Parents of skinny kids often get confusing or conflicting information about what their skinny kids should be eating. “Just because they are thin, doesn’t mean they have the right to eat junk,” said one mom who we interviewed as part of our exclusive series on children with low bodyweight. “I think it’s important for them to eat healthy.” In fact, this particular mom had been left a little irked, to say the least, by her pediatrician’s advice to feed her skinny twins Happy Meals to “fatten them up.” Weight gain meals, can, and need to be, healthy.
It’s disheartening. The frustration at the face of this kind of unhelpful advice is more than understandable. But what’s a parent to do? How can you help skinny kids gain weight — or at least not drop any more — in a healthful way? Once again, we sat down with ZisBoomBah’s nutrition expert Lisa Lanzano, MS, RD to get professional insight into planning weight gain meals and choosing healthy foods for weight gain.
Lisa says the reason why it is challenging to get your thin child to eat extra calories is that her stomach is not any larger than that of the next kid. She won’t be willing to eat more. Therefore, instead of adding more mass to your child’s diet, it is essential to focus on giving her denser, high-quality nutrition. “Make every bite count,” Lisa said. Start by trying some of the weight gain meals and healthy foods for weight gain below to see what your skinny kid might love the most.
Boosting Meals for Weight Gain: 20 expert tips on helping skinny kids gain weight healthfully
- “The difference between a meal and a snack is only size,” Lisa reminded us. “So if you have leftovers from dinner, that can be a snack.”
- Try to include a glass of 100% fruit juice or milk with every meal instead of water. Want more info? Read “Skinny Kids: Why whole-milk products and 100% Juice are better choices“
- Add healthful fats from nuts and seeds to your child’s diet. For example, you can add nuts to his cereal or make a healthy trail mix. Add chocolate chips to the trail mix if it makes your kid want to eat more.
- Served on whole-wheat crackers, nut butters are another great snack that includes healthful fats from nuts.
- Stir almond butter in your child’s oatmeal, and make it with whole milk instead of water.
- Buy full-fat cheese sticks, rather than reduced fat varieties.
- Add rich sauces to foods.
- Sprinkle shredded full-fat cheese on foods to add calories.
- “Use small grains like couscous or quinoa and angel hair pasta, because you are going to get more of it in a cup,” Lisa encouraged.
- Give your child dark meat poultry instead of white. “The dark meat has more fat and more iron,” Lisa said.
- Serve Salmon instead of white fish.
- “Sauté and cook vegetables in olive oil, canola oil or peanut oil for those extra good fats. “Good fat adds calories but doesn’t contribute to fullness,” Lisa explained.
- Starchy veggies are more calorie-dense — e.g. sweet potatoes or butternut squash.
- If you serve marinara sauce in a meal, add extra olive oil to your kids portion.
- Kids love muffins. Bake your with extra nuts, seeds and fruit juice or puree. Check out ZisBoomBah’s delicious healthy muffin recipes.
- Instead of handing your child an apple, give him apple sauce, which is more dense.
- Serve granola or muesli for breakfast instead of flakes or puffed cereals.
- Add dried fruit to cereals and salads for calorie density.
- Try hemp or soy milk, as they are higher in calories than skim milk.
- Fruit smoothies are a great way to add density. “You could even add peanut butter or chocolate to your child’s smoothie,” Lisa suggested.
Did you know?
Our “Get Cooking!” section for kids on ZisBoomBah.com has an entire section with super-easy recipes for drinks and smoothies, including weight gain meals and foods for healthy weight gain your child will want to try out … and make by himself! Explore it together now.
Out of the above weight gain meals and healthy foods for weight gain, there is sure to be a few that your child will enjoy eating regularly. These weight gain meals are delicious and can be adapted easily for the rest of your family. Healthy, delicious meal options abound if you are a parent feeding a skinny kid.