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In a country where many people suffer from obesity, it is tough to find information on how to help your child gain weight. Here are a few tips that may help gain weight. Please note that if your child is underweight you should have them evaluated by a doctor to see if their weight problems could be caused by an underlying medical issue.  If your child is underweight then you want to make sure the foods they're eating are nutrient dense. Nutrient-dense foods are those foods that provide the most vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for the fewest calories (for examples: fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lean meats, etc) and void of additives that do not promote health and well-being.   The key is to gain weight without putting their health risk! Many parents try to give their kids unhealthy, high fat foods (butter, cheese, milkshakes, processed meats, etc) to help them gain weight but this only puts their health at risk as well. Below are some examples of nutrient dense foods to start incorporating into their diet daily.

These nutrient dense foods will help gain weight

Olive oil- Add to pasta, tomato sauce, salads, stir fry. Put 2-3T on a saucer and add herbed based bread seasoning then use that as a dip for fresh, soft bread.


Add nuts or seeds to hot or cold cereals, fruit, yogurt, casseroles, salads, stir fry, etc.

Attempt for 1/3 cups of nuts per day and when adding seeds (hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin) do 1-2 tablespoons


Natural peanut butter or any other nut butter- Spread on bread, bagels, crackers, fruit, pancakes, waffles


Avocado/Olives- Add to sandwiches, salads, soups, casseroles, Mexican food

Protein powder- Add to milkshakes/smoothies, casseroles, mash potatoes, soups, eggs.  See a good list here

Nutrient dense snack or meal ideas


1 cup full fat yogurt with an organic granola mix & fruit


Whole grain bagel with 2T cream cheese and 1T 'All fruit' jelly


Peanut butter (natural) and all fruit jelly sandwich on whole grain bread


Turkey sandwich with avocado and other veggies


Whole grain crackers with 2T Peanut butter and 1 cup whole milk


1 cup full fat cottage cheese & 1 cup fruit


1 cup turkey chili with beans over baked potato

2T of hummus with pita bread or whole grain crackers

A bowl of healthy cereal and full fat milk



Click here for more samples of nutrient dense foods

Smoothies -Another way to promote weight gain and ensure your child is getting extra vitamins and minerals, is to make smoothies. Sometimes kids won't eat but they will drink fun smoothies. Click here to see recipes that can help regain your child's weight and strength.  If lactose intolerant substitute milk with lactaid milk, mocha mix, acidophilus milk, soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk.  Please note the calories and protein may vary depending on the specific ingredients you use.


Dietitian's tip: To the smoothies you can add any of the following: cinnamon, veggies, greek yogurt, whole milk, a spoonful of flax seed, wheat germ, chia seeds, honey, nuts, certain protein powders, etc to make it more nutrient dense.

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