Helping toddler gain weight on a vegan diet - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-11-2013, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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We recently (as in, within the last month) switched to a more plant based (vegan) whole foods diet for health reasons. Well, not sure if we can call ourselves vegans really as we do eat some low-mercury fish, very occasionally allow for pastured meat (as in about once a month)  and eggs (maybe once a week for dh and son as they love them, I don't eat them). Previously, we used to eat more of a primal/paleo type diet. My toddler (3.5) has had issues with being underweight for some time (he is in the 2nd percentile for the WHO chart). He was a couple weeks early and lower birthweight (5 pounds) but he caught up to his 10 pound cousin born at the same time and was a chunky baby until around 1 year or so when he just slowed down so much and never caught up to the curve. He is only 24-25 pounds and his height is pretty average. Anyway, we did make the switch to this diet because we believe it is more healthful and we can give our children a better nutritional start this way but my major concern is how to help my toddler gain weight without animal products. I feel there couldn't have been too much of an advantage for his weight gain with the way we were eating before because despite giving him full fat dairy, eggs, and pastured meat in plenty, he has not gained well. He also has anemia which we are dealing with, although this is partially hereditary in his case. I don't want to overdo soy although I am fine with it in moderation. His doctor recently suggested testing for celiac so we may do that soon to see if that could be contributing to the weight issues. In the mean time, what are some full-fat vegan foods I could give him to help him gain?


Oh, I should probably add he is NOT a picky eater at all and eats quite a bit/likes to eat constantly during the day. He just apparently has an insane metabolism.


Thank you!

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#2 of 6 Old 01-12-2013, 07:21 PM
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Coconut anything - oil, milk, flakes; nuts/nut butters; avocadoes; flax seeds mixed into smoothies or salads; cooking with olive oil.  We eat a similar diet, and DD is 14mos, 24lbs 30"...just starting to lose her baby chub on the legs from all the running she does, but she does really well on the minimal meat.  I only do organic/cage free/free range/grass fed for things like eggs, chicken, or the occasional steak, but the majority of our/her diet is plant based. 


Breakfast is usually a banana (or 2, she'd honestly eat them all day if I let her!) with organic peanut butter or sunbutter.  She's off grains at the moment while we clear up a mild oat intolerance but once she tests ok for that (hopefully by 18mos) I'll give her some sprouted grain toast with coconut butter - one of my faves. 


Lunch typically involves beans bc that is her other obsession - black beans, kidney beans, chick peas...she loves them all!  So for variety I mix in different veggies:  roasted brussel sprouts and flax seeds, avocado and tomatoes....yesterday she did try some leftover tuna with white beans and that was a hit.


Dinner, lately it's been soups and stews.  I use a lot of olive oil when I cook and earth balance brand 'butter'.  Coconut oil is great for cooking as well, I've been trying out some new crockpot Thai recipies which use a lot of the canned coconut milk and are great. 


And I hear you on the metabolism - I have a pretty high one, or so I thought until DD came along...there are days when I think she could out-eat a teenage boy! 

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#3 of 6 Old 01-12-2013, 07:31 PM
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Yes, coconut and avocado are great suggestions! I would also make sure he's getting a lot of oils in what you cook for him. Carbs might be a good thing to focus on, too. I'm also of the high-metabolism and almost vegan variety of human and only keep weight on when I'm eating a lot of carbs. Quinoa, millet, amaranth and oats are ones I would start with. Nuts, too. That's cool that he's not a picky eater!

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#4 of 6 Old 01-13-2013, 09:14 AM
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I was thinking smoothies as mentioned above - our doctor told us when our kids were not drinking enough water that people naturally drink more through a straw. So smoothie in a glass with a straw?

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#5 of 6 Old 01-20-2013, 12:32 AM
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ethical eater might be the label your looking for? anyway - if you are sticking to plant based try a tablespoon of flaxseed oil a day - avacado definately and coconut.  my dd loves tomatoes on toast drizzled with olive oil. so basically she gets 2 tablespoons of oil daily plus avacado - more than enough

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#6 of 6 Old 01-22-2013, 12:42 PM
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anyone in your family who was like toddler at that age? anyone in your family who is just ramrod thin and can never put on weight?


if he has been maintaining the 2 percent weight chart then he is ok. as long as he is a normal kid - runs around, not tired (how does the anemia fit that?), lots of energy - i dont see why you should worry. esp. if it is genetic.


eating a lot of fat just to put on weight is not a good habit at all. it sets him up for failure later on as he gets used to a lot of fat in the diet and will miss it if it is missing. esp. be wary of this if heart disease or high blood pressure or cholestrol runs in your family.


i think its a good idea to check on other health issues that could be going on. like you are checking for celiacs. or even dairy allergy. both of those can make a person very thin or very fat.


what is your cultural heritage. i have discovered in this country - even here in my very diverse california - most doctors look at all babies as the same and freak out small statured families whose children are smaller or average height and lighter.


btw nuts and seeds are very high in fat too. so peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, etc.

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