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What to do When You are Losing Weight

Have you, or someone you know, experienced any of the following:

  • recent unintentional weight loss, possibly resulting in loose-fitting clothes, jewellery or dentures?
  • recent illness which affected food intake?
  • significantly reduced appetite, and difficulty finishing meals?
  • feelings of being underweight?

If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, there may be a risk of malnutrition.

What can you do?

Extra snacks
High calorie snacks between your meals are a good way to boost the amount of nutrition you can eat. For people who struggle to eat three meals per day, it may be best to aim for 5-6 small and light meals throughout the day instead. Please see the 100 Calorie Boosters and Nourishing Snacks, Desserts and Drinks diet sheets for further snack ideas.

Fortified drinks
For people who find it easier to drink in between their meals, rather than snack, high calorie drinks may be a good option. Drinks are a good way to get all those extra calories that you need throughout the day. Remember not to fill up on fluid just before your meals, as it may mean that you eat even less. Please see the Food First Recipes diet sheet for recipes for fortified drinks. 

Alternatively, there are a number of high calorie, milk-based drinks that can be bought over the counter in most supermarkets and chemists, including Complan, AYMES and Meritene Energis.

Food fortification
Another great way to increase the number of calories you eat, without increasing the amount of food you have to eat, is to fortify the foods you are managing to eat.

Food fortification is the process of adding extra nourishment to everyday foods. For example, an easy way to add calories to mashed potatoes would be to add extra double cream, butter and even cheese. By doing this, you are not significantly increasing your portion size, just the energy content. For further food fortification information, please see the High Energy, High Protein and Easy Ways to Boost Calorie Intake diet sheets.

If you’ve already tried all of the above and find you are still losing weight or haven’t gained any weight please seek advice from your GP or dietitian. If Food First doesn’t work for you, there are other prescribable products available, which can help you to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. However this should only be prescribed by your GP or dietitian and should be monitored on a regular basis.

This website has been designed to provide both the public and healthcare professionals with information on malnutrition and its treatment. This website should not act as a replacement for the relationship you have with your healthcare professional. Any information provided is not medical advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your health, you should contact your healthcare professional immediately. This website contains links to websites operated by other parties. The inclusion of such links does not imply endorsement of any or all of the material or opinion expressed on these websites, or of the other parties. The hospital does not control such websites, is not responsible for the content on them, and will admit no liability for their use.