High Calorie small quantity school lunch ideas, please

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    • #98134

      My 7yo has minimal appetite during school and eats very little of his lunch, despite me packing “favorites” and getting input for what I do put in. I’m looking for some ideas of high calorie-minimal mouthful things I could pack, that would not only entice him to eat, but also give him the calories he needs in just a few bites. (Also school is nut free 😬) Anyone been through a similar thing? Bargaining and reasoning doesn’t help at this age.
      Making/baking items at home is no problem.
      Thanks in advance

    • #98158
      Penny Williams

      First, consider what his favorite foods are. If he really likes chocolate or sweets, make some protein balls. Full fat cheese (younger kids love the cubes and shapes). Foods for grazing is how I would think of it. Protein shakes are good too. Make sure the items you pack have good protein, high calories, and as many nutrients as possible. Try not to pack simple carbs like breads, chips, etc — most kids will gravitate toward those foods but the need the protein for brain fuel.

      One thing that made a difference for us was the type of lunchbox we packed. I noticed when I packed separate baggies and containers, he’d get one out and eat some of that and retrieve nothing else (elementary age). I got a PlanetBox lunchbox and it totally changed his eating (they are super expensive but will last a lifetime). https://www.amazon.com/PlanetBox-Eco-Friendly-Stainless-Compartments-Adults/dp/B006IVM9VS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1536065186&sr=8-3&keywords=planetbox Now he opened one thing and could nibble on a variety of things, instead of focusing so much on taking everything out (which he didn’t because he became distracted).

      Here are some more ideas:

      When Meds Affect Appetite

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      • #166613

        thanks for the ideas

    • #98161

      I’m in a similar situation. I send a protein shake everyday. If your little one likes smoothies, those can be a great way to sneak in veggies – fruits can mask spinach and carrots. My guy seems to pick up on those so we haven’t been able to add anything but water and protein powder. LOL.

      Clif bars pack a protein punch. And I agree with Penny, full fat cheese products are great and kids usually love them. If you search on Amazon, I believe you can find nut free protein bars. I just found over the weekend a bar called the “Perfect Bar” that packs a ton of calories that my son LOVES that’s all-natural. Not sure if they make any “nut free” varieties, but it might be a good idea for an afterschool snack. They are a bit pricey though – so pricey I actually put my son’s name on the bars and made sure everybody knew they were ONLY for my son.

    • #98330

      I just printed this, thank you thank you! I am in the same boat. My 7 yo is very picky eating and the pediatrician is concerned with his low weight on the medication. I just ordered him a bento lunch box in which he can open one thing and all his food is in front of him, no effort to unwrap or look in seperate packages. I filled it with high protein/ calorie snacks. His favorites and fruit and veggies which is great, but does not pack on the pounds.
      Bananas, kiwis, yogurt mixed with evaporated milk and fruit on top to entice him to eat it, and I’ve been using the pediasure or boost nutritional drinks. I try to give him one 2 to 3 times a day, which is full of vitamins minerals and calories. good luck! hope more people comment on this – always looking for new ideas!!

    • #108035

      This is an older thread but in case it’s helpful I will add my experience. One day I was talking to a mom about her baby and she made the comment “fed is best” referring to bottle vs. breast feeding but it sent off LIGHT BULBS in my brain….. The same is true for my kid fed is best!! I immediately ordered kid protein shakes to send to school with my son. Suddenly he has no issue drinking his lunch every day. When I sent him with sandwiches or other food items he got too distracted and would not eat a bite. And it makes packing his lunch super easy. These are the ones I buy on subscribe and save:


    • #108116
      Dr. Eric

      My son would not do the protein shakes.
      #1 – We concentrate on breakfast and dinner. We found that pushing too hard about lunch was making it too stressful for him.

      #2 -We had some success with 2 things: homemade “lunchables” (salami, cheese, goodie) and homemade “corndogs” (corn muffins with sliced hotdogs in them). The lunchables upgraded to mini salami-hawaiian roll sandwiches.

      He is still severely underweight, but there are no issues with energy, mood, or health.

    • #126659

      Agree with so many of the posts already up here. The only thing I would add would be home made baked goods, you can supplement with home made so that you have control of the sugar and protein. Generally we will pack more in the box, but know that only the muffin and milk will be eaten. Breakfast and Dinnar are less carby and more focused on a protein and fruits and veggies.

    • #126772

      Just a thought our brains are 60% fat and 25% of that is cholesterol so making sure your child is getting plenty of fat in their diet daily is important. Especially for ADHD brains.

    • #127391

      I’m in kind of the same boat with my 7 year old. He’s a pretty picky eater already, so with the side-effect of curbing his appetite it was difficult to find something to take for school lunch. I’ve found giving him a divided container (not necessarily a Bento box, anything with the little compartments) with things like chopped up ham, a small handful of cashews and maybe some string cheese is something he will consistently eat. String cheese is debatable just because he likes to take the time to actually peel the strings, and sometimes runs out of time to finish the rest. But the general idea is small, snacky stuff seems to work best while anything resembling a “big” meal seems to put him off.

    • #127729

      I am similar even as an adult. Sometimes I have such an aversion to a certain food (randomly, my body will just say no!) that I can’t even force myself to swallow it! I started pre-making a bunch of fruit/veggie smoothies with avocado or coconut oil and protein powder in them and then put them in the reusable babyfood squeeze pouches in the freezer. They are small enough to be able to eat it all in one sitting and give me enough protein and fat to keep me going til dinner, when a meal is for some reason more manageable for me.

      FWIW I think for me sometimes my daily tasks at work are so overwhelming that taking time to eat and be present overwhelms me more because I can’t be in my head processing my day. Not sure if your child may be feeling similar, but perhaps worth exploring if only lunch is the hard meal.

    • #127805

      Have you tried those little “brownies” made of dehydrated banana? Nothing like banana chips – very sweet and chewy. My son loves them. Super dense in calories and nutrition!

    • #178487

      I second the clif bar. Also, nuts are a great snack with fat & protein. You can get them covered in chocolate also.

    • #178605

      This is tricky, but remember the most important thing for health/adhd brain is fat. Fat is full of nutrients and calming to the brain as the brain is 60% fat. Things like cream cheese with blueberries/strawberries, Bite size pieces of hard cheese, full fat yogurt, hard boiled eggs( if your child likes eggs). I know you can’t put nuts in their lunch, but are great for home snacks.

      Something else to consider wheat/grains become sugar to the body once past the lips and it helps to avoid these.

      If you would like to learn more “Unlearn-Rethink” and “Wheat Belly” Facebook pages are real eye openers concerning overall health including the ADHD brain needs

      Good luck!


    • #186942

      My son is almost 17 and he was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 7 and he has been taking medication since. His sleep has never been a problem but eating does. We’ve been trying to provide him healthy breakfast because he usually skips lunch because of the medication. he eats dinner and we always provide him another meal before his bedtime. We also provide him multi-vitamin shake (boost) for lunch and before bedtime. He eats only certain food but no cheese, no hamburgers, no pizza, basically only original fresh. Because of this, our family eat only fresh food and no pre-packed or frozen food.

      Most of the time, he eats a bit of breakfast because he always says he’s not hungry when he gets up and we have to make sure he takes his med before leaving the door (he forgets to take when he gets to school).

      I’d like to know if anyone has suggestions for breakfast, lunch?

      Thank you
      Cadalina Lin

    • #187125

      Cream cheese
      Heavy cream
      Vegetable oils
      Nuts and seeds
      Nut and seed butters
      Dried fruit
      Whole-milk yogurt

      Source: https://www.verywellfamily.com/high-calorie-foods-2633938

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