Advice From Our Experts

The Low Down on High-Calorie Nutrition

Often times when children or adolescents are not growing well, they are encouraged to eat a high-calorie diet to help promote weight gain. While it might seem easier to provide fast food, candy and other junk food to increase calories, it is still important to focus on building a child’s health and offer healthier high-calorie foods.

Here are some suggestions to promote weight gain and growth when prescribed by your child’s physician or registered dietitian, while still building health and shaping good food habits.

  • Encourage small frequent meals and snacks. However, it is important to provide some structure to mealtime and allow your child to get hungry instead of constantly grazing throughout the day.
  • Focus on higher-calorie and protein-rich starches and grains like protein-enriched pasta, bread, waffles, oatmeal, quinoa and other whole grains.
  • Focus on higher-calorie and protein-rich dairy products like Greek yogurt, cheese and whole milk or enriched milk substitutes.
  • Encourage a variety of fruits and vegetable, but you can focus on higher-calorie (more starchy) fruits and vegetables like bananas, sweet and white potatoes, green peas and corn.
  • High-calorie sources of protein include whole eggs, salmon, lentils, beans, lean chicken, beef and pork.
  • Offer snacks that contain higher calories and protein including granola bars, fruits or vegetables with dips (peanut butter, cream cheese, hummus, etc.), smoothies (whole milk or enriched dairy substitutes with fruits, added fats like peanut butter, cream and avocados).
  • Add fats like avocados, peanut butter, butter, olives, hummus and cheese to meals and snacks.
  • Try other additives like wheat germ, ground flax seeds and chia seeds.
  • Be sure to avoid excessive drinks during mealtime. Filling up on drinks can prevent food intake.
  • Limit intake of sugary beverages as these are likely to fill up your child without providing good nutrients.

Be creative and involve your child in the meal and snack planning and preparation!