In today's society, there is a heavy focus on childhood obesity. As a result of the so-called "obseity-epidemic, mayors want to ban sugary drinks, weight loss shows are dominating television, the first lady revealed a new food "plate", and higher "snack taxes" are being imposed on people who buy certain food items.
But if you're in my situation, this makes you crazy-annoyed.
My daughter has cystic fibrosis. In order to keep her alive, we have to feed her a high-fat, high-calorie, high-salt diet. Bans and taxes feel like a punishment.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a healthy diet. I won't give my children soda, and we do our best to stay away from foods with artificial coloring. Fruit is a regular part of our diet. But if you open my pantry, you will find chips, Fritos, and cookies. If you peek in my freezer, you will be bombarded with ice cream. And in the fridge you are sure to find dip and whole fat milk. When I grocery shop, I check the labels to find the foods with the most fat and calories and I run away from the ones labeled "low-calorie, or fat-free"
If your child is struggling to gain weight due to a health issue, don't worry. Despite efforts to clear the grocery store shelves of all the foods our children need, there will always be ways to help our kids pack on those pounds they so desperately need.
1. Drink Supplements
On the market today are countless drink supplements to promote weight gain. Many are marketed towards body builders, but there are plenty (some even covered by insurance) that are perfect for children. In your grocery store, you're likely to find Carnation Instant Breakfast, which helped my daughter maintain a healthy weight (75th percentile is healthy in the CF world) during her toddler years. There's also the dense SCANDISHAKE, which is available in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. A new one, Opt2Thrive has only 9 ingredients but 630 calories, and is peanut butter flavored. Mixed with chocolate, it's like you're drinking a peanut butter cup. If your child is like mine and prefers juices, you can order Boost Breeze, which boasts 250 calories per juice box. Score!
The world will never get rid of butter, and it can be added to anything: veggies, bread, and macaroni. It's the perfect and most delicious way to add calories to your kid's food.
3. Olive Oil
A healthier option than butter, olive oil can be added to veggies or used as a dip for bread. Toss pasta in it before adding tomato sauce and your child will be getting extra fat and calories without having to add it to the rest of the family's meal.
Perfect as a cereal or topping for ice cream or yogurt, granola is fun, crunchy, delicious, and high in fat and calories. It's another staple of our society and healthier than sugary cereals.
Top your child's veggies with cheese or add extra slices to her sandwich. You can add it to boxed macaroni and cheese or just put in on some crackers for a snack. You can find varieties that are higher in fat and calories, and there are so many options that you're sure to find one your child loves.
6. McDonald's — Yes, McDonald's
McDonald's has made efforts to be healthier, and that's awesome. But they will always be a source of high-calorie, high-fat goodness for my child. Between the fries and the milkshakes, it's the one place I can be sure my child will finish her meal and get those greasy, salty calories in. McDonald's has seriously been a lifesaver for us when my daughter won't eat anythinfg else!
Many of our children struggle with weight, and require appetite enhancing medications and nightly tube feedings. They are an overlooked part of our society. I hope our country's battle with obesity won't negatively affect my daughter's knowledge that for her a "healthy" diet means lots of fat. In the meantime, keep packing in those calories and ignoring the stares in the restaurant when you top your child's ice cream with more ice cream.