High-Calorie Recipes for Underweight Seniors

High-Calorie Recipes for Underweight Seniors

You can’t open up a magazine or turn on the television without hearing something about the latest diet fads. We are constantly bombarded with tips and tricks to lose weight, and now there are even injectable weight loss drugs to help people get slim and trim.

But what if your goal is to gain weight?

Many seniors face difficulty not because they are overweight, but because they aren’t carrying enough weight on their frames. Being underweight can lead to many problems, just as being overweight can. When you are underweight, your odds of osteoporosis and resulting fractures goes up. You might experience malnutrition, which leads to a weakened immune system, decreased energy levels, and an inability to fight off infections the way you once could. You might even have a higher risk of complications after surgery.

Being underweight is not usually a choice. It might happen as a senior loses their appetite and sense of thirst, or even has a decline in their sense of taste and smell. WebMD points out that many chronic conditions, such as diabetes or Alzheimer’s, can lead to a diminished appetite. Some conditions, such as cancer, might also make seniors lose weight.


You might have an inability to eat, due to dental issues or problems with swallowing. Or you might be on medications that make it tough to get the nutrients you need.


Are You Really Underweight?


If you’re not sure whether or not your weight is an issue, start by determining your BMI. The Body Mass Index calculator from the CDC takes your height and weight into consideration to calculate your BMI. According to this tool, if your BMI is less than 18.5, you are considered underweight.


It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the BMI is only one part of the puzzle. A person’s body type might throw off the BMI calculator, so you can’t rely only on that. What you can rely on is looking at the BMI as part of a larger view of senior whole health – if the BMI suggests you are underweight, talk to your doctor about what your weight should be.


If you are underweight, it’s important to get your weight up. While you could do this with sugary foods and lots of carbohydrates, that kind of diet creates problems of its own. The best way to improve your weight is to eat the healthiest possible foods as often as is reasonable. We’ve got some easy recipes for seniors to help you gain weight in a healthy way.


A Note About Good Health


If you are underweight, you are at higher risk of illness or injury. This includes a much higher risk of fractures if you fall down. As you work to get your weight to a healthier level, stay safe with a fall alert device for seniors.  Fall detection devices are designed to sense when a fall has occurred and reach out automatically to a monitoring center, so you don’t have to even worry about pressing the button alarm.


It is vitally important to get help on the way immediately if you suffer a serious fall. If you lie on the floor for a long period of time while waiting for help, there could be other serious consequences beyond fractures. This is especially true for underweight seniors, who are more likely to develop hypothermia or experience pressure sores from lying in the same position for a while. Avoid those secondary issues with the use of an emergency button alarm, which connects you to a trained professional at a monitoring center who can assist you with whatever help is appropriate.


In addition to the use of a medical alert pendant, you should also look into fall prevention strategies that can keep you safer in your home and while you are out and about. Mitigate your fall risk with aging in place solutions that include non-skid flooring, grab bars where appropriate, and better lighting everywhere.


Gaining Weight Safely


You can start trying to gain weight by adding certain foods into your current diet and making some changes in habits.


·        Eat a lot of lean protein. Protein can be found in meat and fish, including chicken and salmon, both of which bring great nutrition to the table. But if you’re not into meat, there are other options. An egg can be added to almost any dish and full-fat cottage cheese can make a great snack.

·        Drink smoothies with protein. Protein smoothies are just what they sound like – shake-like drinks that are packed with protein and other nutritious foods, especially if it’s a smoothie with a fruit base. Sneak a little peanut butter in there for an added protein and flavor boost.

·        Eat smaller meals. If your appetite is lacking, smaller meals can do the trick. Eating every few hours can help you consume more food than waiting for the usual three big meals each day. Have a healthy snack (like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit) within reach at all times and don’t hesitate to enjoy it when you please.

·        Don’t overdo on the liquids. While it is important to always be properly hydrated, too much liquid in your stomach can make you feel full, and that means you won’t want to eat.

·        Add supplements if necessary. Your doctor might prescribe supplemental drinks, such as Ensure, to give you extra calories and more protein. It’s important to use these in addition to the food you normally eat if you want to gain weight; don’t let the drink replace the meal or snack.

·        Work with a dietitian. Sometimes the recommended foods for gaining weight are at odds with the foods you should avoid if you have certain chronic health conditions. For instance, pasta is a great way to gain weight, but it can wreak havoc with blood sugar, which can be a very bad thing for those with diabetes. A trained dietitian can plan meals that are best for you.

·        Use a calorie tracker. There are many calorie trackers available online for free that will help you keep track of your caloric intake. Talk to your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist about your target calories and try to hit that goal every day. You can find a great calorie tracker here.


Try Out These Recipes to Safely Gain Weight


These recipes for the elderly are simple ways to add more calories to your diet throughout the day.


Power Protein Smoothie


·        1 cup of greens (spinach is a good option)

·        1 cup berries (fresh or frozen)

·        ½ banana (fresh or frozen)

·        1 cup whole milk

·        2 tbsps. nut butter of your choice

·        2 tbsps. chia seed or ground flaxseed

·        1 tbsp. wheat germ

·        Ice cubes to adjust thickness


Place all ingredients in a blender and give it a whirl. Add ice cubes until the smoothie is the consistency you want. Adding a scoop of vanilla-flavored protein powder is a good option if you have some on hand.


Yogurt Bowl


·        1 cup full-fat yogurt of your choice

·        ½ cup fresh berries

·        2 tbsps. nuts and seeds (more if you like)

·        A sprinkling of wheat germ


This makes a very healthy snack. The nuts and seeds add extra calories, so don’t be shy about adding them! If you like even more crunch, add some granola if you are not diabetic (granola tends to have a high sugar content).


Lentils and Veggies


·        1 cup cooked lentils

·        1 cup veggies of your choice

·        2 tsps. curry powder (more if you prefer)

·        ½ cup cooked brown rice


Cook the lentils and rice according to package directions. Add in the curry during the last minutes of cooking and blend well. Sauté the veggies in olive oil until they are tender and slightly charred. Then blend all ingredients in a bowl for serving.


Banana Nut Oatmeal


·        ½ cup uncooked oatmeal

·        1 cup full-fat milk

·        3 tbsps. peanut butter

·        1 sliced banana

·        A handful of walnuts


Cook the oatmeal in the milk until it is plumped and ready to eat. Stir in the peanut butter and drop the bananas on top of the oatmeal. Top with walnuts for a brain-boosting treat.


Avocado and Egg Toast


·        2 eggs

·        A splash of full-fat milk

·        A drizzle of olive oil

·        ½ avocado, sliced thin

·        2 slices of toast

·        Seasonings of your choice


Scramble the eggs with the milk in a pan that has been drizzled with olive oil. Add the seasonings you prefer in your eggs. Serve by placing the toast on a plate, topping with the eggs, and topping that with the sliced avocado.


Baked BBQ Potato


·        1 large baked potato

·        1-2 pats of butter

·        1 tbsp. sour cream

·        4 ounces of barbecued meat (chicken, pork, etc.)

·        3-4 tbsps. cheese

·        1 cup steamed veggies


Open up the baked potato and mash the insides with a fork until light and fluffy. Add the butter and sour cream, mashing a bit more to incorporate. Top the potato with the meat and cheese; allow the cheese to melt a bit before serving. A side of steamed veggies completes the meal.


Easy Stir-Fry


·        4 ounces of beef, sliced very thin

·        1 cup sliced veggies for stir-fry, such as bell peppers, broccoli, and onions

·        A hearty drizzle of olive oil

·        Seasonings to taste

·        1 cup brown rice

·        ½ avocado, sliced thin


Cook the beef in the olive oil for a minute, then add the sliced veggies. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the beef is done and the veggies are tender and browning on the edges. As the mixture cooks, sprinkle in any seasonings you want to include.


Serve the mixture over brown rice. Top with the sliced avocado.


Black Bean Bowls


·        1 cup cooked quinoa

·        1 cup cooked black beans

·        ½ cup corn

·        1 small diced tomato

·        ½ small onion, diced

·        ¼ cup shredded cheese

·        ½ sliced avocado


Layer all ingredients in a bowl in the order shown. Dig in!


Quick Foods for More Calories


These foods are ready in a pinch, so use them as snacks throughout the day.


·        Peanut butter on a whole wheat bagel or apple

·        Avocado sprinkled with salt and pepper, mashed up to spread on toast

·        Eggs prepared in any style

·        Cheese or milk blended into soups before serving, if cholesterol is not an issue

·        Drizzle olive oil on salads and savory dishes


Stay Safe While Eating Better


Being underweight leaves you vulnerable to osteoporosis and the fractures that can result. Being underweight might also lead to more fatigue than usual, feeling unsteady on your feet, or even suffering from dizzy spells and other problems from malnutrition.


As you embark on a journey to gain weight, let Alert1 Medical Alert Systems provide you with the peace of mind that you can simply press the senior safety button alert and get live help on the line at any time of the day or night. With an emergency response solution from Alert1, you are never alone!