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Old 04-15-2014, 07:51 PM   #1
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Underweight teen - any ideas?

Hi, My son is 16 years old, high-functioning autism, no medical issues. He eats everything in sight and is 5' 9 1/2" and weighs 111 lbs. He doesn't like most sweets, fatty foods. Loves pizza, spaghetti with meatballs, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple, lean meats, and the occasional chocolate chip cookies, "goldfish crackers", blueberry pie and pumpkin pie.

He's very physically active with seemingly high metabolism. Is there a form of low-carb that might be good for him, to gain a bit of weight, while being healthy?

Is 5'9 1/2" 111 really that bad? His ped would like him to gain "a few pounds"

Thanks for your feedback?
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:11 PM   #2
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It sounds like he simply needs lots and lots of healthy foods. It's probably just his age and activity level. My husband was 115 pounds at 15, but he soon began to grow. He was quite thin at 17, but by 22, his shoulders and upper body had filled out. I think sometimes it just takes a lot longer for males to mature. All the guys I went to high school with were very thin unless they trained with weights a lot. If he is interested in weight training, he could definitely bulk up on a high-protein plan. He would likely need to add several higher calorie protein shakes to his menu each day. That alone might be enough to help him gain some weight without working out.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:43 PM   #3
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I take it that new or different foods can be a problem? I know that some kids with that spectrum of disorders can be difficult or picky eaters.

If he only accepts a limited menu, then try upping the fat content of things he will eat. You could probably hide extra coconut oil in pie filling and add a dollop of lard to the crust. Frying things might help in the meat department and adding cheese or other toppings to pizza will add a few calories. Also try having nibbles on hand so he can snack.

If he's not a picky eater, focus on foods/snacks that naturally high in fats. You probably know what works well given you're already low carbing.

My only other suggestions is to try to limit grains as they have a reputation of causing havoc with the brain. Grain Brain is an interesting read. Ketogenic diets in general have a good reputation for improving mental function, although I've not read anything specifically related to autism.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:54 PM   #4
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Would he be interested in any sort of weight lifting? Adding more muscle would put some pounds on him. My 14 year old is in a weight lifting/conditioning class. He has gained about 15 pounds this year and went down a pant size.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:26 AM   #5
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Thanks so much! Alexander is a runner, also a figure skater. Not particularly interested in weightlifting, though we have some smaller weights at home, maybe he could do some reps with them.

I like the idea of the coconut oil, that way he hopefully wouldn't know about some of the extra calories.

He doesn't like milkshakes (protein shakes?) at all. Hates the texture. He is very sensitive to certain tastes/smells.

Thanks again - great ideas!
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:40 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by sk8termom View Post
Thanks so much! Alexander is a runner, also a figure skater. Not particularly interested in weightlifting, though we have some smaller weights at home, maybe he could do some reps with them.

I like the idea of the coconut oil, that way he hopefully wouldn't know about some of the extra calories.

He doesn't like milkshakes (protein shakes?) at all. Hates the texture. He is very sensitive to certain tastes/smells.

Thanks again - great ideas!
Ahhh, he is a runner! You might want to tell him that lifting weights will actually improve his fitness and help his body retain needed muscle mass. If he is a long-distance runner, in particular, muscle wasting can result. Even if he eats ample calories. Adding weight training can help lots. Also, protein bars are an option also. There are a few out there that are quite good. While not very low carb, power crunch is one that comes to mind. Reminds me of a kit-kat. Pretty tasty. So tasty, I don't keep them in the house.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:52 AM   #7
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My daughter is underweight, and a picky eater. She's 14, and just last weekend we had a heart to heart about her nutrition, as she wants to gain weight but is an athlete and has ADD, which she takes med for during the school day. She has a super fast metabolism.

Right now we are focusing on dairy fat, and I'm not enforcing low carbs with her. She doesn't seem to have too many issues with food, allergies or otherwise, other than the fact that she loves junk! But I think she's finally realizing that when she eats well, she feels better and she gains weight. She's making an effort to eat everything I cook, which is so nice, and I make her a frappe every night before bed, with ice cream, whole milk, and heavy cream. I also have her drinking Ensure nutritional drinks for breakfast, as she doesn't like to eat right out of bed. I know they're not the very best thing for her, but I figure it's better than nothing, and it's a source of calories for her.

I agree that you should try to slip in good fat where you can...butter on everything, coconut oil in smoothies, shakes, pies...
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:45 PM   #8
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I'm going to give a little different perspective, and take it with a grain of salt as it's solely based on my own experience.

My senior year in High School, I was 5'9" and 106 pounds. I ate anything and everything, but could not gain weight. My mother, under the advice of a doctor, had me start drinking Ensure with and between meals for the added calories. I was also put on birth control pills. I gained to a healthy 130 pounds.

Fast forward a few years, into my early 20's, and I started gaining weight on not much food. I struggled for years with trying to stay thin and finally gave up, getting up to nearly 300 pounds. In hindsight, I really think it was because my mother and doctor mucked around with my naturally high metabolism. To this day, I think it would have been better if they'd just left me alone, as long as I was eating regularly and was otherwise healthy, if thin.

I know it was done out of love and concern, but I really think it screwed up my metabolism. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:07 AM   #9
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My 16 yo DD is 5'6 and about 97 lbs. She wants to gain a little weight so she can donate blood but she wants to gain muscle, not fat. So I told her to ride her bike and workout on the wii this summer. Her diet is mostly junk. I just hope it doesn't backfire on her. I have tried to get her to cut back on the sugar but she don't listen to me. She'd rather go without eating as to eating healthy. so many times she's gone to bed without eating dinner because she doesn't wanna cook anything.
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeirasMom View Post
I'm going to give a little different perspective, and take it with a grain of salt as it's solely based on my own experience.

My senior year in High School, I was 5'9" and 106 pounds. I ate anything and everything, but could not gain weight. My mother, under the advice of a doctor, had me start drinking Ensure with and between meals for the added calories. I was also put on birth control pills. I gained to a healthy 130 pounds.

Fast forward a few years, into my early 20's, and I started gaining weight on not much food. I struggled for years with trying to stay thin and finally gave up, getting up to nearly 300 pounds. In hindsight, I really think it was because my mother and doctor mucked around with my naturally high metabolism. To this day, I think it would have been better if they'd just left me alone, as long as I was eating regularly and was otherwise healthy, if thin.

I know it was done out of love and concern, but I really think it screwed up my metabolism. Just my 2 cents.
Thanks for this. I am very concerned that if I do too much to help my daughter gain it will backfire on her when she's older. Our families are not known for our high metabolisms; we're not obese or anything, but all struggle with those extra pounds later in life.
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Old 04-24-2014, 08:37 AM   #11
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Some kids are just skinny too. My DD is 10 and has always been 10th percentile on the weight curve. She has been there since she was a year old and is consistently there. Pediatrician doesn't worry as long as she doesn't drop below 10th percentile.

Look at your child's curve over the long run. If they have always been thin, they are probably fine and don't need to gain any weight. If they had a sudden change, is it do to a huge growth spurt or a change in activity? Their bodies probably need to catch up if that is the case.
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