By Judy Davie
"My stepson has been told by his doctor he is underweight. What can we do to help him put on weight? Are there particular foods that will put 'meat on his bones'?"
Some overly lean people have a very efficient, speedy metabolism and simply can't gain weight even when they eat a lot. Generally they will gain weight with age when their metabolism slows.
As long as your stepson is eating a well-balanced diet and eats regularly every three hours or so, except of course when he's sleeping, he will be fine.
The basic principles of a healthy well-balanced diet apply for someone who's underweight and for someone who's overweight. What differs is the quantity of food they eat.
A well-balanced diet includes five serves of vegetables, two serves of fruit, a balance of complex carbohydrates including wholegrain bead, pasta, noodles, rice and other grains, lean protein from chicken, meat and eggs and good fat from nuts, seeds, avocado, oils, oily fish and peanut butter.
Good fats are high in energy so if he likes them, load them on. Pour olive oil over his vegetables and spread extra peanut butter on his toast. Pack nuts for snacks and spread avocado on crackers and bread in sandwiches. The negative connotations associated with the word fat simply don't apply with these good fats. They are rich in antioxidants and contain numerous beneficial fat soluble nutrients essential for good health.
Protein is essential for cellular growth and to build muscle, as muscle is heavier than fat you should make sure in each meal there is sufficient protein.
In your stepson's case there's no need to reduce the fat content from dairy, so serve him full-fat dairy in milk with cereal, cheese and yoghurt.
The following is a very healthy example of a day's intake for a 15-year-old boy. As you can see from the table below, in many instances it exceeds the RDI of nutrients set out by the Australian Government Nutritional Health and Medical Research Council.
cold milk (whole milk)
2 slices wholegrain toast
2 teaspoons peanut butter
1 glass orange juice
2 sandwiches made with 4 slices wholegrain bread, ½ avocado, 2 slices ham, 30g cheese, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, tomato and lettuce.
small handful cashews
120g fillet steak
1 cup cauliflower in cheese sauce
1 medium roast potato
½ cup carrots
10 green beans
2 scoops vanilla ice-cream
1 cup milo made with whole milk
|Average recommended intake for boys aged between 14 and 18 years ||RDI ||Daily intake from the sample day's plan |
|Protein ||65g ||100g|
|Dietary fibre ||28g ||33g|
|Thiamin ||½mg ||2.4mg|
|Riboflavin ||1.3mg ||2.5mg|
|Niacin ||16mg ||22mg|
|Folate ||400mg ||447mg|
|Vitamin A ||900mg ||2094mg|
|Vitamin C ||40mg ||246mg|
|Calcium ||1300mg ||1320mg|
|Zinc ||13mg ||15mg|
|Iron ||11mg ||16mg|
|Magnesium ||410mg ||472mg|