• Another possible option to combat this side effect is to change when you give your child’s medication during the day. Some parents opt to give the first dose of medication after breakfast so this ensures that their child gets a good first meal. Lunch time is often problematic and children who take ADHD medications will usually have the least appetite for this meal. There can be trade-offs in the late afternoon of delaying the dosage until after dinner but this means you will have to endure some breakthrough behaviors. Many parents do become exhausted with having to make meals as late as after 8 pm when their child’s medication wears off. There is no one right answer to this. There will definitely be a compromise in any changes in the time you give your child’s medication as in break through behaviors or problems with sleep. Talk to your child’s doctor about the best options which work for your child and your family’s schedule.
• There are some parents who combat the appetite suppression side effect of their child’s stimulant by giving their child a medication holiday on weekends and during the summer when the child is not at school. This way the child has a chance to gain some weight but of course there is the issue of how to cope with ADHD symptoms during these times.
• Encourage grazing and eating snacks. For my son we buy lots of boxes of raisins, cereal, and gluten free pretzels. We have baggies of cut of fruits or vegetables on hand so we can even take them on car rides in the event that he is hungry. Which snacks you offer greatly depends on your child’s diet (my son has multiple food allergies) and there is no one size fits all approach. There are numerous articles on the web about calorie enriched snacks such as this one by Susan McQuillan for the on-line version of ADDitude magazine.
• Some kids will more readily drink their calories than eat them. Due to my son’s dietary restrictions we bought a vegan rice protein powder that we could easily mix into his rice milk. Other options are to make high calorie smoothies or milkshakes. Pediasure and Ensure also provide nutrients in a drinkable form.
• Making sure that your child gets enough of the daily vitamins can also be a challenge when your child is struggling to eat a balanced diet. Ask your child’s doctor about which supplements or vitamins are appropriate for your child.
• In some cases an appetite enhancing medication may be suggested by your child’s doctor. As with any medication there are side effects to such drugs. You want to make sure to ask about the potential risks of any medication you are thinking of giving to your child.
Remeron (Mirtazapine), which is an antidepressant, is sometimes given to offset the loss of appetite side effect of ADHD medications. Dr. Sheila A Cason, a pediatrician who offers her expertise on MedRound Publications on-line, has this to say about the use of Remeron for ADHD children: “Some people do add Remeron (Mirtazapine) because at low doses it acts as a antihistamine which increases sleepiness and stimulates appetite but there has been some concern over the use of anti-depressants and suicidal ideation in children.”