Dietary fiber is an important part of a child’s diet. Many times, parents focus on vitamins and minerals yet overlook dietary fiber. The fact is, foods high in fiber are full of vitamins and minerals and provide more than a handful of health benefits. I have three children and learned early on that a balanced diet was necessary for their health. One of my children became severely constipated because she was eating too much dairy, which can cause constipation, but not enough fiber. Find out if your child is receiving enough fiber, the benefits of of this substance found in plants and how to incorporate more of it into your child’s diet.
Amount of fiber kids need each day
It is easy to make sure your child is getting enough fiber with a simple rule. Kids that are over 2-years-old should receive fiber in the amount of their age plus five grams. Therefore, a 3-year-old child should be given at least 8 grams a day and a 5-year-old should receive 10 grams. This is the minimum amount of fiber children should get each day, and taking in more fiber is not harmful.
Health benefits of fiber
Fiber has numerous health benefits, including the following:
- It is nature’s laxative
- Boosts immune system
- Helps one feel fuller
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Lowers cholesterol
- Helps manage blood sugar levels
High intakes of fiber appear to considerably lower the risk of developing the following:
- Coronary heart disease
- Some gastrointestinal diseases including, constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and duodenal ulcer
High fiber foods
There are many foods high in fiber but the following foods are among the highest:
- Split peas
- Black beans
- Lima beans
- Whole wheat pasta
Integrating fiber into your child’s diet
Integrating fiber into your child’s diet is easy when you know what foods contain dietary fiber.
For breakfast, I offer my children cereals that are made with whole grains because they contain a good source of dietary fiber. Raisin Bran and Shredded Wheat contain whole grain wheat, and Honey Nut Cheerios® contain whole grain oats.
Adding fiber to your child’s lunch is easy. When packing my 6-year-old daughter’s school lunch, I often include a banana or carrot slices. I also make her sandwich with Nature’s Own Whitewheat® bread because two slices contain 3 grams of dietary fiber, and she prefers this type of bread.
When your child wants a snack, offer healthy options that are full of fiber. My children enjoy popcorn, raisins, and apples. If your child likes yogurt, try topping it with almonds, raspberries, or strawberries.
I serve my children dinners that are high in fiber, such as whole wheat spaghetti and chili made with beans. When I make chicken I serve it with a side of brown rice. I also include a high fiber vegetable, such as corn, broccoli, or a sweet potato.
When you add fiber to your child’s diet you are also adding vitamins, minerals and protecting their health.
More by Rebecca Bardelli:
Four Ways to Keep Kids From Getting Sick
Are Our Kids Getting Enough Vitamin D?
Immune-Boosting Foods to Prevent Kids from Getting Sick