My husband was already quite underweight for his height (143 lbs at 5'11") before he asked me if I wanted to try veganism with him. I gladly agreed, but now he is losing more weight. It's not dramatic, but he's almost under 140 lbs, and I am getting worried. Does anyone have any suggestions for being a vegan and GAINING weight? Weird question, I know.
I would have him load up on the nuts, nut butters, oils, seeds, lentils, hearty grains and other more calorie-dense foods, in addition to veggies. Making some delish vegan desserts and leaving them out for him to snack on probably couldn't hurt either!
Hi Kristin....I am about 4 months away from being a registered dietitian, so I hope you don't mind if I take a crack at your question (for practice!)
First off, your husband is not clinically underweight with a BMI of 19.9 (below 18.5 is considered underweight). Ruling out a medical condition that would cause him to lose weight, your husband simply needs to start eating more calories than he burns in a day (sorry if this is sort of a "duh" statement!)
That being said, eating a vegan diet can be somewhat challenging because it's so naturally low in fat. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is extremely healthy, but all the fiber in these foods fills you up and makes it possible to go longer in between meals.
The trick is to get your husband to add calorically dense foods to the already healthy diet he is eating now. Liberal use of oil when cooking is probably the easiest way to do this, as long as you're using a healthier oil like olive, canola, or safflower. Grinding flax seed an adding to soup, salad, and cereal in the morning is an easy way to boost calories. Nuts are extremely calorie-dense, so encourage liberal snacking (choose raw, unsalted, and whatever kind you like-they're all great) and use nut butter. Avocado is another great source of healthy fat, so add it to salad, make guacamole, eat it plain!
Boosting carbohydrates will help with weight gain also. Bread and butter, tortilla chips and tortillas, cereals, pasta. Alicia's book is great for weight loss because it pushes veggies, beans, and whole grains, but a grown man has to eat a LOT of these to maintain his weight (and even more to increase it).
Lastly, although it's best to limit their consumption, processed foods and foods with added sugar can be beneficial for weight gain. Drinking 100% fruit juice, while high in natural sugar, is also high in calories, and a good choice when attempting to gain weight.
P.S....if, after, say, a month of doing all you can to boost the amount of calories he eats and he STILL continues to lose weight, I would seek medical advice (I'm betting you won't need to!)
Sorry my response was so long....like I said, practicing! I'm in the same boat-my boyfriend is blaming me (and our new vegan diet) for him becoming "skinny" (I beg to differ). Just know your husband is a healthy weight, it's better to be on the thin side than the heavy side, and it IS possible to gain weight on a vegan diet, although it takes a bit more effort. Good luck!
Thank you all for your advice. We will definitely be trying some of your suggestions this week. My husband has been checked out physically by our doctor, and there is nothing medically wrong with him. We really want to continue on this path, and based on all of the support we've gotten here, I know we are on the right one! I agree with Sarah--it is awesome to see a registered dietitian supporting veganism!
Thank you, Kristin, for starting this topic! I myself also find it quite hard to maintain my weight. This used to be a reason not to go completely vegetarian, but now with TKD book and other sources, I think I have a fair chance of maintaining my weight AND be a vegetarian!
Kristin, At the Kushi institute we have many people who ask the question about weight loss when they think they are too slim. One thing you must consider is where the weight loss is coming from. There are organ choking fats called visceral fats, these are fats you cant just burn off through exercise, but must tackle through diet. In these fats toxins are stored, many of which build up to cause disease. It's possible your husband had/has these fats and his body is now burning them off. This then is a good thing. You could consdier having a consultation with a macrobiotic counselor to give you some insight into your husbands health.
I am a guy that has been uncomfortable being too thin. I had serious health problems that were controlled by a plant based diet but resulted in me losing over 60 lbs. It didn't seem to matter to anyone that I was no longer deathly ill they were all just so "concerned" about my weight. I am exactly your husbands height and weight. We are in fact not too thin. I am just a very unusual American. My Chinese friend is the same size as me and your husband, so is everyone from Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. We are not underweight. Our BMI is in the normal range, not even close to the underweight line and even if it were, that is not an unhealthy way to be. It is being overweight that leads to the risks to health. It's just that guys are not allowed to be thin in our culture without the assumption that something is wrong with them.
I agree that a macrobiotic counselor is a good idea.