Five helps regulate bowel movements and blood sugar levels and keep us satiated between meals. Keep your children healthy by giving them lots of whole, natural foods that contain bountiful amounts of fiber.
How Much Fiber?
Toddlers should be getting fiber from natural foods daily. How much your child needs depends on the child's age.
The general fiber rule for kids up to age 9 is 5 grams plus their age in grams. A four-year-old should be eating 9 grams of fiber daily.
Once children reach the age of 9, their fiber needs increase.
Most fresh vegetables and fruits contain ample amounts of fiber. Remember to leave the skin on -- that's where most of the fiber is. Strawberries, apples, blueberries, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, pears, raspberries, avocado, broccoli, carrots, green beans, peas, corn and squash are all excellent sources of fiber and other important nutrients that your toddler needs to grow.
Other excellent choices include whole grains in the form of breads, cereals and pastas. Brown rice -- not white -- is also a good, kid-friendly choice. Beans, seeds and nuts make for good high-fiber snacks.
Making Them Eat It
Fiber is relatively easy to work into your child's diet. While apples are a good source of fiber, adding nutritious peanut butter as a dip is both fun and healthful. Peanut butter contains about 3 grams of fiber per serving, and in addition to the 5 grams of fiber found in a medium apple, this simple snack packs a powerful fiber punch for your kids.
Nuts and seeds in general are a great way to add fiber to meals and snack time. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are loved by children of all ages, and are small enough to forgo choking hazards. Try sprinkling sunflower kernels onto yogurt or cottage cheese for a tasty snack with an added 3-4 grams of fiber.
Another tasty idea is to make roll-ups that the kids can help with. Try whole-wheat tortillas with peanut butter, raisins, fruit slices, berries or bananas-- all of which are high in fiber. Another great idea for meal time is to have kids fill up whole-wheat tortillas with lean protein, black beans and fresh veggies like peppers, celery, onions and cucumbers. This meal is fun to make, fun to eat, and more importantly-- packed with fiber.
Popcorn is also high in fiber -- and fun for kids to eat, with supervision, of course.
Fiber has many health benefits, and most kids and adults alike aren't getting enough.
From lowered incidences of colon cancer to the prevention of diabetes, fiber is a health powerhouse. Raising kids to choose fibrous foods leads them to a path of health that will last a lifetime.
While fiber is known for regulating the digestive system, it also helps keep kids full after meal and snack times. Since the fiber slows digestion, it keeps kids from overeating junk food, which can lead to obesity in both childhood and adulthood.
It can even assist in weight loss and management, as well as keep cholesterol levels low. While these problems may not be present in toddlers, fiber can give kids a head start when it comes to leading healthy, full, active lives.
Fiber can be uncomfortable if eaten in excess. However, most kids aren't eating anywhere near their daily recommended amount of fiber, so going overboard isn't usually a problem.
If your child has consumed too much fiber, symptoms like diarrhea and upset stomach can occur. This will be relieved once the fiber works its way through the child's digestive system.