How to gain weight as a vegan?

KPNR

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How to gain weight as a vegan on a budget with histamine intolerance?

Hey you all,
I signed up because I need some help. I have been vegan for a year and a half now and I've been underweight my whole life and it actually never bothered me. I have histamine intolerance which means I am on a rather restrictive diet even without throwing veganism into the mix so I lost a lot of weight when I became vegan, simply because I either can't tolerate certain foods or can't afford them.

I can cook quite decently but I am having issues understanding nutrition and how to gain weight on a vegan diet. I desperately need to gain weight as soon as possible because I need to have an important surgery and can't be approved for it until I have a somewhat healthy BMI (it's currently around 13.9 and I have to get to 18). I have managed to put on 8 pounds in 2 months but I lost it all again by accident.

I have no idea how to put on the 35 pounds my doctor asked me to gain. I have tried adding sesame oil to everything but I just hate the texture of oily food and I don't like sweets either. Though I have pushed myself to eat more fruits since they have more calories than veggies and also to add oil and seeds and stuff like that, I got tired of it very soon cause I didn't like any of the food I was eating and then procrastinated on eating which ended up to me skipping meals here and there which is why I lost all the weight I gained again. I know that I have to push myself more and I am willing to do so.

But maybe someone here has suggestions for low histamine vegan dishes that can help me put on some weight? I'd be so grateful for that.
If I don't manage to put on the required weight they might force feed me dairy products in hospital and I really want to avoid that. I am very passionate about veganism and I don't want to give up on it just because I am too dumb to manage my health. Instead I'd rather learn and improve
 

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My first thought was, "oh, no. a healthy low histamine diet is not compatible with veganism." you can't gain weight on low histamine vegan diet. You probably can't even be healthy on a low histamine vegan diet.

Before I explain what I found out, I want to ask you some questions. Feel free not to answer them. they are mostly just out of curiosity. Are you and your doctors sure you have histamine intolerance? And maybe even more importantly, are there any ideas on what causes it? Have you consulted with a Registered Dietician?

I did find a little bit of good news. A young woman on a low histamine diet was already mostly vegetarian and tried to go full vegan. At least for a while. but she couldn't do it. she did write up her experience in a blog. and her blog includes recipes and a shopping list. I think her experiences plus her shopping list, and her recipes will be super helpful.

I've also included another link to another blog.


 
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KPNR

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Hello Lou, thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate you taking the time.
It is quite certain that I have histamine intolerance, I've had symptoms connected to it for a long time and doctors have found issues with dao which is responsible for breaking down histamine.
It's not fully clear but I have been exposed to some risk factors. I have been a heavy smoker since the young age of 8 years old and have been into substance abuse for most of my adolescence. Also I grew up in an area with a lot of pollution including radiation.

Your link was very helpful, thank you so much for it. I feel strongly about being vegan, I have been vegetarian for as long as I got to decide what I want to eat and only used dairy products simply because I was ignorant about how bad the dairy industry is.

Edit: I have been getting support from a dietician in the past but they wouldn't respect my choice of being vegan and kept telling me to quit, which is not what I wanted to hear. Sadly my insurance didn't want to supply me with a different one so I am not using these services anymore
 
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fakei

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What about a potatoes diet? Eating enough potatoes it is possible to cover protein needs and potatoes are considered good to fight malnourishment maybe supplement it with some fat sources and fruits and vegetables that are tolerable.

In theory it is also possible to get all protein from grains like rice but they need to be consumed above caloric needs for that purpose. Having in mind that according to literature the lowest present, in terms of daily requirements, essential amino acid is the the limiting one.

Something to work out with the dietitian.

 
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KPNR

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Thank you, I do eat a lot of potatoes. My staple is buckwheat though, I guess it has more protein than regular grains. I am probably just not eating enough of it to put on any weight. For me potatoes are very filling. But I always put them in soups so that makes them easier to consume for me.
 
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fakei

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Thank you, I do eat a lot of potatoes. My staple is buckwheat though, I guess it has more protein than regular grains. I am probably just not eating enough of it to put on any weight. For me potatoes are very filling. But I always put them in soups so that makes them easier to consume for me.
Did you try to estimate the quantity of those staple foods you need to meet the protein requirements of your desired weight? We need 0,8g of protein per kg of weight so all you need is multiply that factor by your desired weight.
To estimate the amount of potatoes it is not difficult however for buckwheat maybe it is necessary to estimate the necessary amount to get enough of the essential amino acid that is present in the lowest quantity which from My Food Data seems to be methionine.
But not being an expert you probably should check out these things
BTW since you say you are not familiar with vegan nutrition, you are aware that it is advisable to take B12 supplement in a vegan diet?
 
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fakei

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To be honest now I'm not sure if the above is the way to calculate it. It is also not clear if the information in MFD is accurate. Maybe just calculating using the total amount of protein in the food label is enough in either case.
 

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To be honest now I'm not sure if the above is the way to calculate it. It is also not clear if the information in MFD is accurate. Maybe just calculating using the total amount of protein in the food label is enough in either case.


The 0.8 g/kg is a good guideline but for various reasons, people use a different number.
Since KPNR has seen a dietician, even if it wasn't a pro-vegan one, (s)he should already have a protein, fat, carb, and calorie goal. I would trust those goals. Any other calculations would be based on averages and I expect that the dietician's goals were specific to KPNR

Tracking amino acids is a great idea - especially on a restrictive diet. But from my own personal experience, it can add a level of complexity that you probably don't need right now. The good news is that if you are eating a surplus of calories and protein, it's doubtful that any amino acid issues will come up.

BTW, CronOmeter is a really good tool for tracking nutrients and micronutrients.

@KPNR, that first blog I linked, the gal has lots of other issues, and although she couldn't be completely vegan she made a good start. I just read a good article in LiveKindly, and one of the points is that even small changes are beneficial. Don't get caught up on being perfect.

She also recommends a protein powder made from rice. The product she used was Pulsin and I would put that on the top of my ToDos. but if you can't find it, any rice-based protein powder should do.

I hadn't realized that the second link I sent you was so full of good info. Randi includes 15 recipes and has 27 more in a book you can buy. It's only $15. I would go ahead and try the first 15 free ones and then decide if the book is worth it. also, she has a "course" you can take via email. I think it's free. Check that out, too.

Lastly, I would also like to come to the defense of your former dietician. I'm pretty sure that (s)he was only trying to do what was best for you health-wise. A low histamine diet is already restrictive and adding veganism to it probably appears to be an extra level of complexity and difficulty that would be far from optimal. *

Keep in mind that there are some time limits involved here. The doctors probably have a deadline for you to gain that weight and get the operation. You probably don't have a lot of "extra time" to mess around and experiment.

So what I'm trying to say is if possible go back to your dietician. Perhaps the two of you can work out some compromises. but even if you can't, I would take the dieticians advice. It's only temporary. And after the operation, you won't be facing a deadline. You can take some time and figure out a low histamine vegan diet.

Another reason to see your dietician again is that you probably should be taking some supplements. And I wouldn't rely on any supplement that is not dietician approved.

* the healthiest diets are ones that include a large amount and a large variety of healthy foods. A restrictive diet, whether for health issues or philosophical beliefs, removes some of the variety. Human Nutrition is very much a soft science. There are still a lot of unknowns. We don't even know all the phytonutrients. So we can't know exactly how removing things from our diets affects our health.
 

fakei

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The 0.8 g/kg is a good guideline but for various reasons, people use a different number.
Since KPNR has seen a dietician, even if it wasn't a pro-vegan one, (s)he should already have a protein, fat, carb, and calorie goal. I would trust those goals. Any other calculations would be based on averages and I expect that the dietician's goals were specific to KPNR

Tracking amino acids is a great idea - especially on a restrictive diet. But from my own personal experience, it can add a level of complexity that you probably don't need right now. The good news is that if you are eating a surplus of calories and protein, it's doubtful that any amino acid issues will come up.

BTW, CronOmeter is a really good tool for tracking nutrients and micronutrients.
If it is not asking too much, how exactly do you calculate it based on amino acids? I imagine first one needs to know which essential amino acid is in smallest percentage of necessary daily dose in the food item and then estimate the necessary amount of the item to get the 100%. But where is there reliable data to do that?


BTW from the opening post it gives the impression our friend has not been given such info.
 
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David3

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Nuts, peanut butter, and seeds! Nuts have 650 to 1000 calories per 1 cup (120 grams): Calories in 120 g of Walnuts and Nutrition Facts . Nuts and seeds are acceptable on a low-histamine diet: Low Histamine Diet

Potatoes = very bad idea for weight gain. A medium potato only contains about 150 calories! People go on potato diets to lose weight, not to gain weight.

.
 
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David3

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What about a potatoes diet? Eating enough potatoes it is possible to cover protein needs and potatoes are considered good to fight malnourishment maybe supplement it with some fat sources and fruits and vegetables that are tolerable.

In theory it is also possible to get all protein from grains like rice but they need to be consumed above caloric needs for that purpose. Having in mind that according to literature the lowest present, in terms of daily requirements, essential amino acid is the the limiting one.

Something to work out with the dietitian.

.
Fakei, potatoes are too low in calories to be effective for weight gain. Even a large potato only contains about 278 calories: Nutritionix .
.
 

fakei

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Fakei, potatoes are too low in calories to be effective for weight gain. Even a large potato only contains about 278 calories: Nutritionix .
.
People who are overwheighted use it to loose weight but our friend is underweighted and trying to gain an adequate weight. And maybe you care to read the entire post, potatoes plus a source of fat. Potatoes are low in calories but you also need to consume a large number of them to get enough protein from them. To get around 80g of protein you need to eat like 4kg of white potatoes, a bit more.
 

fakei

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Nevertheless the potatoes issue is irrelevant since KPNR is using buckwheat as the main staple.
 

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Lou

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If it is not asking too much, how exactly do you calculate it based on amino acids? I imagine first one needs to know which essential amino acid is in smallest percentage of necessary daily dose in the food item and then estimate the necessary amount of the item to get the 100%. But where is there reliable data to do that?


BTW from the opening post it gives the impression our friend has not been given such info.
There are a number of good databases.

CronOmeter has a list of them. They primarily use the NCCDB and the ESHA.

I track my nutrition in CronOmeter. the big advantage is that they do all the research and math for you. However, in CronOmeter I use custom values for my Protein, Carbs, Fats, and Calories goals (provided by my RD - I'm also trying to gain weight). I'm not sure but based on my experience the amino acid RDA's don't scale up if you increase your protein requirements. I've discussed this with my RD and she didn't seem to think it was worth worrying about. Another issue is that if it's processed food - if the product doesn't list the amino acids on the label then CronOmeter doesn't know the content. For instance, CronOmeter will display the amino acid content of Trader Joe's soy milk but not Trader Joe's frozen hash brown patties.

One day I got 121% of my protein goal but didn't get over 100% on any of my amino acids. On that particular day I had an Odwalla protein shake and although it contains a lot of protein - it doesn't list any amino acids on the label so Cronometer doesn't add any amino acids. But I think it's a safe bet that if you exceed your protein requirements you will at least meet your amino acid requirements.




 
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Lou

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According to the site below nuts are not ok.
The Food List | Histamine Intolerance

I think Nuts, in general, are ok. It's just peanuts and walnuts that need to be avoided.

From your source

"Foods that have been reported to have released histamine (histamine releasers):
  • Most citrus fruits – lemon, lime, oranges…
  • Cocoa and chocolate
  • Walnuts, peanuts
  • Papaya, pineapples, plums, kiwi and bananas
  • Legumes
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat germ
  • Most vinegars
  • Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes"
emphasis is mine.
its details like this that only underlines the value of consulting with an RD.
 

fakei

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There are a number of good databases.

CronOmeter has a list of them. They primarily use the NCCDB and the ESHA.

I track my nutrition in CronOmeter. the big advantage is that they do all the research and math for you. However, in CronOmeter I use custom values for my Protein, Carbs, Fats, and Calories goals (provided by my RD - I'm also trying to gain weight). I'm not sure but based on my experience the amino acid RDA's don't scale up if you increase your protein requirements. I've discussed this with my RD and she didn't seem to think it was worth worrying about. Another issue is that if it's processed food - if the product doesn't list the amino acids on the label then CronOmeter doesn't know the content. For instance, CronOmeter will display the amino acid content of Trader Joe's soy milk but not Trader Joe's frozen hash brown patties.

One day I got 121% of my protein goal but didn't get over 100% on any of my amino acids. On that particular day I had an Odwalla protein shake and although it contains a lot of protein - it doesn't list any amino acids on the label so Cronometer doesn't add any amino acids. But I think it's a safe bet that if you exceed your protein requirements you will at least meet your amino acid requirements.




Thanks, used to have that app but was never able to work with it.
 

fakei

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I think Nuts, in general, are ok. It's just peanuts and walnuts that need to be avoided.

From your source

"Foods that have been reported to have released histamine (histamine releasers):
  • Most citrus fruits – lemon, lime, oranges…
  • Cocoa and chocolate
  • Walnuts, peanuts
  • Papaya, pineapples, plums, kiwi and bananas
  • Legumes
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat germ
  • Most vinegars
  • Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes"
emphasis is mine.
its details like this that only underlines the value of consulting with an RD.
They also mention long stored nuts:

Foods that have been reported to have higher levels of histamine:

  • Alcohol
  • Eggplant
  • Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts
  • Matured cheeses
  • Smoked meat products – salami, ham, sausages….
  • Shellfish
  • Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy flour
  • Long-stored nuts – e.g peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pistachio
  • Chocolates and other cocoa based products
  • Seitan
  • Rice vinegar
  • Ready meals
  • Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings
 
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