Meadville Tribune

Our Health

September 28, 2012

Tips and tricks for when kids need to put on weight

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:

  • Beneficial fats, especially plant-based fats. Each gram of fat has about nine calories while each gram of protein or carbohydrate provides about four calories, so a meal made with fats can contribute to wanted weight gain. Here are some recommended sources of healthful fat:
  • Flaxseed oil. Add to it everything! Flaxseed oil has a mild flavor, so it will go unnoticed if mixed into a smoothie, drizzled onto popcorn or tossed with vegetables.
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil adds sweetness and beneficial calories, so add a tablespoon into a smoothie or to vegetables when roasting.
  • Nuts and seeds. Pistachios, walnuts and almonds are great choices for kids.
  •  Avocados. Make guacamole with fresh avocados, onions and tomatoes, or mix avocado into a fruit smoothie.
  • Olives are about 80-85 percent healthful fat, and because of their high amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients (a beneficial plant compound), they have been shown to help prevent disease.
  • Full-fat dairy has more calories and fat than the reduced-fat varieties, yet a comparable amount of nutrients. We buy only full-fat dairy at our house, because everyone needs beneficial fats.
  • Smoothies. Smoothies are an easy way to ingest needed nutrients and calories, especially if you add coconut oil, coconut milk or almond butter. Get creative with your favorite fruit, full-fat yogurt, nut butters and seeds.
  • Grate cooked eggs into salads, sauces and soups.
  • Cook pasta, rice and whole grains in chicken broth, adding extra nutrition and a few extra calories.
  • Dried fruit lacks water, making it easier to eat more sizable quantities. This means a greater calorie intake.
  • Make granola with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut oil, then mix with full-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Make trail mix with your choice of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
  • Hummus and bean dips make good snacks.
  • Grated, frozen chicken liver provides children with essential nutrients such as protein, Vitamin A, all the B vitamins and iron. It doesn't greatly affect flavor when frozen and grated into food. My kids have never even noticed!

Text Only
Our Health
  • Is getting your daily ‘shot’ of caffeine OK?

    Can’t live without your daily dose of caffeine? I know many people who will go out of the way just to grab a fresh cup of Joe or any caffeine shot to jump start their day or combat that afternoon lull.

    March 17, 2014

  • How virus sleuths and public health officials track the cause of a mysterious illness

    When a mysterious disease fells people - as happened in California recently, with as many as 20 children experiencing unexplained paralysis - teams of physicians and epidemiologists quickly mobilize. Perhaps you saw the movie "Contagion"? The idea is to find the culprit before it spreads but also to prevent public panic.

    March 12, 2014

  • Enjoy the taste of eating right

    It’s National Nutrition Month, and I really love this year’s theme: “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.”

    March 11, 2014

  • ERIC-HOLDER.jpg Holder: Heroin deaths an 'urgent and growing public health crisis'

    Attorney General Eric Holder, calling the rise in deaths from overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers an "urgent and growing public health crisis," is outlining a series of efforts by the Justice Department to combat the epidemic.

    March 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lilly's diabetes drug rejected by FDA

    A diabetes pill developed by Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim was rejected by U.S. regulators because of previously disclosed manufacturing deficiencies at a German plant that hadn't been resolved.

    March 5, 2014

  • Study says too much protein could lead to early death

    Even as researchers warned of the health risks of high-protein diets in middle age, they said eating more protein actually could be a smart move for people over 65.

    March 4, 2014

  • Do flu shots cause runny noses?

    The vaccine used in the study is similar to FluMist, of which 13 million doses were distributed in the United States this year. The work helps explain why runny noses were an occasional aftereffect of FluMist in clinical trials.

    March 4, 2014

  • Trying to lose weight? Reach for the nearest calico cat

    Interesting studies have discovered that cats may actually help us with weight loss.

    March 3, 2014

  • Six reasons childhood obesity has fallen so much

    A major new paper appearing in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that childhood obesity - age 2 to 5 - has fallen from 13.9 percent in 2003-04 to 8.4 percent in 2011-12.

    February 26, 2014

  • Does your insurance plan cover self-inflicted injuries?

    Dealing with a suicide or attempted suicide is stressful enough. Some health plans make the experience worse by refusing to cover medical costs for injuries that are related to suicide or an attempt - even though experts say that in many cases such exclusions aren't permitted under federal law.

    February 26, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks