If you’re a parent with an underweight child, do you struggle with knowing which foods to feed your child to help him gain weight? So often in the media we hear about the obesity epidemic and how too many children are overweight or obese. But what about those on the flip side of the coin? The ones that may or may not eat much, may be very selective with their food choice, may have an aversion to food, may be sick, or may just have a metabolism so revved up that it is hard for them to keep weight on?
If you’re a parent struggling to put weight on your child, remember that at the end of the day, you want a healthy, happy and CONFIDENT child. So, yes while it is important for your child to eat, do not make it a battle or power struggle. If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in this rut then talk to your doctor, dietitian, or give me a shout and I can share some of my favorite posts from fellow dietitian bloggers to give you additional support.
Below are some top tips that fellow mom and dietitian, Suzanne Ferrell, director of Denver-based Cherry Creek Nutrition, shares with her clients each day.
Below Suzanne’s suggestions you’ll find a few extra tips from me. Remember, if you’re a parent needing help to put weight on your child, make sure to talk to your doctor and dietitian for additional advice.
From Suzanne:
*Aim for for the high calorie options from each food group to maintain variety of nutrients and balance:
Grains: Instead of regular toast, make French toast, pancakes, or waffles with butter and whole milk and serve with butter and syrup. You can also use bagels instead of regular bread spread with peanut butter, cream cheese, jelly, and/or butter to boost calories. If you’re serving noodles, load them up with olive oil and/or butter and Parmesan cheese.
Dairy: Choose whole-fat dairy yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and chocolate milk. For dessert, serve ice cream, milk shakes, or make pudding with whole milk.
Fruit: Don’t ditch the fresh fruit but dried fruits, 100% fruit juice, and fruit smoothies made with whole milk add more necessary calories.
Proteins: Scrambled eggs in butter and add in cheese or half and half. Serve nut butters on apple slices, bananas, or on graham crackers. Instead of plain chicken, bread it for extra calories and pan fry in butter or oil.
Vegetables: Cook all vegetables in butter or oil and add extra when possible. Top veggies with cheese. Load up starchy veggies like potatoes (i.e. mashed potatoes), peas, corn, butternut squash, and beans (including refried w/sprinkled melted cheese) with fats like butter, oil, or cheese.
Fats: Whenever possible, add healthy fats to your meal like avocado, butter, and oil.
A few extras thoughts from me….
*Make the most out of meals and snacks. Since it is likely that IF and WHEN your child eats, he may not eat much, make sure each bite is calorically and nutrient dense.
*My favorite high-calorie, high-energy snack that I rely on when my kids are having picky-eating days: peanut butter spoon with dark chocolate chips. Delish!
*While increasing calories is a very important strategy to help with weight gain, do your best to make sure they are coming from nutritious sources (versus straight sugar or processed foods that offer little nutrition). For example, serve a scrambled egg and cheese bagel with a slice of avocado versus a chocolate covered donut.