Eloise Palmateer, RDN, LD
5 Tips to up your Intake
While countless individuals struggle with overeating while trying to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight, others can't seem to keep up with their energy demand and eat enough! If the ladder sounds like you, check out the tips below to help to boost your food intake throughout the day.
Assess your barriers.
What's holding you back from eating enough food throughout the day? Is it your crazy schedule that keeps you chained to your desk, or you're out on the run all day? Maybe you struggle to muster up the motivation to put meals together for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Perhaps your body has a very high energy demand and your appetite doesn't quite match up. Knowing what's holding you back is essential for determining the solution. For example, if you're incredibly busy and can't seem to find the time to prepare your meals, you may want to consider using a prepared meal service (see more on this below!). Here are some common pain points for people who struggle with under-eating:
You have a high energy demand due to your activity level or genetics
You don't have enough time to cook or eat
You dislike cooking and meal prep
You having trouble investing energy into planning, cooking, and preparing meals and snacks
Stick to a consistent meal schedule.
If you're someone who struggles to muster up an appetite at certain times of the day, which then leads to under-eating, rest assured this can be solved with some minor biohacking. If you wake up in the morning and don't feel hungry for a few hours, causing you to skip breakfast, this sets you up for a tricky game of playing catch-up for the rest of the day in order to meet your daily nutrient needs. By following a consistent meal schedule and sticking to it, we can train our body to become hungry at those points in the day over time. Although it may feel forced for the first few days, try your best to have an energy-dense breakfast, even if it's small, an hour or two within waking up for at least one week. Typically, after about 7-10 days, your body will begin feeling hungry at that time thanks to our hunger hormone patterns. Studies have found that ghrelin secretion, a hormone that drives hunger, is a learned response. Meaning, when we stick to a fixed meal pattern our body will learn to anticipate food at specific times of the day and we'll eventually find ourselves feeling hungry during those periods. Patience and consistency are key here!
Incorporate high calorie ingredients in your cooking.
Because fat contains nine calories per gram, it has a greater energy density than protein and carbohydrate, which both contain just four calories per gram. Here are some tips for leveraging healthy fats to help boost the calories in your meals:
Add nuts and seeds to top off a dish. For example, add chopped cashews to a curry dish, or walnuts to a salad/grain bowl.
Add sliced avocado to eggs, a salad, or a rice bowl with salsa.
Use full-fat canned coconut milk as the liquid in a recipe. For example, this Easy Lentil, Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry from the Detoxinista is a great calorie-rich, delicious meal to prepare that will help pack in calories - especially if you use a whole can of coconut milk in place of some of the vegetable broth.
Munch on high calorie, nutrient-dense snacks between meals.
While a solid meal schedule should be highest on the priority list for someone trying to increase their intake, snacks can be incredibly helpful for boosting food consumption between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here are some great options that will pack lots of energy into a small amount:
Just one Perfect Bar packs over 300 calories. You can find them in the refrigerated section of most major grocery stores such as Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Harris Teeter.
Greek yogurt parfait
Top one cup of Greek yogurt with berries, granola, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, etc.
Almond, cashew, peanut, or coconut butter with apple slices or celery
Buy pre-made or make your own with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, dry roasted edamame, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, roasted chickpeas, etc.
Lean on a prepared meal service.
Fully prepared meal services have become commonplace in today's food culture over the past couple years. Examples include Freshly, Mighty Meals, and Vegetable & Butcher (my personal favorite!). If you struggle to find the time for cooking and meal prep, this option makes healthy eating a breeze. You pre-select your meals for the week, choose how many you'd like delivered (or ordered for pick up), and voila! All you need to do is reheat them come mealtime. Not only do prepared meals from such companies tend to cost less than leaning on takeout, but making choices in advance will lead to healthier selections to enjoy throughout the week.
Check out different meal kit options.
Similar to prepared meal services, meal kits can be another great shortcut to meal prep. Rather than sending fully prepared meals, however, you still do a good chunk of cooking, but much of the pesky prep work is done for you. Most of the ingredients come pre-washed, measured, and sometimes even chopped. This is a great option for someone who loves cooking but can't quite find time for all the planning, shopping, washing, and chopping. Examples include Blue Apron, Green Chef, and Purple Carrot (plant-based option).
Consuming enough calories and protein throughout the day is essential for healthy energy production, cognition, exercise performance, and much more! Hopefully you like some of these ideas for helping you eat enough to fulfill your body's specific nutrient needs. If you need more guidance or support, shoot me an email so we can chat!