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Parents of ADHD Children

Tips for Diet to Gain Weight

Hi All, I’m new here. My 6 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD a year and a half ago, and we started him on methylphenidate several months ago, and it seems to be helping.  We just switched him to the time-release version since he started 1st grade yesterday. 
I’m looking for some suggestions on getting him to eat.  His weight dipped a bit at his last checkup and his doc suggested a milkshake with whole milk afterschool along with a big breakfast.  Unfortunately, he’s not a milkshake fan!  He does however, LOVE fruit smoothies, but I’m not sure what to add to boost his calorie intake.  Any suggestions?
Thanks so much!


Full fat greek yogurt. Silken tofu if he has no issues with soy. Chia seeds are great too but they will start to congeal if he doesn’t drink the smoothie right away and that could be a texture issue for kids. You could probably add protein powder too.

Posted by brlk13 on Aug 01, 2014 at 2:08am

We are fighting the same battle. My son doesn’t like milkshakes or smoothies, but he loves pediasure drinks. He drinks one at breakfast and one with dinner every day. He also eats full fat yogurt, a cup per day.  He loves peanut butter and crackers and grilled cheese sandwiches so we encourage him to eat as many “healthy snacks” between meals as he wants.  One of our biggest issues is that he’s a picky eater, no rice, no potatoes (not even French fries - doesn’t like the texture), vegetables? No way (we sneak puréed veggies into foods like meatballs), etc. 

Our son also takes a time- released med. He lost so much weight in 2nd grade that we decided half way through the year to take medication vacations on the weekends, during any days off and summer vacation. He gained 4 lbs from Feb-Jun just taking weekends off. To be honest, playing sports on weekends was tough without meds, but the weight gain was more important.

He struggles a bit at camp this summer with hyperactivity, but the folks there have been great. Since mid- June, he’s gained 6 lbs and is back to his prior 80th percentile height and weight for his age. We’re pushing for another 6 lbs before school starts in September so there’s a little room available if he loses weight when we start meds again.

To be clear, we’ve been working on this in conjunction with his pediatrician and psychiatrist. We reviewed a plan, they both gave us some ideas, and they’ve been monitoring his progress every 2 months.  We’re sort of making this up as we go along based upon his needs, and the progress he’s making, but with sound medical advice.

Best of luck.

Posted by DP0706 on Aug 01, 2014 at 2:46am

There’s a lot you can do to help counteract appetite loss and subsequent weight loss. Add protein powder to his smoothies—the more calories the better. Try to keep the sugar down though—the fruit already has plenty. If you can add full fat yogurt or milk to the smoothie that will help too.

Also, make sure he is eating a lot when he is hungry and you allow him to eat when he wants too, if if it’s right after dinner or right before bed. Stock full-fat, full-calorie versions of the foods he likes.

There are more tips in the following articles too:

When my son was younger and loosing weight between every meds checkup, his doctor prescribed Cyproheptadine to stimulate his appetite. It’s an old allergy medication. It worked great and my son got back to his original weight and then kept gaining at an appropriate pace for his size. Now that he’s older (11) he doesn’t need it any more. That is something you can discuss with your doctor as well.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 01, 2014 at 1:34pm

I have tried Pediture and Boost my son did not like them. I make him shakes using the Breakfast Carnation powder and he really likes them.

Posted by mdasch on Aug 01, 2014 at 5:38pm

If he likes smoothies that’s great.  Coconut milk, powder or Skim milk powder can add protein and calories.  You can try adding canola oil as well, but you might have better luck using a bit of soy lecithin so it won’t separate. Will he eat nuts? Trail mix is pretty high in calories as well. We’ve had to relent with our son too, and now give drinking boxes (juice was a special treat before).  He loves pediasure too.

Another tactic is making high calorie “cookies” or muffins. Add extra butter/fat/skim milk powder, nuts and raisins.

Posted by DoseyWosie on Aug 01, 2014 at 7:04pm

Following this thread…in same boat with my son losing weight.

My husband and I were both thin as kids and my son has been thin since he began walking - always in 25% for weight and between 25-50% for height.

My son started meds at age 8 and we’ve been battling the weight thing with all the tips like allowing grazing in eve, late night snacks, big breakfasts, whole milk/butter/protein powder sneak-in’s, etc. He’s now 11 and these strategies have helped hold his weight in 25% for a long time but the past year we’re loosing our foothold. He slipped down to 10% and at his last check-up in July he was in THIRD PERCENTILE. Kind of freaking out inside. He hates to be thin and I feel for him. He’s going into 7th grade this fall and doesn’t want to be tiny.

My son takes Vyvanse in mornings and during school year he takes a 5 mg generic adderall IR booster in afternoon to get him through end of school day and homework time. During summer he is fine w/o the booster.

At this recent appointment his doc encouraged us to give a summer med break a try to boost weight…ummm…it was a nightmare! For the whole family. He was a hot mess. Sorry if that sounds mean, but seriously our home was so chaotic. I held out for only 3 full days and he said, “Mom, this experiment is NOT working. I want to gain weight but I cannot even function!” In fact, he was so unfocused (he called it “wiggly”) he couldn’t even really eat! So, no benefit! He had zero attention span and zero impulse control for at least the first 3/4 of each day. He was more calm in evenings, but honestly I think it was that he wore himself out! I was actually really alarmed at how rough it was off meds. A well meaning friend told me we should have stuck it out longer. That it would have gotten better after pushing past ‘rebound’ behavior. I’m not sure. Feel guilty either way. He wants to gain weight but I know he was miserable feeling so “wiggly” and out of control.

I’m intrigued by the idea of an appetite stimulant. Penny, did your son have any side effects with Cyproheptadine? I looked it up quickly on an rx description site and saw it also may help with sleep? I wish my son’s doc had mentioned this possibility as weight and sleep are our toughest challenges.

Gosh, sorry I wrote so much. Not my intention to hijack thread :(.

Posted by BCMomma on Aug 01, 2014 at 8:36pm

You can try, if you have time in the morning, letting him eat breakfast - whatever he likes - and then take medication.  Also make sure to pack things you know he will eat in his lunch.  Even though the meds take away appetite my daughter will pretty much always eat fruit snacks so I make sure she always has one in lunch.  Often that is the only thing that is eaten…

And make sure that he is getting exercise in the afternoon so that he can build an appetite.  I know it seems like counter intuitive - you don’t want him losing more through exercise!  But if his body is needing nourishment he will eat.  My daughter usually eats dinner well after her dance class, not so much on other days.  And you can make sure you are timing meds and dinner right so that he will actually be hungry for dinner.  And always something he likes on his plate - my daughter likes rice so we have it often and usually I can get her to eat a bite of chicken or whatever else if she wants seconds of rice.

Posted by YellaRyan on Aug 01, 2014 at 11:02pm


My son had to take a low dose of Cyproheptadine or it negatively affected mood. At that low dose, I don’t think it made him sleepy, but he took it at dinner. He takes Melatonin each night to help him fall asleep.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 04, 2014 at 1:47pm

We had a good experience with adding the prescription drug Periactin (Cyproheptadine) to the Concerta my son was already taking..  He is still skinny, but in the year after starting Periactin he gained 23 pounds.  The year before that he gained zero.  No side effects that we have noticed other than increased appetite.

Might be worth discussing with your doctor.  Ours was only vaguely aware of Periactin and had to look into it before he would approve it on a trial basis.

Posted by Trachten on Aug 04, 2014 at 2:30pm

My son’s not on meds but he’s scrawny so this is a topic of interest for me as well smile

Greek yogurt goes over well with both my kids, as does peanut butter and cheese.

I’ve made protein shakes for them in the past but am somewhat cautious about this as too much protein can be hard on their kidneys. This is straight from our pediatrician: she flat out said that protein powder is an adult product and shouldn’t be used for kids. She says that real food is better, and while in theory I agree, it can be difficult getting enough into them. Worth noting is that diabetics often have kidney issues relating to the fact that they eat more protein to stabilize their blood sugar (a relative of mine recently had a kidney transplant, so I speak from personal experience).

Quinoa is an awesome source of protein smile smile  ...the only problem is that it’s kind of high maintenance in that it needs to be cooked before you eat it. Chia, on the other hand, it easily digested and absorbed by our bodies even when it’s raw, and has about 3 to 4 g of protein per TBSP. I add Chia to lots of stuff - it’s very convenient and nutritious. Mind you, quinoa can be cooked and eaten for breakfast as a hot cereal similar to porridge, so it’s feasible as well.

Sorry. Got off track… this thread is about weight gain in general, not just protein, lol.

A trick used by another ADHD mom I know (and me too) is to pack those yogurt drinks in school lunches, mainly because they’re QUICK. Just a couple of swigs and your child has 100+ calories in him/her with plenty of time to spare to eat more lunch.

You mentioned your son loves fruit smoothies… what about adding coconut oil? It’s supposedly pretty healthy, and you could check with your doc as to what a safe amount would be.

Best of luck smile

Posted by OopsForgotAgain on Aug 06, 2014 at 5:08am

My son had the same issues when on concerta. He wrestles and was losing waight fast. my husband found Eggwhites internatonal. Body builders use it but we where told about it from another wrestling parent with an ADHD kid and there is a testamonial on their website about a little boy who is fighting… I believe ms? and couldn’t keep weight on and after starting to put the egg white in his diet he started to gain more weight in 3 months that he did in a year (or something like that, it has been awhile since I read it). we use it all the time and it has helped keep my sons weight steady for over a year. he was no longer losing.

I think it is worth looking into! Has no taste so you could add it to the smoothies or milk like we do!

Good luck!!!

Posted by lovemyshredder on Sep 30, 2014 at 2:06am

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