Adding Fat and Calories
One of the biggest concerns when children are on a restricted diet is making sure they get the fat and calories they need to grow properly.
Kids on restricted diets often eat much healthier than comparable kids with no restrictions. They are often eating many more fruits and vegetables and FAR fewer processed foods from the grocery stores and restaurants. However, "healthier" for grown-ups generally means less fat and fewer calories. But, for growing kids, eating "healthier" may mean MORE fat and MORE calories. This is especially true between the ages of 1 and 2, when brain development requires a higher level of fat and calories (and calories from fat) than in other years.
Most kids easily meet these requirements through kid staples like cheese, peanut butter, yogurt, dairy milk. But when those options aren't available, we have to be more creative about making sure their nutritional needs are met. This is where the "good" of food allergies comes in. It has forced me to become more knowledgeable about nutrition to make sure my son is getting all the elements of a healthy diet despite his dietary restrictions.
Keep an ongoing dialogue with your pediatrician about your child's diet and growth. One resource I have found especially helpful is a program called My Fitness Pal. It is available online and also as a smartphone application. It is designed as a weight-loss resource, but I have used it to track my son's eating habits to identify how much fat and calories he was taking in, as well as whether or not he was getting the required nutrients like calcium and iron. It is not a perfect way of doing so and there are probably other similar resources out there, but it does give you a fairly simple way of tracking foods. It does take a little finagling to work for a child (for example, its percentages for vitamins and minerals are tracked on a 2000 calorie, adult diet) so you with have to do a little math to adjust it down to a child's nutrient needs.
If you need to add fat and calories to your child's diet, here are some options:
Avocado -- My kids eat this plain or mixed in oatmeal. You could also make guacamole.
Sunbutter -- Great source of protein
Dairy-free Butters -- Mix with veggies or in pan frying
Oils -- Use it to pan fry veggies
Trail Mix -- use seeds like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and check out my trail mix recipe
Coconut Milk (the canned versions contain as much as 15g of fat per serving. We use a teaspoon in oatmeal and have also used it to make ice cream).
When all else fails, throw a bunch of things into a smoothie and it will feel like dessert! Try this smoothie recipe: Click here
All of the following products are highly nutritious and do not affect the taste of items they are mixed in. I mix them in smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, etc. Anything that can be eaten with a spoon. They can also be mixed in baked goods like muffins or breads. They are very high in fiber though so use them in moderation to avoid tummy problems for the little ones. Click here for a blog post that goes into detail about these products.
- Hemp Seed
- Chia Seed
- Wheat Germ (can use to replace flour in a baked good recipe, I use no more than 1/4 cup)
- Ground Flax Seed
- Nutritional Yeast