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DS (15) has an ambition to join the army but is serverely underweight.

(56 Posts)
VoldemortsNipple Sun 10-Aug-14 20:13:19

All DS has ever wanted to do is join the army. He is in cadets and hopes to go to the army college next September. After battling with my own insecurities about him joining up, I fully support his decision.

Last week we went to the recruitment office so we would have all the information well in advance. Now DS has always had a slight build. He was born on the lowest percentile and has remained there all his life. Therefore, although he has always been skinny, I've never worried about it. As skinny as he is, he is quite wirey and muscular. I expected to be told that DS would have to work on his physical fitness and bulk up a bit. But somewhat naively, I didn't think we'd be told he had to have a healthy BMI. To achieve this, DS would have to put about 2-3 stone on while also working out to increase his fitness.

The fact that his BMI is so low, has really opened my eyes to the need to help him improve his diet but all the information I come across seems to be aimed at bodybuilders. I'm also really worried at how I'm going to afford to improve his diet when my food budget is already strained. I really am confused in how best to help him. I'd feel as if I had let him down as a mother if he can't fulfil his dream because he is underweight. sad

ChillySundays Sun 10-Aug-14 22:32:02

Don't be so hard on yourself - we all do our best for our children. Speak to your GP about the best way to do this. Easy to sit and eat cake to put on weight but that can't be a healthy way to do it.
I wish I could advise on the budget side. Presuming you are already shopping around and cooking from scratch.
Hopefully someone will come along with more advice.

Littlefish Sun 10-Aug-14 22:33:57

Can you give us a sample of a day's food that he currently eats?

TheFairyCaravan Sun 10-Aug-14 22:38:06

Voldermorts my DS1(19) is currently in Phase 1 training in the Army. His weight wasn't an issue, but for the past 2 years or so he has eaten a lot of protein and drank protein shakes which has built up muscle.

TheFairyCaravan Sun 10-Aug-14 22:43:37

Don't forget, either, Voldermorts that a lot of boys have a growth spurt around 15-16. He could well be much bigger than he is now by Christmas.

Even if he doesn't get to Harrogate next September all is not lost. There are men of 27 in with DS1 so there is plenty of time.

Please don't feel like you've failed him, you really haven't. You sound like a lovely, caring mum.

Littlefish Sun 10-Aug-14 22:57:57

If he is 2-3 stone below a healthy BMI then I think it would be worth a visit to the GP to see if they can refer him to a dietician as well. 2-3 stone below healthy BMI is rather a lot.

halestone Sun 10-Aug-14 23:15:32

My cousin had this problem and went to his GP who referred to see a dietician. He put weight on in a healthy manner. He is now in the Army and has been for 15 years and no-one would describe him as underweight now, he eats well and has a passion for all physical exercise.

VoldemortsNipple Sun 10-Aug-14 23:23:36

thefairycaravan Did you find the protein shakes helpful? I have bought him a tub which he has been having one a day. He's not too keen on them, he says there is an after taste but is willing to drink them if I put it in his hand. I've also been buying him whole milk rather than semi skimmed. Saying he has 2-3 stone to put on is accounting for the probability of him having a growth spurt.

I don't feel as if I've failed him now, but I know I would if he gets knocked back.

littlefish He is quite fussy but knows what he likes. In the past six months, I've noticed he has began to eat larger portions. Before that, he usually wouldn't clear his plate. A typical day would be something like this.

Breakfast, bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes with whole milk. This is the only thing he likes for breakfast.

Lunch, a baguette of some description from the school canteen with a fizzy drink. If at home, he usually has a tin of soup with bread, pot noodles, or a couple of slices of pizza. Something simple and convenient because I'm at work.

Dinner, his favourites are, chicken tikka masala, tuna pasta, pasta Bolognese. He's not keen on potato products especially chips and if we have these, he usually leaves most.

If he wants a snack he tends to have more cereal rather than junk food or healthy snacks. If he has spare money, 9 times out 10 it goes on fizzy drinks.

TheFairyCaravan Sun 10-Aug-14 23:31:17

Voldermort DS1 gained a lot of muscle bulk from drinking them. He was lifting weights and exercising as well. I spoke to him tonight, he said since he's not been drinking them he's lost bulk. He wasn't keen on the taste so he'd mix milkshake powder in with them, you can buy a big box of chocolate flavour from Lidl quite cheaply.

VoldemortsNipple Sun 10-Aug-14 23:32:18

littlefish I know it's a lot, hence why I'm asking for advice. There is surprisingly little advice on the web. However as I said in the op, his weight is normal for him, he has always had a slight build and is healthy in every other way.

I think a visit to the gp is definitely a good idea. He's away at camp with cadets until the end of the week though so I wanted some advice in the mean time.

VoldemortsNipple Sun 10-Aug-14 23:38:29

Ooh thanks fairy, I might try that next. The one we have was good value too, from home bargains. He has a wall poster he got from the recruitment office of a 12week fitness program which he is going to start when he gets home from camp so hopefully if we can get the weight on him, he can start to build muscle.

Mitzi50 Sun 10-Aug-14 23:40:56

I would ask your GP to refer DS to a nutritionist. I know my son's school are giving talks to the boys to discourage them from using protein shakes as there are potential risks to their health

Several of DS friends need to "bulk up" as they hope to play professional level rugby but all have been given a high protein diet by the rugby team's nutritionist. This involves eating 6 high protein meals a day - all of them have been told not to drink protein shakes.

VoldemortsNipple Sun 10-Aug-14 23:54:44

mitzi50 I understand protein drinks are not the most ideal thing, but unfortunately there is no way I could afford to give DS 6 high protein meals per day. I have a constant battle with what I can afford versus what he will eat versus how healthy it is. For example, I bought him a few bags of salted peanuts to take to camp. They work out cheap at 49p per bag and are a good source of protein with a high calorie content, unfortunately they are covered in salt which is not good. But other nuts are more expensive and less likely to be eaten.

Mitzi50 Mon 11-Aug-14 00:05:21

I couldn't give you a cost breakdown but protein supplements are expensive. I know the 6 meals consist mainly of chicken which I doubt is significantly more expensive than a supplement. I would still go to your GP as a starting point.

Dancingqueen17 Mon 11-Aug-14 11:16:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VoldemortsNipple Mon 11-Aug-14 19:53:13

Thanks for that link dancingqueen There's a few good ideas on there. As for the fizzy drinks, DS often buys them with his dinner money or pocket money. I'm always on at all the dcs to cut down on them to no avail. I will suggest milkshakes instead but don't hold out much hope. I think I'd have more success in encouraging him to drink milk at home though especially if I pick up some milkshake powder. He doesn't like smoothies though.

Lucked Mon 11-Aug-14 20:03:11

Remember cottage cheese and tinned tuna as good sources of cheap protein.

Worth getting professional advice if you can through GP.

My other thought was do all the armed services and various branches have the same requirements? May be worth investigating in case all else fails.

TiffanyToothache Mon 11-Aug-14 20:09:30

Healthy ways to gain weight article from Boots

lljkk Mon 11-Aug-14 20:46:20

If he puts on weight without more exercise he'll just get fat around his internal organs, he has to up his fitness levels.

Milk + toast = cheap way to get lots of complete proteins.

What exercise does he actually get, OP?

specialsubject Tue 12-Aug-14 11:04:44

an awful lot of nutrition-free crap in that diet, and fussy eating will not be tolerated in the army.

so if he wants this ambition, he knows what he has to do. It is all taught at school, how about getting him to research a healthy diet on a budget - the two are not mutually exclusive. Then he can help you implement it.

VoldemortsNipple Tue 12-Aug-14 18:58:05

Thanks for the support specialsubject hmm I'm perfectly aware it's not the best diet in the world, if it was I probably wouldn't be here asking for advice. When I say he's a fussy eater, I mean there are certain things that he doesn't like such as cheese, potato products, bacon. Everybody has things they don't like and when your trying to feed a family of five on a budget, who all have foods they don't like, it limits what you can make which everybody will eat. His biggest problem is he doesn't have a big appetite and so he gets full very quick.

lljkk at the moment his main exercise comes from pe lessons in school and the bit of fitness he does at cadets, so very little. Although I wouldn't say he was unfit, just at the age where he can get away with it. He occasionally goes to parkrun and can easily run 5k in around 25 minutes.

However he has been saying he wants to get into more exercise and join the gym. The army office gave him a twelve week fitness plan which he's committed to starting when he gets home from camp.

lljkk Tue 12-Aug-14 19:40:41

sounds good, swimming is excellent for building upper body strength (have you SEEN the pecs on competitive swimmers?!). A combination of twice week swim + twice week running would do it for him. If you can afford the swimming (I think our leisure centre offers a swim-only membership costing £22/month).

Has he seen any of the Royal Marines Commando series? The fitness of those guys is pretty breathtaking, too.

I have a lazy DS in cadets, sympathies!

GnomeDePlume Tue 12-Aug-14 19:40:46

VoldemortsNipple are we sharing a DS?

I too have a 15 year old with limited food interest but a huge interest in getting to Harrogate in September 2015.

How about an eating plan to go with the exercise plan? My DS doesnt have a huge appetite. What works for him is little and often. Snacks are fine.

How is your DS with eggs? Will he eat things like omelettes? He could make himself in between meals snacks - scrambled eggs on toast? Fried egg sandwich?

specialsubject Tue 12-Aug-14 20:04:55

oh well, another fail on the 'telling people what they want to hear' thing.

eating healthily is perfectly possible on a limited budget. Decent food is cheaper than sugary crappy cereals or protein shakes.

good luck.

myotherusernameisbetter Tue 12-Aug-14 20:37:34

Would he take a packed lunch instead of having the money to spend on fizzy drinks? I know it must be hard with a big family and a limited budget.

I can get a decent sized amount of chicken drumsticks and coat them in a little oil mixed with a stock cube and tablespoon or so of water and roast them. fairly cheap protein and also nice cold for lunch.

Would he eat tinned mackerel or sardines? Also cheap protein.

Eggs are a great idea too - what about beans? beans on toast and a glass of milk, cheap, quick, tasty and full of protein (sugar and salt too no doubt!)

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