Both of my children have always been on the skinny side, so much that the Doctor actually made me schedule an appointment just for my daughter to have a weight check. The only thing he suggested was to add Carnation Instant Breakfast to her Milk. Is there any other way I can beef up my children's diet?

There are many ways to add healthy calories and protein to your children’s diet! Carnation Instant Breakfast (and other supplement drinks) are common recommendations by physicians because they are quick/easy and filled with lots of healthy nutrients. However, many kids (and adults) don’t necessarily like the taste of these supplement drinks, so I would not necessarily add them initially. First I would resist the urge to bulk up your child’s diet by adding a lot of unhealthy foods like sweets, fried foods, beverages with added sugar, and candy. Kids need a balanced diet that is filled with lean proteins (skinless chicken breasts, lean red meat, eggs, and beans) and starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, pasta and rice. Aim to provide ~ 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and make sure your child is consuming diluted juice or water for beverages.

Feeding a healthy diet to your child really begins at home. Make sure they are consuming some sort of breakfast in the morning. If they are not fans of breakfast, I suggest combining yogurt, frozen fruit, and 100% fruit juice with ice in the blender. Tell your child that it is a healthy milkshake and put it in a travel friendly mug for them to drink in the car on the way to school. If nothing else, try to get your child to consume at least a handful of trail mix or dried cereal in the a.m.

Now ask yourself how much time your kids spend eating meals as a family/at the dinner table versus grabbing snacks periodically and eating on the run. Make the evening meal special by allowing your children to help you plan/prepare the meal itself. To help your child gain weight, serve him or her extra portions of the starchy component of the meal (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread). Lunch can also be another time where kids can consume more of the healthy nutrients to help them gain weight. Speak with your child about what healthy lunches look like, pack their lunch in advance or arrange them to get the prepaid school lunches. Often times kids will take any money given to them for lunch and spend it on candy bars and soda, which do not contain nutrients that will keep their energy levels up for the remainder of the day. Pack a variety of things in their lunch and encourage them to eat a few things as healthy “snacks” between classes. Examples include: sandwiches filled with lean meats, egg salad or tuna salad, string cheese/cheese and crackers, yogurt, fruit/dried fruit, peanut butter, trail mix, etc. If all else fails, now is the time that you may wish to try to provide your child a nutritional supplement drink. I recommend getting one specifically made for children or Carnation Instant Breakfast. You can take this drink and add it to the blender and mix with frozen yogurt, frozen fruit and your child will likely not know that there is a “healthy” component to their milkshake!

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