pudding, trifle, sago, kheer or other individual dessert as a snack.

Add stewed or tinned fruit to ice-cream.

  • Increases energy & protein content.
  • Even average portions of soup and pudding have good nutritional value if fortified.
  • Easier to take than a large meal.
  • Fruit and Vegetables can prevent constipation, help increase resistance to infection and improve wound healing

Choose these if you cannot eat a main meal.

You can eat soup and pudding twice a day. Choose soups with plenty vegetables and pulses e.g. Lentils.

Aim for 2-3 portions of fruit a day. e.g. mashed banana, tinned fruit, and “smoothies”.


Add fortified milk to tea and coffee.

Make Ovaltine, Horlicks or hot chocolate with fortified milk..

Choose fruit juice or diluting juice with added Vitamin C and aim for 1-2 glasses a day. Build Up or Complan type drinks can be useful.

  • Include drinks between or after meals. Do not take just before or with meals as this can mean you eat less.
  • Take most of your drinks between or after meals.
  • Cups of tea & coffee alone have little nutritional value.

Have drinks between or after meals.

Add sugar* or honey* to drinks to increase energy content.

Ideas to try

Buy in foods that you enjoy

Try to eat something every few hours even if it is only a small snack.

Aim for 3 small meals and 3 small snacks per day.

You may find that if you eat breakfast you will eat better for the rest of the day.

Try to make food appetising and serve smaller portions. You can always have seconds if you are still hungry.

Take milk, milky drinks, ordinary fizzy juices or fruit juices instead of just tea and coffee.

Share cooking and eating at mealtimes with family or friends if possible.

Use convenience foods with require little preparation e.g. quiche, pie, burger, sausage roll, bridie, pizza or ready meals.

Keep a store cupboard of easily prepared foods e.g. tinned meat and fish, tinned macaroni or ravioli, UHT or long life milk, dried potato, packet soups, tins or instant puddings.

High Calorie Snack List

If you have recently lost weight or are reducing/stopping nutritional drinks, try to take at least 2 of the following snacks per day in addition to your meals to help stabilise or increase your weight. Each snack is approximately > or = 300 calories.

Savoury snacks

  • 1 slice of toast* with peanut butter or melted cheese.
  • 4 oatcakes* with butter and cheese
  • Bagel and cream cheese
  • 1 medium size sausage roll or a small pork pie
  • Small packet of peanuts* and a glass of full cream milk (blue top)
  • Cheese scone with butter
  • Packet of crisps and a glass of full cream milk
  • 2 slices of toast with beans or scambled egg.
  • Bacon sandwich – 2 slices of bread
  • Sandwich with egg or tuna mayonnaise – 2 slices of bread

Sweet Snacks

  • Scone with jam and butter and milky coffee
  • Milky coffee with cream cake e.g. cream sponge, large piece of Swiss Roll
  • A glass of full cream milk and 2 digestives with butter or cheese spread
  • Carton of full fat or thick & creamy yoghurt with tinned fruit in syrup and a carton of Ribena.
  • Hot chocolate made with full fat milk and 2 fingers of shortbread.
  • Small pot of chocolate dessert e.g. flake dessert, crunchy dessert, rich chocolate mousse, individual pot of tiramisu.
  • Slice of toast* with butter and jam with cup of hot chocolate made with full cream milk
  • Bar of chocolate with milky coffee
  • Danish pastry or croissant with butter and a milky coffee
  • Bowl of cereal* with full cream milk and small glass of fresh fruit juice or smoothie
  • Bowl of porridge* made with full cream milk
  • 1 toasted crumpet or 2 muffins with butter and a glass of full cream milk

*If you have been recommended to take more fibre in your diet, or it you are stopping a supplement which contains added fibre, you may find it beneficial to opt for wholemeal or granary bread and cereals labelled “high fibre” or “wholegrain”.

Nourishing drink ideas

It is important to drink enough fluid each day to keep well hydrated. The recommended amount is 6-8 cups daily. Fluids such as water, tea, coffee, fizzy juice, Oxo or Bovril count towards this but have little or no nutritional value. Milk, fruit juice and smoothies provide more nourishment and can help increase your nutritional intake.

  • The nourishing drinks below are high in calories and are best consumed between or after meals so as not to affect your appetite.
  • Avoid “light” or low fat options as these will be less nutritious.
  • All milk-based recipes can be made using non-dairy alternatives such as soya or nut milks, yoghurts and milk powders if required, but these are likely to be lower in calories.

These recipes are just ideas and can be changed to suit your own tastes be creative!

Cold Milky Drinks

Homemade Milkshake

(300kcal, 17g protein)

  • 200ml (1/3 pint) whole milk
  • 20g (4-5 tsp) milkshake powder e.g. Nesquik, Supermarket own-brand
  • 30g (3 tbsp) dried milk powder

Put milkshake and milk powder into a glass then add milk gradually, stirring well

Honey Malt*

(280kcal, 8g protein)

  • 200ml (1/3 pint) whole milk
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
  • 1 heaped teaspoon malted milk powder (Horlicks, Ovaltine)

Dissolve Horlicks/Ovaltine in a lttle hot water, then add milk, honey and ice cream, and mix well. Chill or add ice to serve.

Fruity Yoghurt Drink

(400 kcal, 15g protein)

  • 300ml (1/2 pint) whole milk
  • 1 pot think & creamy yoghurt
  • 3 pineapple rings or 1 small banana

Blend ingredients using a liquidiser or hand blender

Ice Coffee

(240kcal, 8g protein)

  • 200ml (1/3 pint whole milk) 1 scoop ice cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Instant coffee to taste

Dissolve coffee in a little hot water, then add milk, ice cream and sugar, and mix well. Chill or add ice to serve.

Ginger Lime

(210kcal, 6 g protein)

1 small pot yoghurt

2 tbsp lime cordial

1 glass ginger beer

Mix yoghurt with cordial in a glass then top up with ginger beer.

Hot Milky Drinks

Nourishing Cup-a-Soup

(250kcal, 10g protein)

  • 200ml (1/3 whole milk
  • 1 tbsp milk powder
  • 1 packet soup-a-soup

Empty soup sachet into a pan/large mug, add milk and stir. Heat on hob or in a microwave.

Cinnamon Spice *

(160kcal, 7g protein)

  • 200ml (1/3 pint) whole milk
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of mixed spice

Warm milk in microwave or pan. Add syrup, cinnamon and spice, and mix well.

High Calorie Hot Chocolate *

(230kcal, 7g protein)

  • 200ml (1/3 pint) whole milk
  • 1 tbsp drinking chocolate
  • 2 tsp sugar

Add drinking chocolate powder and suagr to hot milk, or mix the ingredients in a mug and microwave to heat. Try adding cream for extra calories.

Milk Free Options

Fortified Fruit Juice *

(200kcal, 9g protein)

  • 180ml fresh fruit juice
  • 40 ml undiluted “High Juice” squash/cordial
  • 10g (2 x 5g sachets) egg white powder

Add the cordial to the egg white powder a little at a

time, mixing with a spoon (do not whisk). Then

gradually mix in fruit juice. If these instructions

are not followed, the drink could become frothy

or form lumps.

Combinations which can work well are blackcurrant

squash with cranberry juice, orange squash with

pineapple juice, and cranberry squash with orange juice.

Fruity Float *

(180kcal, 1g protein)

  • ½ glass fresh fruit juice
  • ½ glass lemonade
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 scoop sorbet

Mix sugar into juices and add sorbet.

*These sugary options are not suitable for people with diabetes, use sweeteners instead where possible.