Healthy weight-gainers for kids?



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sparkler22
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14 Aug 2009, 8:10 pm

My 12 YO ADHD/Aspie stepson weighs about 75 pounds. Ideally, he'd be around 90-110 for his age and frame.

Trouble is, most of the time, he has to take meds for the ADHD that cut his appetite severely. Whn he's not on the meds, he eats like a horse. Takes him 2 hours to eat a simple meal.

Are there any weight-gain supplements that it's healthy for a 12-year-old to take? Shakes, etc?

We're starting to get worried about stunted growth and so on. He's definitely one of the shrimpiest kids in his grade.



Nephesh
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14 Aug 2009, 9:02 pm

Stay away from anything containing soy protein. Soy produces estrogen which is certainly not what your stepson needs!

Any whey protein shake should be a safe addition to his diet, though the taste varies greatly between brands so you might find that he finds some of them unpalatable. Beware of those that are labeled "weight gainer" as often they are just very high in carbohydrates (often in the form of simple sugars) and you don't want to "fatten him up".

Obviously muscle gain is preferable to fat gain. You might consider coaching him in a bit of muscle building exercises. Since he is at an age group where there is a great deal of peer pressure and bullying, building muscle will help him with his self-confidence. Exercise can also help him gain control over any tendency towards awkwardness that he has. (I was an Aspie teen 40 years ago, I remember what it was like.)

You might Google "kettlebell exercises" for some fairly simple routines that you can adapt to supplies on hand. Fill old plastic detergent containers with water or sand for some simple weight for him to use. The simple swinging motion is easy to learn and will help him with posture, fine muscle control, etc.



Ravenclawgurl
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14 Aug 2009, 11:13 pm

as for shakes the safest for him would be pediasure http://pediasure.com/Products



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15 Aug 2009, 2:15 am

Eggs are a good choice since they're high protein and versatile. Whilst no longer recommended anyone consume raw egg (such as in Ovaltine malts with whole milk) those protein shakes are a good choice, like Ravenclawgurl wrote.

You could try Ensure (sp?) shakes (comes in cans) or even supplement with Slim-Fast shakes, as a snack.
Peanut butter is nutritious and highly caloric, very versatile too - would he like that? Same with dried fruits; concentrated nutrients.
Nuts of any kind would be a good choice, even sprinkling seeds on snacks (such as yogurts). You can add wheat-germ to cold cereals and nuts, raisins.

Any kinds of puddings, even 'full fat' yogurts, which can quite healthful, would be an easy to eat supplement.


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15 Aug 2009, 2:24 am

meat and potatoes.ukrainian sausage and perogies.Ukrainian Food tends to be healthy and at the same time, a good weight increaser.The ukrainians ate highly caloric food to keep up with their lifestyle in the Ukraine.


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Nephesh
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16 Aug 2009, 1:46 am

I would not recommend Pediasure or Ensure because both have way too much sugar. (It is the number 2 ingredient after water.) The soy protein and corn syrup they contain is also not very healthy. You want the boy to gain muscle tissue and not just store up the sugars as fat. I'm not saying eliminate carbohydrates all together or anything like that (the Atkins Diet system would come to mind). But you should choose complex carbohydrate sources rather than simple sugars. Beans and brown rice would be a good complex carbohydrate source that would give him both protein and fiber. Supplement that with a whey protein shake to drink and some good healthy vegetables and you have a fairly well balanced meal.

Simple sugars cause a spike in the insulin production. The pancreas wears out if it is overused, that is why we see so much diabetes in western culture where it was virtually unknown 100 years ago.

Yes, eggs are a good choice as would be the yogurt (which also is a great source of probiotics). The one caution on the yogurt though would be to check the amount of simple sugars. It will depend upon the brand and the flavor. You can let a little bit of simple sugar into the diet on meals that are heavy on fiber as the fiber will help slow down the uptake of the sugar. Also it is best if anything with sugar is scheduled in the morning or right after a heavy physical activity. A one time insulin uptake after weightlifting for example helps replenish the low blood sugar, and actually boosts the human growth factor hormones.



DW_a_mom
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16 Aug 2009, 7:14 pm

My 12 year old AS son weighs about the same, although we don't have any drugs in the mix to mess things up. Our pediatrician has been adamant about not worrying over it. Keep him eating a healthy range of foods, and let him be who he is supposed to be, is what we've been told. The problem when you try to mess with it is that you can create future obesity issues, because the natural instincts on when to eat and when to stop can turn off. I've battled that problem all my life (I was a small child with no apetite as well, apparently, and my parents practically force fed me).

What are the chances of stopping the drugs? Much of what manifests as ADHD can be sensory issues, with the ADHD symptons capable of going away once the environment is properly controlled. Has this been tried?

If you are sure the meds are needed, I would talk to his doctor about the diet issues before trying to make any major changes. I'm very cautious on this, because you don't want to solve issue A by creating issue B.


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Marcia
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16 Aug 2009, 7:30 pm

My son usually has a complan chocolate shake for breakfast which I make up with full fat milk.

He has always been small for his age - he was a low birth weight baby. He saw the dietician a couple of years ago and her advice was basically to ensure that he ate a balanced diet, and that we should try to get the maximum benefit from the small amounts that he did eat. So full-fat milk, butter, full-fat yoghurts etc. I do find it quite difficult sometimes to shop for him as so many foods are targetted at people who are trying to lose weight rather than gain, or even maintain it.

I was worried that he might get a taste for high calory foods and in later years would get too heavy, but the dietician reckoned that he was so active that that needn't be a concern. This was before we knew that he might be autistic, but he was always extremely active! And still is!



sparkler22
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17 Aug 2009, 10:28 am

Thank you everyone for your great and helpful suggestions.

We're thinking we're going to try some of those Pediasure shakes.. thing is.. he NEEDS more fat AND muscle. You can see his ribs, front and back, and his skinny little stick arms remind me of an Ethiopian. So, I don't think we have to worry too much about the fats and sugars, in his case.

As far as his current diet.. he does like peanut butter, and we get him to eat as much as we can. We also make sure that he diet is as varied and healthy as possible, while still trying to provide him with foods that he doesn't find to be totally repulsive. Were it up to him, he'd eat nothing but candy, gum, soda and McDonalds.. which is what started him on his lousy eating habits, when he lived with his mother. He's been with us for a few years now and we've managed to battle back much of the pickiness and unwillingness to try anything new. .. but it still remains that if he's not eating something that's essentially junk, it takes him a millenium to eat it. Give him McD's and it's gone in a flash.. even when he's on the meds! His therapist recommended that we cease reminding him continuously throughout the meal to keep eating and that when family mealtime is over, it's over for him too. No more sitting at the table for 2 hours to finish supper. The leftover gets wrapped up and re-served for the next meal. The hope is that he'll get tired of eating the leftovers and understand that a 12-YO should be able to eat at a relatively contiguous pace with the rest of the fam. We like it because it's way less stressful for us, not having to bark at him constantly to eat. But he doesn't seem to care about eating the leftovers next meal, and doesn't seem to care about not getting dessert when he doesn't finish his supper (which is better than half the time) and we're worried that he's getting even less to eat now!

We've tried over and over to get him to understand that even though his meds cut his appetite, he HAS to eat, for the sake of his health and growth. That doesn't seem to have any positive effect or motivate him to eat.



sparkler22
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17 Aug 2009, 10:35 am

DW, I posted before I read your response.

No doctors have advised us of that yet, but it sure is an idea that I like. It would be SO much easier for everyone! It's just so tough to fight against that natural instinct to want to see your child healthy! He tries to avoid physical activity and tires so easily.. I tell myself that at least he has color in his cheeks and no black circles under his eyes.. which wasn't the case when he lived with his mom.

And actually.... we do NOT know that his meds are the right thing for him at all. He was atarted on them at about 5 by his mother, without consulting with his dad (my DH). SS is actually going through testing and evaluation right now.. to find out what it really is we're dealing with here. He never had any "official" testing for the ADHD or Asperger's before.. just behavioral/observational kind of stuff. So, we'll see where that leads. I'm hopeful that we may learn some very helpful things.. especially in terms of what may be right for him as far as medication.



CRD
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17 Aug 2009, 10:44 am

The timing of when he eats will help put weight on him as well. He should be eating right before bed time it will put more pounds on him. I'd just let him have what he likes for the time being the rapping up what he doesn't eat and ploping it back down at the next meal never worked for anyone I know who has tried it. It sounds like the meds are causing the weight loss but they have found a link between eating disorders and autism. Just something to think about.



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