How to Gain Weight Healthy for Seniors & Older Adults
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5 tips to gradually increase weight including meal ideas

weight gain for seniors

If you are an adult in your “golden years” or if you have a parent experiencing unintentional weight loss and need to gain weight, then this article is for you! Keep reading to learn how to gain weight for seniors and older adults by making small changes to your eating habits. 

Common Causes For Unintended Weight Loss

After assessing their medical history, diets, eating habits, and lifestyle, my discovery for the unintended weight loss is summarized as follows:

  • Eating inadequate food for their caloric and nutrient needs. 
  • Small appetite.
  • Taking many medications that affect appetite.
  • Cooking too “healthy” – steaming or boiling most of their foods without adding any fat or oil.
  • Swallowing problems or digestive issues (such as bloating, indigestion, constipation).
  • Living and eating alone.
  • Having a chronic disease or a medical condition that limit their food preferences or choices.
  • Having little energy to grocery shop and cook.

5 Tips For Older Adults To Gain Weight In a Healthy Way

Many of my clients found the following practical tips for weight gain very helpful and easy to follow: 

  1. Eat smaller meals more often throughout the day. Choose high-calorie and nutrient-dense foods at every meal.  
  2. Snack on high-calorie and high protein foods (cheese, avocado, eggs, or nut butter) between meals.  
  3. Add healthy fats or oils such as drizzling olive oil or sesame oil to steamed or boiled vegetables.
  4. Eat soft and easier-to-digest foods such as tofu, ground meat that has been cooked to a softer state, as well as snacking on nut butter. 
  5. Get or stay active! Being physically active will increase appetite and improve your mood!
weight gain for older adults

Breakfast & Lunch Ideas For Gaining Weight

Healthy breakfast ideas for weight gain 

  • One half or one whole avocado 
  • 1 cup of hot old-fashioned oatmeal with ground walnuts or almonds and goji berries, with 2% or homogenized milk  
  • 1 cup creamy black sesame drink* 

Healthy lunch ideas for weight gain

  • Buckwheat noodles or Rice vermicelli drizzled with 1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil  
  • Pan-seared salmon with teriyaki sauce 
  • Stir fry vegetables with a liberal amount of vegetable oil

Creamy Black Sesame Drink*


  • 1 cup of soy milk or milk 
  • 1 tbsp of black sesame powder 
  • ½ tsp of honey or maple syrup (optional)


In a blender, combine all the ingredients. Blend till smooth. Serve hot or cold.

black sesame drink

It is important that older adults and seniors are eating adequate amounts of nutrient-dense foods to avoid unintentional weight loss. Following the tips above will ensure that seniors are eating enough to fulfill their body’s daily nutrient needs. To learn more, please visit Health Canada’s Food Guide for Seniors.

Looking for more ideas on how to gain weight for seniors in a healthy way?

Our Dietitian team can help you with personalized strategies about how to gain healthy weight for a range of reasons related to meal planning challenges, eating disorders, mental health concerns, ADHD, digestive health issues, sports/training demands and more. Book a free consultation call to get started!

Want to learn more about nutrition for seniors? Check out these articles:

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Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
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I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
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“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
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I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

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