Thankfully your wife is on the "easier" end of the diet spectrum.
Gaining weight may take some time, but I have no doubt that she can
put on a healthy amount of weight and enjoy doing so!
I have a somewhat similar problem so I can understand where your wife
is coming from. The most valuable advice I can give, personally, is
for your wife to make sure she is eating healthy, complete meals, as
opposed to filling up on empty snacks or light foods that don't really
provide much health advantage or nourishment.
a healthy breakfast like fresh-ground peanut butter on whole grain
toast with a glass of milk and a banana is a much healthier, more
calorie-dense breakfast than a scoop or two of sugary, non-nutritious
cereal with a dash of milk.
A small can of tuna mixed with mayonnaise on two slices of whole
wheat bread with lettuce, an apple and some whole-grain tortilla chips
from the health food store is a healthier, more calorie-dense lunch
than a slice of bologna on white bread and a can of soda.
A good portion of lean meat or fish, cooked vegetables, salad and
some pasta or potatoes is a much healthier dinner than a hot dog on a
Throw in some good snacks like a homemade milkshake, some granola
bars, fruite and a bowl of top-grade ice-cream at night, and your wife
has a healthy, high calorie meal plan.
The simplest plans I have come across online (which are not really
diets, but a way of eating) are outlined below:
From "Healthy Ways to Gain Weight," by Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE
* Eat three meals every day. Yes, this means you need to get up in
time for breakfast, that you can't skip lunch, and that dinner
actually needs to be prepared and eaten.
* Eat three snacks every day. That's right: midmorning, midafternoon
and evening. In order to gain weight, you need to fuel your body at
regular times. The easiest way is to set up a schedule of three meals
and three snacks.
* Stop drinking non-caloric beverages. That includes diet soda, and
plain coffee or tea. You're looking for calories, right? Choose skim
or 1 percent milk (we want healthy calories, not fat, so avoid milk
with higher fat contents), 100 percent fruit juice or sports drinks.
* Choose calorie-dense foods. That means eating potatoes, corn or peas
instead of celery and carrot sticks. Or choosing a banana or cranberry
juice instead of an apple or orange juice. Granola cereal is more
calorie-dense than puffed rice. Read food labels for the serving size
and the calories, and make it a habit to routinely choose foods that
are higher in calories.
* Expand your meals. Each meal should include some type of starchy
food (potato, rice, pasta, bread, cereal), fruits and vegetables, and
a protein source (chicken, red meat, fish, tofu, peanut butter,
legumes, eggs, cheese). Use two or three teaspoons of margarine or
salad dressing with each meal to add moderate amounts of fat without
* Exercise. Regular exercise and activity will help your body gain
muscle and not unwanted fat. Thirty minutes of daily activity is
plenty to get your system moving yet not so much that you're burning
up tons of calories. If you are more active, you'll need to increase
your calorie intake.
(As for this last recommendation for exercise - cardio should be kept
very light. Walking or light aerobics is going to keep your wife
healthy, but heavy exercise will burn too many calories.)
From "10 Weight Gain Diet Tips."
Tip 1: Eat High Calorie Meals
High daily caloric intake is the first and most important step in gaining weight.
Tip 2: Eat 4 - 6 Times Per Day
Eating 4 - 6 meals a day helps ensure you are "always" eating and
getting plenty of calories.
Tip 3: Eat High Carb & Protein Meals
This is the norm for all weight gain diets. Complex carbs should be
the bulk of total calories, not protein.
Tip 4: Drink Water
Water is the best way to supplement any diet. It ensures proper
regulation of food, vitamins, and minerals. It also ensures you get
the full benefit from protein and carb absorption. It's the best
supplement in the world by far!
Tip 5: Eat Late At Night
Late night eating helps to keep the body from burning too many
calories during sleep.
Tip 6: Yo-Yo Or Cycle Your Diet
This is an excellent way to add mass. Try eating a normal
high-calorie diet for about 4 days, then dramatically eat even more
calories for the next 3 days. The body will have the same effect that
people wanting to lose weight call "the rebound", except this rebound
will be for the better.
Tip 7: Increase Sodium Intake
Slightly increasing daily sodium intake helps increase water
retention. This underestimated mineral plays an important role in
overall muscle growth.
Tip 8: Eat Red Meat
Red meat is probably the least in cost and the most effective type
of meat for weight gain. Although red meat may be the preferred
protein source for weight gain, it's important to vary protein sources
to get the best results.
Tip 9: Supplement Meals With Protein Shakes
Protein shakes or meal replacement drinks taken with or in between
meals helps to prevent muscle catabolism (breakdown). They also
provide extra fill-in calories, convenient preparation, and aid in
muscle recovery after workouts.
Tip 10: Eat & Rest
What good is a high-calorie meal if it is always being burned off
due to an inadequate amount of rest? This does not necessarily mean
constantly sleeping, it just means to ensure you get an adequate
amount of rest/sleep (about 6 - 8 hours a day).
A Healthy Plan for Gaining Weight," by Mary Beth Campbell, MSRD
"Gaining Weight the Healthy Way."
"Healthy Ways to Gain Weight."
Also read "Gaining Weight and Muscle."
(these rules apply healthy weight gain as well muscle)
Now - just make sure you don't go overboard enjoying all this new
food with your wife!