Convincing kids to eat a variety of foods and to consume enough calories is sometimes hard. Food allergies can make it even more challenging. If your child suffers from multiple food allergies, her dietary choices may be limited and she may not gain as much weight as she should. If your pediatrician has confirmed that your child is underweight, a few simple dietary changes may be enough to add on some pounds. Always consider your child's individual allergies when designing a menu, and consult your pediatrician or allergist with questions or concerns.
Rule out additional food allergies and other medical conditions that may be contributing to your child's inability to gain weight or reluctance to eat. Sometimes, kids with food allergies have reduced interest in eating due to pain and other symptoms following ingestion of allergens, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Your doctor can recommend appropriate testing.
Choose calorie-dense foods that are safe for your kid's allergy set. Eggs, peanut butter, cheese, beans and breads are generally high in calories, but these foods are also common allergens in children. Focus on the best options from each safe food group.
Use healthy fats to help your allergic child gain weight. The Virginia Cooperative Extension recommends using vegetable oils instead of butter when cooking and preparing foods. Avocados and nuts are excellent food sources of healthy fats that also contain a decent number of calories.
Offer your child five or six small meals over the course of the day, plus a small snack before bed. Your child's smaller stomach may prevent her from eating very much at one sitting. Offering her more frequent meals can greatly increase her caloric intake.
Offer drinks to increase the number of calories your kid takes in each day. While water is an important addition to every diet, underweight children can benefit from drinking milk and juice between meals. Consider your child's allergens when choosing beverages, and avoid caffeine and artificial sweeteners.
Give your child as many food options as possible. Variety ensures your kid will get as many nutrients as possible while helping to prevent boredom. If your child eats the same few foods every day, she will quickly lose interest and may begin losing weight instead of gaining.
Choose snacks wisely to ensure your child is obtaining enough nutrients during the day. If your child has a dairy allergy, for example, it may be difficult to meet her daily requirements for calcium. To help meet her needs, choose healthy snacks that contain calcium while also being high in calories, such as almonds or a soy-based smoothie.
Involve your older child in menu creation and cooking. This may increase her interest in eating and in making healthy food choices.
Keep a food diary, not just for allergies, but also to see where you can improve your kid's diet. Every week or two, note what nutrients or food groups are underrepresented, and determine meals and snacks that could benefit from more calories.
Discuss your child's diet with her pediatrician or a nutritionist. If you've made some adjustments at home but your child is still not gaining weight, you may need professional guidance.
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