High fiber foods don’t usually get picked on the favorite foods list, but their role in our health is way more important than they get credit for! Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is the structural part of plants and is therefore found in plant-derived foods. Examples include vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. Fiber takes longer to digest than other carbohydrates, which helps give that "full" feeling a little longer than low-fiber foods and help move food through the digestive tract, with the help of adequate fluid. High fiber foods also tend to be low in fat, which is also beneficial. Adequate fiber intake has been associated with a decrease in risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Recommended daily fiber intakes for kids are:
Ages 1-3 years: 19 gram/day
Ages 4-6 years: 25 grams/day
Ages 9-13 years: 26-31 grams/day
Ages 14-18 years: 29-38 grams/day
These recommendations can take some effort to achieve, but it is possible. When increasing fiber intake, it's best to do it slowly so as not to upset the gastrointestinal tract. It's also a good idea to increase fluid intake as you increase fiber intake and to choose a variety of sources of fiber.
Some of the best fiber sources are:
• whole-grain breads and cereals
• green peas
• legumes (dried beans, split peas, lentils, etc.)
Check out more examples of high fiber foods here.
Take a look at your child's diet and see if they could use some extra fiber. Then slowly start adding more high-fiber foods to their plates. Even simple changes like switching to whole wheat bread or brown rice can help quite a bit! By adding more fiber to their diets now, you are helping set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
Kim Bilger is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping people optimize their nutritional health. She lives in Edmond with her husband and three kids who appreciate her love of baking but not always her love of vegetables.