We all try hard to feed our families the best food we possibly can. We know about complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. But what about Fiber? How much do kids need? Why is it important? How do you add fiber to your family’s diet?
How much Fiber does my child need?
- A good rule of thumb is to add 5 to your child’s age if they are over 3 years old. So, a 5 year old needs approximately 10 grams of fiber per day. I’m not huge on numbers and calculations, so let’s just say if your child is eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet that includes foods that are good sources of fiber you really don’t need to count grams of fiber.
Why does my kid need fiber?
- Fiber helps your child feel full longer and keeps things regular with the digestive tract. A fiber-rich diet may help children with constipation. High fiber foods are also rich in vitamins and minerals and are rich in antioxidants.
What are good sources of fiber?
- Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole-grain breads and cereals.
What are some ways to boost fiber in our diet?
1) Start with a fiber-rich breakfast:
- Choose whole grain foods that contain at least 3 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar.
- Add fruit to a bowl of fiber-rich whole grain cereal.
- Make a breakfast wrap with vegetables on a whole wheat tortilla.
2) Use nuts and fruits as toppings
- Top salads with nuts, fresh or dried fruits.
- Make a trail mix with whole grain cereal, nuts and dried fruit for a quick snack.
- Top yogurt with nuts or fresh fruit.
3) Eat your fruits and veggies!
- When eating apples, pears, potatoes…don’t peel them! This is where most of the fiber lives!
- Always pick fresh or frozen fruits over fruit juice, which has almost no fiber.
- Keep washed, pre-cut veggies on hand and easy for your kids to find.
- Add veggies to pizza, salads, soups and sauces.
- if you don’t like it, Blend it! I make smoothies for my kids with fruits and vegetables and make popsicles with the leftovers!
4) Don’t forget the beans
- Beans (and peas) can be counted as a vegetable and protein (nutritional double weapons!)
- Use them as side dishes, or add to soups or salads
- Adding beans is a great way to add nutrition and taste on a budget!
5) Choose Whole-Grains and READ LABELS!
- Choose pasta, rice and bread made with whole grain, and make sure “Whole Grain” is listed as the first ingredient.
There are lots of “fiber products” on the market…powders, pills, even cookies! But remember, it’s always best to get your fiber from real food!