Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Son is Underweight

I'm not sure if it's because he's so active or if he just has a metabolism people would kill for, but my ten year-old has always been a string bean. Even back when we were eating processed food and fast food, the scale simply wouldn't budge for him. When he was about two and a half, his pediatrician simply said to let him eat as much of whatever he wanted, including junk food, just to try to get his calorie consumption up. It never worked.

Today, he is in the 3rd percentile for BMI and he is within the weight limit on my baby daughter's high chair. Because he is totally healthy and fine otherwise, his current pediatrician suggested we give him those pre-packaged vitamin-enhanced shake-like drinks for kids - you know, the ones you find next to the formula in the baby aisle in the stores. Well, where I live, those things cost around $12-13 for a pack of six, and he is supposed to drink two a day! Don't get me wrong, I will pay whatever I need to pay to ensure the health and safety of my kids, but I just knew there had to be a better way.

After spending a few days on the computer, it turns out tons of other parents were in the same boat. And nobody wanted to spend $4+ each day for what was essentially souped-up milk. It was time to get creative. I started playing around with different ideas, tweaking recipes, and adding little "boosts" of calories to his everyday fare. He gained 5 pounds the first month! (I realize this is a lot of added fat and calories, but he has special dietary needs and that is the goal here.) Here are some things I do:

Olive oil is a healthy fat and has around 120 calories per tablespoon, so I add that to his completed food and he doesn't even notice. Butter has 100 calories per tablespoon. Heavy cream has 50 calories per tablespoon.
  • Add 1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil to spaghetti with tomato sauce or macaroni and cheese
  • Cook scrambled eggs in 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Butter both sides of the bread for grilled cheese
  • Cook oatmeal with heavy cream instead of water or milk
  • Add heavy cream and/or butter to mashed potatoes
  • Add extra mayo to tuna fish sandwiches, potato salad, chicken salad, etc.
  • Add extra butter to cooked veggies, rice, grits, toast
  • Add a splash of heavy cream to breakfast cereal with the milk
Some other ideas include:
  • Serving raw veggies with creamy dressing (100 to 150 calories per serving)
  • Nuts and nut butters are high in calories and full of healthy fats - make sure you choose natural kinds to keep it as healthy as possible
  • Larabars are about 200 calories and a lot of them are simply fruit and nuts
  • Fry goldfish (140 cal) in 1 Tbsp butter (100 cal) - let cool
My son LOVES milk, so a lot of my additions are centered around bulking that up. He has a glass of milk with almost every meal, and it always has at least a splash of heavy cream thrown in.

*Make fortified milk by adding 1/3 c. (80 cal) nonfat dry powdered milk to 1 c. of whole milk (150 cal) = 230 calories

*Heavy cream has 50 calories per tablespoon - 1 c. of whole milk (150 cal) plus
                                      2 Tbsp. (100 cal) = 250 calories
                                      3 Tbsp. (150 cal) = 300 calories
                                      4 Tbsp. (200 cal) = 350 calories

*Carnation Powdered Instant Breakfast (Rich Chocolate flavor) has 130 calories per serving -  add to 1 c. of whole milk (150 cal)  for a drink that has 280 calories.

*Super Chocolate Milk - 360 calories
                                    1 c. whole milk (150 cal)
                                    1/3 c. nonfat dry milk (80 cal)
                                    1 serving Carnation (130 cal)

*Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Shake - 460 calories
                                    1 c. whole milk (150 cal)
                                    1/3 c. nonfat dry milk (80 cal)
                                    1 serving Carnation (130 cal)
                                    1 Tbsp. peanut butter (100 cal)

*Extreme Shake - 560 calories
                                   1 c. whole milk (150 cal)
                                   1/3 c. nonfat dry milk (80 cal)
                                   1 serving Carnation (130 cal)
                                   1 Tbsp. peanut butter (100 cal)
                                   2 Tbsp. heavy cream (100 cal)

*High-calorie Chocolate Pudding - 337.5 calories per serving
          (I was hospitalized for a several weeks a few years back because I couldn't swallow solid food and this is what they told me to eat when I was finally discharged.)
                                   1 4-serving box dry chocolate pudding mix (400 cal. total, 100 per serving)
                                   1 c. heavy cream (800 cal)
                                   1 c. whole milk (150 cal)

Our goal this month is to break 60 pounds - so close!

Do you have any other suggestions for easy ways to add calories?

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