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Everything you need to know about fiber and how it can help improve your child’s digestive system, with a list of kid-friendly, fiber-rich foods.

Tips and recipes your kids will want to eat

Fiber should be a staple in both adult and children’s diets. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough of this crucial carbohydrate. If your child is having trouble with constipation or stomach issues, chances are, they need more fiber in their diet.

If you have a picky eater or a child who doesn’t like vegetables and fruits, it can be really tough to give them enough fiber. This round-up has some great recipe ideas to help you incorporate more fiber into your kid’s diet. Here’s everything you need to know about fiber and how it can help improve your child’s digestive system.

What is fiber?

Fiber is a carbohydrate that isn’t broken down or digested by your body. Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains contain fiber. Fiber actually comes in a soluble and insoluble form.

Soluble fiber will dissolve in water. This type of fiber will help improve your blood sugar control and will also lower cholesterol.

Insoluble fiber helps with constipation as it doesn’t dissolve in water. Each of these two fiber types is important to a healthy diet.

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The benefits of fiber

The benefits of fiber in your child’s diet are almost endless. A high fiber diet will help relieve constipation, keep you feeling fuller, and in turn, help keep weight under control.

High fiber diets also lower cholesterol and help to prevent diabetes and heart disease. Fiber may also reduce your risk of getting certain forms of cancer.

If you can help increase the fiber in your child’s diet through vegetables and fruits when they are little, this will help them develop healthy eating habits that can stay with them as they grow into adulthood.

How much fiber does your child need?

There is an easy formula that can help you determine how much fiber your little one needs. Start by taking your child’s age and then adding five or ten to that number. Let’s say your child is three years old. This means that your little one should be getting eight to 13 grams of fiber daily.

Here’s a quick guide to help you determine how much fiber your child needs each day:

  • 2-year old = 7-12 grams of fiber
  • 5-year old = 10-15 grams of fiber
  • 10-year old = 15-20 grams of fiber
  • 15-year old = 20-25 grams of fiber

Can your child eat too much fiber?

You can actually give your kids too much fiber. In a study by the Journal of Pediatrics, too much fiber was shown to cause stomach aches and diarrhea. The study shows that all your kids need is a moderate increase in the amount of fiber they are eating.

Don’t give your children dietary fiber supplements unless your pediatrician advises you to. Instead, increase fiber-rich foods into your family’s diet naturally.

How to incorporate fiber into your family’s diet

If adding fiber to your child’s diet seems difficult, it doesn’t have to be. There are a few things you can do to make adding fiber easier.

While you’re shopping, check food labels and nutrition information. You want to choose foods that have three grams of fiber or more.

Instead of refined grains, look for whole grains. Brown rice is an example of a whole-grain where white rice is a refined grain. Whole-grain pasta is another example instead of regular white pasta.

Instead of juice, choose whole fruits when your child wants something sweet and refreshing. When you’re preparing meals, try and include one fruit and one vegetable with each meal. You want to aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

To make adding fiber easier on both you and your kids, try to top their favorite foods with a serving or two of fiber-rich food. Add fruit and nuts to yogurt and cereal, for example. You can also add tomato, avocado, and lettuce to your child’s sandwiches. You can even sneak bran into your baked goods without them noticing a difference.

Good sources of high fiber food for kids

There are a ton of foods that are naturally high in fiber. With such a large variety, this should make adding them to your child’s diet easier.

Foods that are naturally high in fiber include brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and whole grains. Cooked dried beans like lentils, black beans, and split peas are also great sources of fiber. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are some of the best sources of fiber.

Your child will be best served by getting their fiber directly from their food instead of supplements or pills. Unless directed by your doctor, stick to natural food sources for your child’s fiber intake.

Fiber-rich foods for toddlers and kids

If you have a picky eater or need to know some kid-friendly sources of fiber, here are a few below that your little one will actually enjoy eating.

1. Oatmeal

A bowl of cooked oatmeal contains around four grams of fiber per cup. Add cinnamon, maple syrup, raisins, or fruit to make it extra sweet and tasty.

2. Carrots

While carrots are a vegetable, they are naturally one of the sweeter ones. Offer carrots with hummus or ranch dressing for a snack or bake them with cinnamon for a sweet treat. In a ½ cup serving, carrots have 2.9 grams of fiber.

3. Apples

Kids love apples. A small apple has 3.6 grams of fiber. There’s a reason they say you should eat an apple a day. You can serve apples as homemade apple sauce, baked on top of cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal, sliced by themselves or whole. Sliced apples are also great when served with peanut butter. Peanut butter on top of apples will add an additional 1.6 grams of protein.

4. Bananas

Bananas are another kid favorite. In a medium-sized banana, there is actually 3.1 grams of fiber. Bananas make great choices for breakfast on the go or snacks. Add bananas to smoothies, pancakes, muffins, cereal, or even ice cream for a nutritious and tasty boost of fiber. Banana and peanut butter sandwiches on whole-grain bread is a choice that is full of delicious fiber.

5. Berries

Berries are almost always a hit with kids. The best part about berries is that you can easily add them to almost everything. Topping out the fiber charts are raspberries with four grams of fiber per ½ cup serving. A cup of blueberries offers 1.8 grams of fiber and strawberries have 1.5 grams.

You can add berries to yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, or on top of waffles and pancakes. Since you don’t have to cut or peel them, raspberries and blueberries are great for kids’ lunches.

More recipe ideas and fiber-rich foods for toddlers

If you’re looking for more hearty fiber-rich recipes for your children as well as the adults in your family, try and take some of your favorites and add fiber-rich ingredients to them.

Blueberry muffins, bean and cheese toast, oatmeal muffins, sweet potato, and black bean chili are all great options.

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