My 11 year old is underweight and suffers from headaches. He says he gets full quickly though. How can I help him eat more?
Weight is unique to each individual. So when parents are concerned about their adolescent’s weight in comparison to other adolescents, it’s not necessarily warranted. Your adolescent is following his unique trajectory!
However, if your adolescent’s weight has dropped, hasn’t progressed as expected (as tracked on their growth chart), or has other physical signs (like headaches, poor concentration, thinning hair, etc.) that they’re not meeting their nutritional needs, that is a concern.
When helping adolescents increase their food intake, it’s helpful to look at their eating schedule. I’ll often see adolescents with no schedule who snack throughout the day (i.e., “graze”) and never truly feel hunger or fullness. When adolescents have a rough eating schedule, they eat better and more. With a sit down and predictable meal and snack schedule, adolescents eat more nutritional variety, and as they’ve fully developed their hunger, they eat more until they’re fully satisfied. Read more here on the benefits of having a meal schedule.
Changing up the times and types of food can help your adolescent feel better, though it may or may not affect his weight.
Try creating a loose schedule and see how it goes!