Story by: Maggie Roetker on March 22, 2016
The word “fiber” may make you think of prunes and senior citizens, but the truth is most kids don’t get enough of this important nutrient that helps keep their plumbing moving.
I’ve known many kids, including my own, who have had issues with constipation. My kids are somewhat light and picky eaters. Add to that school lunches that don’t include much fiber, and it’s difficult to keep kids regular.
Constipation affects a lot of children. Most of the time this can be addressed with diet, but it takes a conscious effort.
In addition to relieving constipation, increased fiber intake can reduce the risk of a child developing urinary tract infections.
Constipation can cause pressure in the urinary tract, blocking the flow of urine and allowing bacteria to grow and cause an infection. Plenty of water and eating fiber contributes to all around better urinary health.
Fiber also is filling, so it can help prevent overeating. It can lower cholesterol and even help prevent colorectal cancer, diabetes and heart disease. A recent study in the medical journal American Academy of Pediatrics showed that teens who ate a diet high in fiber had a reduced risk of breast cancer later in life.
How much fiber should kids get each day?
Food considered high in fiber has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving; a good source of fiber is one that provides at least 2.5 grams per serving.
Kid-friendly high-fiber foods
The list above contains just some of the best foods for a good amount of fiber. You can also sneak fiber into a meal in other ways. If you’re going to serve chips with lunch, look for whole grain and lower fat options for at least some nutritional punch. If you’re going to make meatballs to go with spaghetti, use whole-wheat bread crumbs in them. You also can sneak some fiber into the sauce by adding baby food spinach, peas and pear mixture (sounds weird, but it works!), which has 4 grams of fiber in a pouch and will be unnoticeable in taste. Every little bit adds up.
As you can see, getting enough fiber into your child’s diet takes a conscious effort. I’ve recently convinced my children to try prunes, and they’re getting used to the idea. Between that and serving fruits, vegetables and whole grains, we’re getting there. By thinking creatively, you can increase that fiber and keep your kids’ plumbing in good working order.