Childhood obesity has increased over the past decade across the world, but India is one of the few countries where there is a great percentage of underweight children. It is not just the underprivileged even those children that are well-taken care of are underweight. Read below to know more on how to tackle this with a healthy weight gain diet plan for kids.
What is a Healthy Weight Gain Diet Plan?
The biggest challenge most parents face with kids of all ages is to ensure that their kids eat right. By that it means consuming nutritious food in the right quantity. But with the busy schedule of parents monitoring of food intake becomes tough because of which the child may become underweight. However, the development of each kid is varied while some kids remain underweight despite having nutritious food. As a parent, you should be concerned about it when there is no weight gain as per age or the kid is physically not active. It is vital to get your child checked at regular intervals to ensure that the growth phase of the kid is utilized properly. If your child is underweight a healthy weight gain diet plan that is rich in all food categories should be incorporated so that they are active and healthy.
Foods to include in a Weight Gain Diet Plan
A weight gain diet should include the following food categories:
It is one of the most essential weight gain foods for kids of all ages from 1 to 18. They are a good source of many vital nutrients like calcium and Vitamins like A, D, B12, B1, and B2. Since it has a high amount of calcium it aids in the growth and development of bones. Lack of calcium in diet makes the body absorb it from the bones to meet its needs. Hence calcium needs must be met daily to help in the growth and development of the kids. Not just kids, it is also a good weight gain food for adults too. Some of the daily products are:
Fruits and Vegetables
Another important weight gain food for kids that are needed in abundance are fruits and vegetables. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and water content and a child should have at least five portions of these in their weight gain food diet plan. These are also ideal weight gain foods for adults too as it has fewer calories. Though there are many types of fruits and vegetables all offering unique benefits some of the useful ones for weight gain diet plans for kids are:
- Banana: It is among the top weight gain foods as they are a rich source of energy and contain a healthy dose of carbohydrates which are needed in a diet plan for kids. A banana has around 100 calories making it a great snack for active kids or those that lack energy. Moreover, it is a versatile fruit and can be had in the form of desserts, milkshakes, salads, etc. Additionally, it is among the pocket-friendly foods to increase baby weight. It is the best fruit for weight gain.
- Potatoes: It is an ideal vegetable to include in the diet chart for children as it contains carbs that can convert to energy in the form of glucose. When the glucose is unused in the body it becomes fat and that leads to weight gain. Hence it is included in the weight gain diet. Apart from carbs, it is also rich in amino acids and dietary fibre which aids in digestion. The best part of this vegetable is that kids love it in the form of mashed potatoes or stir fry added with a dash of seasoning. A variant of the potato, the sweet potato is also healthy and can be part of the weight gain diet plan.
This is another important weight gain food for kids as it provides the needed nutrients and also provides energy for their everyday play and other activities. Foods that are made from grains are a good source of carbohydrates and fibre which help in the overall development of the body. Some of the grains are also sources of minerals; like iron, magnesium, and selenium. Vitamins like Thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folate. Important weight gain foods made using grains are:
Lean Meat and Beans
Meat, fish, poultry, beans, and peas are an important part of the weight gain diet plan as they are rich in proteins, vitamins, and iron. Proteins, the building blocks of the body, are essential nutrients. They are needed for the growth, repair of the muscles, and various functions. The amount of protein that is needed depends on the age and weight of the child. On average, a child needs 1gm of protein per kg they weigh. These foods are also rich in iron and which helps to prevent anaemia, lack of energy, and its related conditions. Meat alternatives are mushrooms, soya beans, beans, and milk.
Fat should not be looked down upon in the weight gain diet plan. If you look at the healthy food chart for kids, fats play an important role. It helps in the development of the brain and also in the overall growth and development. It energies the body and also helps to absorb vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Foods that contain healthy fats as per leading nutritionist balanced diet chart for kids are:
- Seeds like pumpkin seeds
- Coconut Oil
- Mustard Oil
- Olive Oil
- Soya bean
Sample Weight Gain Diet Plan
Many healthy recipes can be incorporated as per your child’s age and taste. Here is a sample weight gain diet plan with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options that can be modified as per requirements:
- Wake up: A glass of milk along with soaked and peeled almonds (toddlers mash the almonds) should be part of the diet chart for kids as it is wholesome food.
- Breakfast: Milk with cereals, omelette with toast, scrambled egg, oatmeal, vegetable Upma or Poha, whole-wheat bread sandwich, Dalia with milk or vegetable Cheela. If your kid has a sweet tooth Rava Halwa with Almonds is also a good option.
- Lunch: 1 Chapati with ghee, dal, or side dishes like Paneer curry, vegetable rice like Pulao, Paratha with sabzi, or Vegetable Paratha. Non-veg lunch can be chicken curry with chapati, vegetable pulao, rice with fish curry, or chicken biryani. Lassi with seasonal fruits.
- Snack: Banana milkshake as it is the best fruit for weight gain, sweet potato fries, fresh fruit salad, trail mix, peas cutlet, or a fruit juice.
- Dinner: Chapati with veg gravy or chicken curry, chicken or vegetable pasta, vegetable Khichdi, rice with dal, Vegetable pulao with raita or egg curry, or egg noodles.
- Bedtime: A glass of warm milk
Tips for a Healthy Weight Gain Diet Plan
- Start with a healthy breakfast as the kids need a lot of energy to cope with the busy schedule of school, playtime, extracurricular activities, and homework. To help them keep up the energy all through the day they must have a healthy breakfast with a combination of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.
- Whether you are an adult who is doing a workout to reduce belly fat, weight loss exercises, Yoga for weight loss, or have a kid who is underweight and on a weight gain diet, including healthy fats that come from oils and nut butter is important. So include that in your weight gain diet plan.
- Encourage kids to have fresh fruits and vegetables. Add peanut butter for a better taste on fruits like apples to encourage fussy kids to eat. Make a banana or Chiku milkshake with peanut butter to increase fatty foods for babies to gain weight.
- Make oatmeal, pudding, etc with milk instead of water.
- Add cheese, ghee, or butter to your kid’s favourite food to increase calories.
Apart from having a healthy weight gain diet plan, keep the kid active with regular playtime. Despite all your efforts if the weight gain does not happen, talk to your childcare provider to see if there are any underlying health problems.