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Counting Calories for Kids

I’ve spent the better part of a week counting calories. Not for me. For Little Girl. I hate it will all my being.

I brought her along last Friday to her sister’s sick visit. While we were there I decided to stick her on the scale. It read about the same as it did two months ago when I got chastised for her poor weight gain. Then I stuck her under the measuring stick. Uh-oh. She was about the same size. Drat.

We have a well visit today so I decided that I would spend the week tracking her food intake and making sure she was getting the recommended 1,000 to 1,400 calories a day. Surprise, surprise! She wasn’t. Once I figured that out I became a strict food task master. Little Girl was going to eat. And a lot.

I went to the supermarket with a goal: Find healthy, calorie-rich items to add to Little Girl’s diet. I found cottage cheese with pineapple, rice pudding, Stonyfield Farm’s Yogurt Meals (yogurt with fruit and veggies mixed right in), and whole wheat bagels that I could slather with plenty of full-fat cream cheese. And I also renewed my commitment to get her to drink at least 16 ounces of whole milk, which adds a whopping 320 calories to her daily total. And so the fattening up began.

It’s been a tough week. I hate writing down everything my little one eats. I hate worrying that she’s not getting enough sustenance. Yesterday, though, she ate 1,400 calories. The biggest help has been strapping her into her high chair. For a while she kept begging to sit in a real chair like her big sister. But the real chair was too easy for her. It was a distraction, and I often ended up chasing her around the house — she’s so fast and headstrong. Now, she sits and eats and doesn’t get up. And as much as she likes to tell me, “I do it, Mommy. I do it,” I am the one feeding her. Yes, she can hold her own spoon and fork, but I’m right there shoveling it in in between her baby bites, laughing and pretending to feed her baby.

The sickest part of this is something my husband pointed out to me. Yes, my kid wasn’t eating enough, but if she was eating the equivalent amount of a typical toddler’s diet she’d probably be gaining. Three ounces of strawberries has far fewer calories than three ounces of McDonald’s french fries. Also, the Mighty Bites she eats for breakfast don’t have the same number of calories, for example, as Cinnamon Toast Crunch. One cup of Mighty Bites is 100 calories. There are 130 calories in 3/4 of a cup of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The Trader Joe’s frozen waffles she likes have 100 calories. Eggo waffles, filled with artificial flavors have 190 calories. How much does that SUCK? My kid isn’t gaining weight like the rest of the world because I don’t feed her crap. So unfair.

I wouldn’t change our diet, though, so now there’s nothing else to do but keep our fingers crossed. The doctor appointment is only 45 minutes away. Let’s see if our efforts will be rewarded with a few ticks of the scale.

This post is my participation in Real Food Wednesdays and Fight Back Fridays — two awesome campaigns to get people eating real food again. Would love to hear any tips you might have to help keep kids focused on eating. What super-yummy, high calorie foods can you suggest? I’d like to know.

One Response to “Counting Calories for Kids”

  1. Heather says:

    Remember, kids need to gain enough FOR THEM. If she is healthy and doesn’t look like a stick, she is probably doing just fine for her. Maybe the doctors need a different growth chart for real food kids, just like needing a different one for breastfed babies than they use for formula babies.

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