Is your child getting the calories needed to get through the day?

I don’t think we really think about this question often, unless a reason appears.

We just figure, hey! our child is eating, all is good!…right?  We sometimes don’t see the signs, and the ‘hidden’ signs that perhaps are indicating there may be an issue.

I am not a nutritionist, I am a Mom with a special needs child and this is my little story with some information I have found out as well.  My hope is that perhaps it may make you take a second look at your children and see that they indeed are getting the proper nutrients and calories to give them good growth.

I will start with a little information regarding my son and how this came about.

My son is 12yrs old.  He has a rare syndrome called Meckel Syndrome, as some of you have read on the ‘About Me’ page here on my blog.  We all have witnessed and are witnessing the growth of our children.  We have seen the growth spurts and plateaus over the years.  It’s almost as if one day you wake up, and wow! all of sudden they have grown out of everything they own, they have advanced in mind, body and spirit, and we wonder and realize…When did this happen? You just had that on the other day and now it won’t fit?  What did you say to me?  Where did you learn that word?  lol

Our ‘babies’ are growing! 🙂

My son had been on a plateau for so long.  Until a year ago, he had pretty much worn the same size clothes for about 3yrs, had some advances in communication, had no interest in trying to do some of the things I’d been trying to work with him on and really didn’t seem to care if he tried or did something himself, he was content to let/have someone else help him or do it for him.  Don’t misunderstand me, he is a happy boy and of course we didn’t ‘fold’ into him all the time.

As parents of special needs children, it’s frustrating at times with all the things we have/need/should do with our children.  We all have those days where we just don’t want the frustration and upset that sometimes goes with getting them to learn/do what they must.

This past year, my son has made leaps in a number of areas!  Communication, growth, drinking and much more.  He has always been small/short for his age, and is still considered small for his age, but he is now 4′ 1.5″!  He weighs between 60-65lbs, likely closer to 65lbs now.

Until this past summer, growth and nutrition seemed to still be on that plateau.  After a holiday out to Nova Scotia to visit family, most of them had only seen pictures of Patrick, not met him, he started to mention that he was tired all the time. (It was also his first plane ride)

I didn’t think to much of it at first, perhaps it was just the pace of the our first big holiday together and seeing everyone and keeping busy.  A little bit later, come mid to late afternoon, he’s looking pale and would rather lie down to watch TV or do whatever.

It still hadn’t dawned on me, that with his growth this past year, I should perhaps look at his food and calorie intake.

After returning from NS, I missed all the home cooking.  The great meals and the ‘way of cooking’ as well.  Getting back to basics again.  I started buying fresh meat again, veggies and the like, to provide good, nutritious home cooked meals.  It’s not always easy cooking for one.

As Patrick was only able to eat baby food, I decided to start seeing if I could get him to try suppers with me.  Stick with me here now.  Patrick has always had an issue with textures of things.  He has a lot of gum in his mouth and it covers a good portion of some of his teeth.  He doesn’t chew much at all.  Therefore, most of his food was close to pureed.  He was able to handle small ‘lumps’, as he could ‘break them down’.

I had a mini chopper that had been stored in the closet for many years, not using it much except the odd time when I didn’t want to physically do onions by hand 😉  I decided to give it a try.  Suppers I cooked, I would put in the chopper for him.  ‘Chop’ it down to a consistency that I felt he would tolerate and eat.  He loves it, doesn’t like the sound of the chopper, but he knows it’s supper lol

He now likes to have more choice and variety for his meals and everything has to have either ketchup or parmasan cheese on it!!

It’s better for him, more work for me, but he’s getting ‘better’ vitamins and that’s what’s important.  But…

He’s still tired!!  By mid afternoon he’s tired and some days pretty pale.  Call me slow, maybe it was a Monday…who knows, but I started thinking…  His diet has been the same for the past 3 years!! Pretty much exactly!!  He’s grown so much this past year, maybe he’s NOT getting enough calories in a day to get him through it without getting tired.

A trip to the Pediatrition, some bloodwork and a call to CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) to have a Dietition come out and review his nutrition and calorie intake had given us some answers that hopefully will relinquish the problem.

We are awaiting a return visit of the Dietition, she will be coming this Friday.  In the meantime, some information she has passed on to me, based on the information she had collected from me, was that his Vitamin C & E are not enough, neither is Fibre and he’s only getting 30% of his Iron requirements.  Ding, Ding, Ding!!  Tiredness, paleness can be symptoms of low iron.  Bloodwork has been faxed to the Nephrologist and the Dietition, I’m curious to see what it reads.

Tiredness and paleness doesn’t always mean low iron.  There are other symptoms that can be a result of not getting enough nutrition and/or calories.  Some you may not see so clearly.

Take a look at your children, think about how much they have grown, or haven’t grown in the recent past.  Look at their food intake, what are they eating?  Is it the good stuff?  Are they eating balanced meals?  Getting all the food groups covered.  It seems difficult to do, and may even seem like a lot of food, but it’s not.  Combine good, healthy food and exercise, you have the makings of a strong, healthy child in body and mind!  Good nutrition helps the mind as well, helps children learn and absorb much more.

I KNOW it’s going to be tough trying to get all the required nutrition and food groups into a days worth of meals in the beginning.  In the long run, it will be so much better for Patrick, and it’s good for us too.  He will be a healthy young boy ready to take on his teens next year and all the changes that will come with that!  It’s already started LOL

If you notice or are concerned about your childs(rens) nutrition and/or calorie intake, consult your family Dr. or Ped.  For older children, talk to them first about their meals, find out how they’re feeling over all, do they find they have enough energy to get through the day?  Do they find it hard to absorb things at school? Do they feel hungry all the time or not hungry at all?  Are they just eating, because they know they have to or should?  Sometimes there are underlying disorders that our children may try to hide as well (Anorexia, Bulimia etc).  There are many questions you can ask.  If you have good communication with your child(ren), that’s awesome, things should go well and easily.  If not, speak with your Dr. about your concerns and perhaps what you could/should do to help them.

It should be interesting over the next while with the changes coming for us here.  I’m looking forward to the visit this Friday.  I’ll keep you posted! 🙂


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