Easy Foods for Weight Gain

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Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Anianna » Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:04 pm

One of my four kiddos has suffered "failure to thrive" several times throughout his life (he's 12 now, but about the size of an 8 year-old). He doesn't like to eat. When we find a food that bulks him up some, he gets bored of it and stops eating it. The answer from doctors is basically to just make him eat. :roll:

He eats, mostly in small amounts, lots of things recommended for weight gain, including whole dairy (we have our own dairy goats), eggs, chicken, peanut butter, whole grain bread, and tuna. He also has Carnation Breakfast Essentials with his food in the morning. He's not fond of nuts and seeds on their own. He likes Z-Bars (the kid version of Cliff bars) and Trail Mix bars. Regardless, he is still growing taller faster than he gains weight, which concerns his doctors and could potentially drop him back to "failure to thrive" levels.

Can any of you recommend other things to try? Snack foods would be ideal since he won't eat a lot at a time and self-contained foods appeal more to him than making a meal (he does make his own omelets, though, so something simple to cook is good, too). I don't mind prepackaged food for him. We also make our own snack foods, like a recipe out of Japan that is essentially bite-sized waffles stuffed with a sweet bean paste.

What food do you know of that is high calorie, nutritious, and fattening that we can potentially add to this little squirt's menu?
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by JackBauer » Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:25 pm

Hope he manages to find his optimal weight goal.
Peanut butter and jelly are early nutritious and tasty..how does he do with those?..oops just re-read the o.o and see peanut butter mentioned.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by woodsghost » Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:37 pm

I"m trying to gain weight. To some degree, I have found I simply need to force myself to eat more.

I have found lifting weights and running around with a pack on my back in the woods has a big effect on my appetite. Exercise burns a lot, but it seems to allow me to eat more too and pack down more food than normal. Otherwise, I feel full all the time and don't really want to force myself to eat. But I get big appetites when I work out. I just try to pack down more than I spent.

Putting on muscle seems to help too. I am a slow gainer, so it just takes time and consistency with me. Your son is 12, so there are some limits to how much weight training he should do. I"ve read weight training really does not help much until a year or two from now, due to developmental stuff I did not read further on. Also, doing weight training without proper form has huge potential for doing damage. But doing some body weight exercises might help stimulate some muscle gains and open the door for some fat gains. I"m pretty armature with all this, so others will know more.

Also, consider putting more fat and oil in your food. My wife hates that, so I can't do it as much, but when I was a bachelor I put canola oil in my lunch and dinner. I also cooked a lot with Spam. Also you can put peanut butter or peanuts (or other nuts) in food. My mom put peanuts in all sorts of Chinese dishes when I was growing up. My wife will allow some peanut butter in dishes as a sort of "Thailand influence" on the food. My wife does not like food that she thinks feels "greasy." I put it down like there is no tomorrow.

What also has got me eating more is winter camping and a winter survival exercise I went on when I was 19. The body burns calories like crazy when camping in the cold, and during the winter survival exercise I was starving. I came home and would not stop eating for a month. I ate EVERYTHING in the house. Whenever I come back from winter camping my food intake shoots up for a week or so now. I"m not sure you want to try all that, but it is an experience I have had.

I know protein seems to make me feel "full" longer. Maybe have a lower protein diet and up the carbs? Just a thought.

Just reading over your post it sounds like you try one product till he gets tired, and then switch to another product? Maybe switch products constantly and add calorie boosting yummyness to your regular diet, like nuts, oil, and bacon grease?

Also, I have never heard chicken or tuna being recommended for weight gain. They are high protein and low in fat and carbs. Maybe switch to fattier meats?

Basically, if you boil all this down, my answers are: fats, carbs, exercise.

I don't know if this is helpful, but I hope it might be. Best of luck with the little guy!
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Anianna » Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:02 pm

Woodsghost, that is helpful. Honestly, it is the doctors recommending he eat more proteins to put on weight. If you do a search for foods for gaining weight online, they almost always include chicken and tuna. However, I'm pretty much done listening to doctors. I had trouble losing weight on every single recommendation from a doctor and ended up doing my own thing that doctors don't recommend (a fasting diet - which significantly decreased the pain and inflammation I had been suffering). I also has some very significant bowl issues that failed to respond to everything the docs did for me or recommended, but ended up going away when I added kefir to my diet. So, while what he's eating is largely based on doctor recommendations, I am willing to throw their BS out the window since it isn't working.

As for picking one thing until he doesn't like it, I try to get him to eat a lot of different things, but he tends to pick one or two things that he prefers for a while and then grows tired of them. He has a lot of choices available to him at any given time but gets picky. He loved peanut butter for a long time, but then wouldn't eat it, which freaked me out because that was the first thing that got him to a reasonable weight when he turned two (docs used to prohibit giving kids under two peanut butter back then, but that rule is changing now as research shows otherwise). When he was six months old, he suddenly looked like a skeleton despite feeding well (he was breastfed). Docs put him on formula to no effect. He was given a prescription for Peadiasure, which failed to bulk him but seemed to keep him from dropping anymore. He was tested for a myriad of things, but they never found anything to point to, so he got the vague diagnosis of "failure to thrive"

We try to wear him out by encouraging him to run laps. I think he would like it if I let him use my weights, so I'll add that. He is very high energy and wears us out. I've never seen him tired. Trying to make him exercise enough to want to eat more is exhausting for us and I'm not sure it's working for him. It sounds like the kind of exercise you are talking about is more muscle-building type stuff, though, so maybe we should refocus what kind of energy he is utilizing. I do plan to separate him from the other kids for meals because he tends to play around instead of focus on eating. I think making him eat alone may help him focus on eating instead of on being the "class clown".
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by ZombieGranny » Sun Feb 05, 2017 8:03 pm

They tried Tommy on Pediasure too; but what seems to work best for him is bacon and pizza...
and offering him a handful or glass of something every hour or two.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by The Twizzler » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:11 pm

Peanut butter and honey sandwiches he will demand a Large glass of milk as well. They are quite tasty.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by the_alias » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:22 am

TBH we could lock the thread and have woodsghost be fine.

Coconut oil.

Smoothies with peanut butter, milk, banana. Two a day. A pint of ice cream a day. Whatever - honestly I can't gain weight unless I'm lifting heavy and forcing myself to eat.

However he's 12 so it's different because really you gotta make him eat at that age.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Ellywick » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:46 am

My 6yo son has been off and on failure to thrive weight. He also is very picky, would only eat a few foods at a time until he became tired of them, and for a long time didn't seem interested in eating. People also said to "just make him eat", but it was much easier said than done. I know you said you've taken him to a lot of Drs who haven't found anything. I did the same as well for mine, but it wasn't until last year that my child's new ped doc finally mentioned he might have GERD which resulted in food avoidance. Apparently, ped docs tend to overlook GERD in older children unless they are throwing up frequently or have noticeable symptoms, but many are silent sufferers. Because this makes eating unpleasant, they then develop food avoiding behaviors, so even if the GERD goes away, they still don't want to eat. We had to take my little guy to a "feeding" teacher and put him on a GERD med before he started gaining weight again. Like I said, know you've already taken him to a bunch of docs, but a lot of other parents I know have not had this looked into until I mentioned it and they specifically asked the doctor about the possibility.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Anianna » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:46 am

Ellywick, I think you may be on to something. I have significant damage from and am currently awaiting surgery for that, myself, and he has complained of the same "chest pain" that troubled me as a kid. I don't know why I didn't put the two together, but now I'm having a real "duh" moment. I'll get him in to see the gastro and see what they say.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by bacpacjac » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:17 am

WOW! Our boys sound very similar! Mine's 13 now, about 5'6ish", and the onset puberty has accelerated both his growth (almost half an inch in two weeks!) and his appetite. We weighed him this weekend and he's finally cracked 90 pounds! WOOHOO! He's still a string bean though, and his energy levels remain sky high despite the struggle for calories. Frustratingly, he still picks and nibbles his food, even when he likes what he's eating.

His current favourite foods include pizza, mac&cheese, chili, pancakes, PB/banana/honey or nutella sandwiches, rice, baked beans with maple syrup, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, beef, pork, tuna, kippered herring, rainbow trout and Cliff bars.

Boost/Ensure meal replacement drinks are two staples around here. He uses them instead of milk - in hot chocolate, on cereal and mixed in the Magic Bullet with other stuff to make milkshakes.

Multiple small meals/big snacks throughout the day really help, but we can't get him to eat at school. He stays at school for lunch a couple of days a week and comes home 3 days so I can make sure he eats something at midday. On at school days, I load him up with pancakes with bananas, bacon and/or sausage inside for breakfast. He smothers them with syrup and I'm ok with that.

Getting outdoor play time everyday is important for my son as well. It bumps his appetite up, but I think he might burn as many calories out there as he consumes when he gets in. UGH!

EDIT to add that he LOVES Big Macs with a side of fries! And poutine. ;)

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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Anianna » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:38 am

Mine got up early this morning and used my weights (just little five pound hand weights, but they look big for him!). He said he was really hungry when he was done, but he still only ate one PBJ but mostly because he was "looking for something to eat". :roll:

Seriously, we have a ton of food choices and I encourage all my kids to ask for things they like! Picky little bugger.

He has decided to put my weights in his backpack and climb up and down the hill in the woods later today. He's really into this. I've told the kids if they clean the barn out, maybe we can get a set of weights or something to put in there (my 12 yo is my youngest of four).


Anyway, I really appreciate all of the input here. Thank you all!
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by woodsghost » Tue Feb 07, 2017 12:23 pm

Just a thought; if he is on ADD/ADHD meds, those will have an effect on appetite. I did not start meds till I was in my late 20's because my ADD finally started having a more serious negative impact on my work and schooling.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Anianna » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:26 pm

My bugger isn't on meds, but thinks for pointing that out.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by bacpacjac » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:33 am

Mine was on meds for ADHD, but it made his appetite disappear. His doctor took him off meds two years ago, and it did make a positive difference in his weight. Behaviour, not so much. ;) The struggle is real.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Lynxian » Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:13 pm

Just adding some input based on my weight lifting/baking hobbies: the diet's the doctors have prescribed, with the fish, lean meats, wholemeal breads and whatnot is a high protein diet typically used in bodybuilding/powerlifting routines. Which also surprises me why woodsghost hasn't heard of these being into lifting weights. This is solid advice from a doctor's point of view for someone who wants to responsibly gain weight, especially muscle mass. The down side to this diet however is that most kids - heck, adults even - don't like eating this, let alone in large amounts, which is what's necessary. So it's a healthy way of gaining weight, but also one kids won't enjoy, let alone a kid who dislikes eating for whatever reason.

This doesn't mean I'd advice to throw the doctor's advice out the window, just take a bit of a pragmatic approach with it. As you've long figured out; if the kid likes something, give it to him. But also: he enjoys peanutbutter, so maybe giving him access to an endless amount of peanuts is a good idea. Maybe chocolate covered peanuts? Roasted almonds, maybe? There's also plenty of sweet recipes out there that incorporate almond/pistache/hazelnut paste (so one of the three, not all three together). Essentially, this is when you take ground almond/pistache/hazelnut and combine it with an equal amount of sugar and some egg white and use that as filling for cookies, cakes or rich breads. It's tasty but also rich in calories, because of the nuts and sugar.

And of course, junkfood is rich in calories, even though I of course wouldn't recommend letting him eat just that. ;)

What's the kid's reasoning anyway for disliking so many foods? I get why most kids dislike the healthy stuff, but most kids jump at the opportunity to eat fries, donuts or hamburgers. He simply doesn't like the taste?

Phone edit: And I completely forgot a useful tip: in bodybuilding there's a product called weight gainers that do just that: drink a shake and you gain a big load of calories in a glass. Maybe something to look into? I don't normally order these myself (I use protein shakes; less calories but loaded with protein for muscle repair) nor use amazon for these kind of products, but since you won't be able to read my usual Dutch store, an amazon link will give you a general idea of which kind of product I mean: https://www.amazon.com/Sports-Nutrition ... 6973725011
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by woodsghost » Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:32 am

[quote="Lynxian" Which also surprises me why woodsghost hasn't heard of these being into lifting weights. This is solid advice from a doctor's point of view for someone who wants to responsibly gain weight, especially muscle mass. ....[/quote]

This is exactly why it confused me. It sounded like a perfect prescription in a context of "America has an obesity problem, lets find ways to gain weight that don't risk obesity." However, it sounded like obesity is the very last thing Anianna's kiddo is dealing with. In fact, it may be a stomach(?) problem, given what Anianna and Ellywick worked out (GERD).

In a situation where one is at risk of obesity, or in situations where one is an adult and carries a family history of heart disease, I can fully support a higher protein diet and exercise. Fats and carbs will fatten up an adult, but the adult as other options.

For a child who does not gain weight easily, and is extremely active, I personally feel it is fine to offer them carbs and fats. Those will put more weight on the child faster than protein and muscle gain. Particularly since I have read that younger bodies don't have the testosterone and otherwise don't put on the muscle mass that adult bodies do. So it does not make sense to me to put an underweight, highly active child on a diet aimed at weight gain without obesity in adults and children. If I thought obesity was an issue for the little guy, I"d have different thoughts.

Also, once a boy gets past 13-14 years old, or once puberty sets in for those with late onset, I'd start looking at making weight gains through more exercise and protein. But I would still include a healthy amount of fat and carbs.

Also, I'd bet those mass gainers are primarily carbohydrates. Looking at the nutrition information, they have a very high amount of carbs per serving. This makes perfect sense to me and fits with what I suggested above. The best way to gain weight is to take in more energy than we burn, and the best ways to store energy are carbohydrates and fats.

Also folks, don't take all this as medical advice. I am not a doctor. I don't even play one on the internet. I just dabble in stuff and read a lot. Please do your own due diligence. I"m just responding to Lynxian's surprise at my confusion and explaining where I"m coming from and what my thoughts are.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by TacAir » Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:44 pm

Have you had a Thyroid panel run for your kiddo?

If GERD isn't an issue (I'd be surprised if it isn't a contributor) he may be suffering with an overactive thyroid.

hyperactivity and and failure to gain weight are two symptoms within the spectrum of observable effects - it takes a lab test to nail this issue.

Just a thought, if you are taking him in to see the doc...
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Lynxian » Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:37 pm

woodsghost wrote:This is exactly why it confused me. It sounded like a perfect prescription in a context of "America has an obesity problem, lets find ways to gain weight that don't risk obesity." However, it sounded like obesity is the very last thing Anianna's kiddo is dealing with. In fact, it may be a stomach(?) problem, given what Anianna and Ellywick worked out (GERD).

In a situation where one is at risk of obesity, or in situations where one is an adult and carries a family history of heart disease, I can fully support a higher protein diet and exercise. Fats and carbs will fatten up an adult, but the adult as other options.

For a child who does not gain weight easily, and is extremely active, I personally feel it is fine to offer them carbs and fats. Those will put more weight on the child faster than protein and muscle gain. Particularly since I have read that younger bodies don't have the testosterone and otherwise don't put on the muscle mass that adult bodies do. So it does not make sense to me to put an underweight, highly active child on a diet aimed at weight gain without obesity in adults and children. If I thought obesity was an issue for the little guy, I"d have different thoughts.

Also, once a boy gets past 13-14 years old, or once puberty sets in for those with late onset, I'd start looking at making weight gains through more exercise and protein. But I would still include a healthy amount of fat and carbs.

Also, I'd bet those mass gainers are primarily carbohydrates. Looking at the nutrition information, they have a very high amount of carbs per serving. This makes perfect sense to me and fits with what I suggested above. The best way to gain weight is to take in more energy than we burn, and the best ways to store energy are carbohydrates and fats.

Also folks, don't take all this as medical advice. I am not a doctor. I don't even play one on the internet. I just dabble in stuff and read a lot. Please do your own due diligence. I"m just responding to Lynxian's surprise at my confusion and explaining where I"m coming from and what my thoughts are.
Yeah, it's what I tried to say, but didn't say so explicity; the doctor went for the healthy type of weight gaining which makes sense from his point of view, but in this case isn't really ideal, as kids won't enjoy it, let alone a kid who has trouble eating. It's good, but I'd definitely combine it with whatever the kid enjoys, including a good amount of junk food. Why the doctor probably didn't advice this, and which is what I referred to when I said "even though I of course wouldn't recommend letting him eat just that", is that such a doctor would probably fear such a fussy eater being turned into a fussy eater on the opposite end: learning him to eat just junk food and seeing him in 5 years, obese.

Also, slightly off-topic; a lot of bodybuilders and weightloss 'professionals' have some skewed ideas to what constitutes a healthy diet. I'm referring mainly to people who try to exclusively eat protein or who don't eat carbs because they think they are evil and 'make them fat'. (This one especially has been persistent here in The Netherlands for the last few years.) It's the people who like to lose weight not by eating less, just by skipping something and replacing it for something else. From what I know, the healthy balance differs per person, but assuming a break-even intake of calories (eating as much as you burn) roughly 45% should be carbs (potatoes, pasta, bread), 30% protein (cottage cheese, vegetables, lean meats, nuts) and 25% (healthy) fats (nuts, avacados, (peanut)butter). For the kid I'd say getting more calories in whatever the means is the way to go, but this might be interesting to read for other readers. Also, please don't mistake me for one of the folks I mentioned; I like my potatoes, burgers and donuts just fine. :P
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Anianna » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:40 pm

TacAir wrote:Have you had a Thyroid panel run for your kiddo?

If GERD isn't an issue (I'd be surprised if it isn't a contributor) he may be suffering with an overactive thyroid.

hyperactivity and and failure to gain weight are two symptoms within the spectrum of observable effects - it takes a lab test to nail this issue.

Just a thought, if you are taking him in to see the doc...
I believe his thyroid has been checked. Many, many things have been checked on this child over the years. I'll look back through his labs to make sure and ask the doc to check his thyroid when he has his next physical if it hasn't been.

The kiddo has been lifting my weights every day, multiple times a day since I first posted this thread. He sometimes loads a backpack and goes hiking down and back up the big hill in our woods. He says this activity makes him hungry and he does seem to be eating a bit more, but he hasn't gained any more weight over the last 20 days. We'll keep trying.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by ZombieGranny » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:50 pm

There are plateaus gaining weight just as there are losing weight.
Both are frustrating.

Hang in there. It will eventually happen.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by Dragon80 » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:04 am

As an ectomorph who dealt with this as a kid, I understand. In 6th, 7th, and 8th grade I wrestled 90, 95, and 100lbs. 5lbs a year while everyone else was going through puberty. Doctors said the same things but I was still a 3 sport athlete and ended up just fine. At 36 years old, 6'3 " and 170lbs, sometimes genetics just tells all the so-called rule makers piss off. You can't forget it if they aren't hungry. If I could recommend one thing it would be to make anything you normally buy more calorie rich by changing to complex carbs. Carnation is a good idea, does he eat desserts? I went through all of the extremes trying to gain including a period where I ate 5-7,000 calories a day for months, eventually making myself sick of food and while I did gain weight, my body dumped it as soon as I slacked off of the diet. I'm only about 2-3 years into my body holding onto fat, I was about 7% body fat before my 34th birthday. My secret to gaining was a pizza a day added to my normal intake, many times it was homemade. [SMILING FACE WITH OPEN MOUTH]

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woodsghost
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by woodsghost » Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:45 pm

I have had to adjust my expectations for weight gain. From the beginning of last summer, I went from about 138 lbs naked, to about 132 lbs, when I started working out. I now am at about 144-146 lbs naked. That is a net 6-8 lb gain in 9 months.

I was not eating any extra when I started working out, so I seriously dropped weight. That is when I realized I needed to gain weight and started to research that and really push extra eating. So I went from 132 to 146 lbs in about 6 months.
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by the_alias » Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:50 pm

woodsghost wrote:I was not eating any extra when I started working out, so I seriously dropped weight. That is when I realized I needed to gain weight and started to research that and really push extra eating. So I went from 132 to 146 lbs in about 6 months.
14lbs in 6 months - were you on a recomp? That's some slow ass weight gain.

There is no magic to bulking you just eat more calories - most of America is overweight or obese they must know the secret :lol:
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Re: Easy Foods for Weight Gain

Post by woodsghost » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:17 pm

the_alias wrote:
woodsghost wrote:I was not eating any extra when I started working out, so I seriously dropped weight. That is when I realized I needed to gain weight and started to research that and really push extra eating. So I went from 132 to 146 lbs in about 6 months.
14lbs in 6 months - were you on a recomp? That's some slow ass weight gain.

There is no magic to bulking you just eat more calories - most of America is overweight or obese they must know the secret :lol:
Yeah :mrgreen:

I was not on a recomp. Well, sorta. I thought it was cool I had muscles that showed through my skin, but watched a video and did some research that said the body needs building materials and the whole skin tight muscles look is for show, not athletics. So I changed how I eat and really really tried to force myself to eat.

I'm a slow gainer. I burn calories extremely rapidly both at work and while exercising. I have upped my carbs, but it is hard for me to up my fats because my wife does not like them. She used to have an extra 25 lbs and wants to maintain her current weight.

Honestly, it is hard for me to eat a lot. I just get full really quickly. I have to really work out to work up an appetite. I"m trying to train my body and mind to let me eat more. I have a lot more muscle now and I even have a little fat! I actually have a slight belly! It seems to be a slow process for me. I think more oil and other fats would speed the process, but oh well. Also I see the quantities my friends eat and I simply cannot keep up with them. My wife can even out-eat me on days I have not worked out. But on my exercise days I can out-eat her.

The last 2 weeks I've hit 148 on good days but then the next day I"m back down to 144-146. I have been gaining though. I"m heading in the right direction. My goal is to make it to 155 and hold onto it for a year.
*Remember: I'm just a guy on the internet :)
*Don't go to stupid places with stupid people & do stupid things.
*Be courteous. Look normal. Be in bed by 10'clock.

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo Baggins.

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