Help me find a nutritionist/meal planner for sick friend weight gain
August 14, 2019 6:53 PM   Subscribe

My friend is seriously ill and it’s been messing with their appetite. They have no restrictions and can still eat whatever they want, but need help coming up with tasty and nutritious food ideas. I’d be happy to hear your tasty, nutritious weight gain recipes — but more than that, would love help finding a specialist who works remotely to whom I can refer my friend.
posted by hungrytiger to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
Have they already asked their primary or specialist doctors for a recommendation for a specialist or nutrition plan? There's a good chance whoever they already recommend patients to may be able to do a remote/phone session or may be able to recommend a hospital or clinic that already does telemedicine. It's becoming quite common. Start with doctors you trust and work outward from there.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:00 PM on August 14, 2019

I recently lost my appetite and found that, for me, sometimes I needed to focus on extremely high calorie foods that weren't actual meals to get enough calories in the small amount of food I could stomach.

So instead of eating an orange, I'd eat ice cream. I had a tablespoon of peanut butter before AND after eating something else. Dipped (soaked) bread in good quality olive oil. These are the specifics that worked for me.
posted by cacao at 7:01 PM on August 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is going to depend on what your friend is ill with and what medications and treatments they may be on, which can also affect their appetite. Taste changes can also occur with some medications and treatments (like radiation or chemo or even some antibiotics).

Look for a registered dietitian because they will most be able to sort through your friend's medical conditions and brainstorm ideas. If your friend is receiving treatment in a hospital, they can ask there to be seen by a dietitian and/or a referral to one.
posted by astapasta24 at 7:33 PM on August 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

If they're OK with ice cream, then nothing is better than homemade strawberry ice cream.

In the same food family: angel food cake, freshly whipped cream, fresh berries. Together. So great. It's kind of "light" tasting when you eat it, but whipped cream = so many calories. Try making it without a whole bunch of sugar at first - the overly sweet flavor of a lot of stuff can be off-putting, and if the angel food cake is really sweet, less-sweet cream (really, try adding almost no sugar) can be an excellent complement.
posted by amtho at 7:41 PM on August 14, 2019

When I experienced significant weight loss due to a medication change, I saw a nutritionist who was ZERO help. She focused on “good” nutrition without taking into account my immediate need for weight gain and my extreme fatigue which made preparing foods challenging.

Rather than focusing on nutrition right now, focus on calories, desirability, and practicality. How easy is it for your friend to prepare (or for someone to prepare for them)? How much do they say they want to eat it? How calorie-dense is it? Worry about healthy nutrition after the crisis has passed—now is the time for chocolate malts.
posted by epj at 8:53 PM on August 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

To clarify, a registered dietitian has had standardized medical training and is licensed. Anyone can hang out their shingle as a nutritionist. I support the idea of starting with an RD in this case.
posted by momus_window at 8:57 PM on August 14, 2019 [5 favorites]

I call this mode of eating "astronaut food."

Balance Bar Gold - Caramel Nut Blast is exactly like a Snickers bar, except it's 15g protein (2½ eggs), 210 calories, and they're low-glycemic. I was addicted to these when I was riding my bike a lot and needed to stock up on protein and calories.

Beef Jerky is good, if dietarily salty. Same with sardines on saltines.

You can get whey powder and put it in anything, like strawberry smoothies, and get a whole bunch of protein that way.

Carbs I say pizza, pasta, that kind of thing.

Seconding a dietician. If they have health insurance they may be able to get a meeting or three with one.
posted by rhizome at 9:25 PM on August 14, 2019

Definitely a RD. They can be amazing. I was in the opposite boat and needed to lose weight. The RD, as part of the bariatric program, helped me find substitutes for things I loved. She helped me rethink portion size. This was before surgery, portion size isn't an issue now. And she was a cheerleader.
posted by kathrynm at 6:36 AM on August 15, 2019

Michelle Allison, aka The Fat Nutrionist, is a Canadian registered dietitian who does remote consults. I have no direct experience with her professional work. I've been learning from her blog for years. She's emailable
posted by Jesse the K at 8:26 AM on August 15, 2019

Since you specifically said "no restrictions," I'll mention the Reddit gainit forum, which has many good and sensible ideas, but it is generally aimed at healthy people who are either genetically underweight or who are skinny and trying to bulk up.

Drinkable meals tend to be less filling than chewable meals. The Reddit forum has a lot of smoothie suggestions.

The problem with weight gain is that you basically have to reverse much (but not all) of the standard nutrition advice. And "eat more" is as useless to the person trying to gain weight as "eat less" is to the person who's trying to lose.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 5:27 PM on August 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

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