When a child is said to be underweight, it means they gain weight at a slower rate than expected for their specific age and sex. In the event your doctor diagnoses your child as being underweight and they do not suffer from an illness or poor access to a balanced diet, the recommended course of action is to increase their daily calorie intake. Note, however, that the calorie intake needs to be healthy. Here are some of foods that can help them build a healthy

Root crops 

Root crops are plant roots such as sweet potatoes, cassava, ginger, garlic and yams, which are used as vegetables and spices. They are excellent sources of carbohydrates, fibre, antioxidants, some vitamins and minerals. Whole wheat bread and pasta are also good carbohydrate choices.


Eggs are excellent protein sources but in addition to that, they also offer vitamins A, D and choline, which is critical for proper cell formation and healthy growth and development. It is also rich in selenium, which helps the body make special proteins that play a role in preventing cell damage.


This includes milk, yoghurt and cheese, all of which are excellent sources of calcium, protein and vitamin D. In the event your child is lactose intolerant, there are other excellent sources such as chicken and nut-based milks such as almonds and soy.


And it doesn’t matter whether it is hazel nuts, peanuts, groundnuts or almonds; the majestic fatty content of nuts is worth getting nutty over. Nuts are rich in good fats, (mono and polyunsaturated fats) which lower bad fats and have anti-inflammatory qualities. They are also good sources of protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals.

Avocadoes and mangoes

Avocadoes are great sources of monounsaturated fats (healthy fats), those that lower one’s cholesterol. They are also high in calories. They are also good for the skin and bones because they are rich in vitamin A, D and E, and other minerals. Whether served as a fruity snack, dessert or used as an add-on in recipes, you have little to lose with avocadoes. Mangoes are another healthy choice and children love them when they are fully ripe because they are sweeter.

Beneficial fats

These are extracted oils from plants or animals such as fish. Plant-based fats are an excellent way to go and olive oil, flaxseed and sunflower oil are excellent sources. Flaxseed has a mild flavour and can be used in salads and smoothies. Coconut oil adds a nutty sweetness and can be used widely including in whole meals such as rice, fish curry or in salads and dressing.

It is normal for children to exhibit different feeding patterns and may sometimes go off a certain food for a while, preferring fruits or milk or simply smaller portions to what they were eating previously. Also, before you conclude that your child is underweight, it is advisable to get confirmation from an expert such as a paedetrician or child nutritionist. You cannot accurately tell an underweight child by looking at them, as their body frame may be deceiving.

Published June 2015