For some girls, gaining weight can be as much of a challenge as losing weight is for other girls. Being underweight poses some health risks for girls, including nutrient deficiencies, bone disorders, anemia and lowered immunity. Putting on weight requires an increase in quality calories that contribute to muscle rather than fat. This means that girls should eat foods from each food group rather than filling up on junk food. If you are concerned that your daughter is underweight, her pediatrician is a good resource for determining her body mass index and making a plan for healthy weight gain.
Choose a variety of foods from each food group at each meal. These options ensure adequate nutrient intake for a girl and also satisfy hunger and contribute calories to her diet. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy foods at each meal to increase calorie intake with healthy foods.
Serve your daughter five or six meals each day. A girl who needs to gain weight must eat more often to increase overall calorie intake. Each meal should contain at least three food groups, according to "Shape" magazine. For example, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, a banana and a glass of milk makes a healthy option.
Include healthy fats at each meal and snack, advises MayoClinic.com. These items are high in calories, making them ideal for weight gain in girls, but are also nutrient dense, contributing to her vitamin and mineral needs. Salmon, olive oil, avocado, nuts and cheese are good choices. Cook vegetables in olive oil, add shredded cheese to soup and salad or top a sandwich with mashed avocado.
Serve snacks between meals. This is a good way to increase calorie intake throughout the day. MayoClinic.com suggests a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, lean meat and cheese wrapped in a tortilla or nuts and string cheese.
Make smoothies to increase calorie intake. "Shape" magazine suggests blending fruit and yogurt with 100-percent fruit juice or milk and serving the mixture with meals to add calories to a girl's meal plan. Peanut butter is another healthy smoothie ingredient that combines well with many types of fruit.
Use calorie-rich toppings on favorite foods. MayoClinic.com suggests topping scrambled eggs with cheese or adding dried milk to stew. Other options include sprinkling shredded cheese on baked potatoes, soup or vegetables, melting a small amount of butter on vegetables or toast and adding a slice of cheese or avocado to sandwiches.
Include exercise in a weight-gain routine. This may seem counterintuitive, but strength-training increases muscle mass, which may help a girl gain weight. It is safer for children to perform more repetitions with a lighter pound load to prevent injuries. MayoClinic.com recommends 12 to 15 repetitions for each move. Talk to your daughter's doctor about an appropriate amount of exercise for her specific weight-gain goals. Forgoing exercise completely may have harmful health effects, as it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.