12 Foods That Support Weight Gain

Kids on chemotherapy or facing other health challenges can lose weight rapidly. When this is your reality, every bite that they can get down needs to be jam-packed with calorie dense, nourishing food. Nausea and food aversions can make moms feel exasperated but no matter how picky your eater, there are lots of ways to increase calories.

I remember the first week after my son’s diagnosis. They kept telling me that if he hit a certain threshold of weight loss that they would have to use an NG tube to give him extra calories. I remember being really, really upset by this. He had so many procedures that required fasting for a majority of the day, it was like I barely had time to get food in him. He was also refusing most of the hospital food. Add in a good measure of vomiting and we were heading towards trouble. It was at that point that I realized I had to step up and heavily supplement his diet in order to sneak in as many calories as possible. It went totally counter to my mom brain to be *trying* to fatten my child up but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Kids undergoing a lot of medical stress need high quality fats & proteins supported by whole, unprocessed carbohydrates. In other words: the opposite of hospital food.

One of the primary tactics I used was to hide foods in other foods. Maybe all your child wants to eat are fruit smoothies. Instead of blending just milk and fruit, add a cup of cream. Or if all she wants is PB&J, spread butter on the bread before you add the peanut butter and add some honey along with the jelly.

Here is list of the most calorie dense, natural foods that you can feel good about giving your kids.

  • Avocado: It has a mild flavor that is easy to mask and provides a good serving of healthy monounsaturated fats. Add some slices to a turkey sandwich, make some guacamole dip for chips, blend a half into a milkshake or chocolate pudding (yes, really!).
  • Butter & Cream: These are a wonderful source of calories and fat with one caveat: use butter and cream from grass fed cows. The fat composition is different, the animals are healthier and the resulting product is more nourishing. So whether it’s “organic” or not, be sure it’s from pastured or grass-fed cows. Butter and cream are great to sneak into every day cooking. Sautee all your vegetables in butter, add it to noodles, toast and sandwiches. You can use cream in place of milk in many recipes or cut it half with milk.
  • Eggs: Whole eggs from free range chickens are very nutritious. The fat profile and nutrient content is completely different from conventionally raised eggs. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to egg labeling. You want eggs from chickens that are allowed free access to pasture, eat the bugs found naturally in their environment and are offered non-gmo, non-soy feed to supplement their diet.
  • Cheese & yogurt: In our family we love full fat greek yogurt with blueberries and granola. Cheese can also be a good choice when sourced from grass fed cows.
  • Nuts & Seeds: Nutrient dense and easy to munch! Our favorites are almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds without the shell), brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds.
  • Oils: Olive oil and coconut oil are my go-to choices for health and calories.
  • Coconut: A power food if ever there was one. Full fat coconut milk can be made into ice cream, whipped and put on fruit, added to smoothies or used to make curry.
  • Nutritional Supplements & Protein powders: Using a nutritional supplement is sometimes necessary and when it is try to use the highest quality one. I personally prefer PediaSmart by Nature’s One because it is organic, non GMO, gluten free, corn free and has no artificial colors or flavors. If your child doesn’t need a full nutritional supplement you can also use a protein powder mixed in with smoothies. I like Biochem’s 100% Whey in Vanilla because it is sweetened with evaporated cane juice and has no artificial colors or flavors.

photo credit: threelayercake via photopin cc

About Emily

Hi, my name is Emily. I’m a wife, mother, christian, momcologist, doula, writer, nerd, entrepreneur and dreamer. I like Apple products, chocolate, books, lists, being pregnant and the color purple. I fancy myself as a quirky combination of dreamy Anne Shirley and feisty Scarlett O’Hara but in a schizophrenic sort of way. Read on...


  1. Another great post, Em! Just so it’s easier to find them at the store – what are your favorite brands of butter & eggs? I feel like the packaging is so confusing (particularly on eggs) so I’d love pointers on which brands to spot quickly. Again, thanks for all you do! xoxo

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