Many people, often have trouble gaining weight. It is not a good idea to eat mega meals at fast food joints or high-in-fat foods to gain weight. An effort like this will increase your body fat, putting you at risk for health problems. Rather work on improving the quality of your diet. Focus on eating healthy, growing strong and staying fit. Try eating six small healthy meals per day. Eat small meals of nutrient dense foods which you enjoy — this optimises the smaller stomach capacity and provides structure.

Include 2 to 3 servings of fruits and vegetables in the day. Drink juice and smoothies made with milk and fresh fruit. Liquid supplements taken with or between meals — milk, fruit milkshake — are especially important when it is necessary to overcome the lack of interest in food and eating. If you are an avid exerciser, eat 2 to 3 hours before workouts and then within 45 minutes after your workout, and keep yourself hydrated.

Here are some ideas:

* Use whole fat dairy products such as whole milk, regular cheese and yoghurt, cottage cheese.

* Modify Cooking Experiment by adding almonds to salads, or granola to yoghurt.

* Use “extras” Try mixing in Ovaltine or almonds with a glass of milk. Add dried fruit or granola to yoghurt. Mix in nuts, such as cashews or almonds to salads, vegetables or rice dishes.

* Increase portion size gradually Slowly try to increase the overall volume of the food at each meal, starting with one meal. For example, try adding one food item to a typical breakfast. For example, add some fruit to cereal and milk. Then try increasing the amount of cereal. Once portions have increased over a few days at breakfast, add more to dinner or lunch.

4-essential weight gaining musts:

1. Make nutrition your mission. Eating a variety of healthy foods, making time for regular meals and snacks. Good nutrition is a key part of growth and development. It's wise to learn good eating habits now — they'll become second nature, which will help you stay healthy and fit without even thinking about it. Eating on a schedule can help

2. Keep moving. Another way to keep your body healthy is to incorporate exercise into your routine. You might choose to work out at a gym. Try to get at least 45 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.

3. Beware of supplements. Guess what: The best way to get the fuel you need to build muscle is by eating well. Before you take any kind of supplement at all, even if it's just a vitamin pill, talk to your doctor.

4. Get enough sleep and rest. Sleep is an important component of normal growth and development. If you get enough, you'll have the energy to fuel your growth. Your body is at work while it sleeps — oxygen moves to the brain, growth hormones are released, and your bones keep on developing, even while you're resting.

How much weight can I target to increase?

Usually 1-2 pounds per week is a safe and healthy weight gain goal. Most people do not gain exactly the same amount of weight per week. As long as the overall trend during the course of several weeks to a month is weight gain, you are moving in the right direction.

I need to gain weight. I don’t exercise as I am thin. Should I wait until I put on weight to exercise?

You must exercise even if you are underweight. Exercise has numerous benefits. Exercise stimulates appetite and helps maintain a level of fitness. It also improves stamina and strength.

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.

Keywords: weight gaindietnutrition