theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

September 29, 2012

Tips and tricks for when kids need to put on weight

By Casey Seidenberg
The Washington Post

— Despite an obesity epidemic in this country, many toddlers and children are underweight. Parents repeatedly ask me how to help a child gain weight in a healthful way. This is an important question because the age-old advice of milkshakes and ice cream (or in my opinion even the sugar-laden Pediasure) just doesn't cut it, and can spark a cycle of insulin resistance that can lead an underweight child down a path toward obesity and diabetes.

Parents might want to focus less on the scale and instead direct their energy toward providing their children with enough macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Empty calories, like those in ice cream, might add a few pounds here and there, but they will not provide the nutrients a child needs to build a healthy brain, resilient organs and strong bones. So if you have an underweight child, begin by ensuring all calories ingested are nutrient-rich.

 

              The following foods can help a child healthfully gain weight and thrive:

        

 

               Behavior and routine

Keep in mind that this approach to eating works for most kids, not just those who need to put on a few extra pounds.

For a recipe that is full of healthful calories, try these energy balls (see accompanying recipe). My children's friends often walk into our house and immediately ask whether I have any in the fridge or freezer; in other words, they are a crowd pleaser, and a nutrient-rich one.

        

Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a D.C. nutrition education company. Look for her posts on the On Parenting blog: washingtonpost.com/onparenting.