The main deficiency in most Americans’ diets isn’t vitamins or minerals. It’s the lack of fiber intake. Fiber keeps things moving in the digestive tract and keeps us full. A fiber-rich diet may aid in the prevention of constipation. These foods are also high in nutrients and vitamins, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and obesity.
Unfortunately, most children’s diets do not meet their nutritional requirements. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that children aged one to three consume at least 19 grams of fiber per day, and children aged four to eight consume at least 25 grams. The AHA recommends a minimum of 26 grams for girls aged 9 to 18, and 31 to 38 grams for boys aged 9 to 18. So, with the challenge of feeding children right, parents must learn some ways how to sneak fiber into the kids’ diet for them to be able to meet their bodies’ needs.
What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, refers to plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. Fiber, unlike other food components such as fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which your body digests and absorbs, is not digested by your body. Instead, it passes through your stomach, small intestine, and colon relatively intact before exiting your body.
There are two classifications of fiber namely soluble and insoluble. Both are essential for good health, digestion, and disease prevention.
Fiber that is soluble dissolves in water and forms into a gel-like substance. It allows you to feel fuller during meals thereby lowering the potential for obesity. Additionally, it can aid in the reduction of blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium all contain soluble fiber.
Fiber that is insoluble. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, making it useful for those who suffer from constipation or irregular stools. Insoluble fiber is found in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.
General Fiber Recommendations for Children
The standard recommendation is that a child’s daily fiber intake should be equal to their age in years plus 5. A 5-year-old requires 10g of fiber per day, while a 12-year-old requires approximately 17g. However, many nutritionists believe that is insufficient fiber.
According to the most recent recommendations, children should consume 14g of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. However, because most people are not that conscientious regarding calorie counting and most people do not track fiber intake throughout the day, there are practical ways to ensure your children meet their daily fiber requirements.
Before you begin working to incorporate more fiber into your child’s diet, you should first determine how much fiber your child requires. Leading health organizations to recommend that both children and adults consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. That means that children aged one to three should consume approximately 19 grams of fiber per day, while children aged four to eight should consume approximately 25 grams of fiber per day. To get there, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to increase the fiber in your child’s diet. The good news is that foods high in fiber tend to have additional health benefits, so including these foods in your child’s diet will improve their overall nutrition. In addition, including fruits and vegetables at every meal and choosing whole grains over refined grains can also be beneficial. You can research what fruits have the most fiber same with vegetables and other types of food. Here are some ways to incorporate fiber into your child’s diet:
- Adding nuts and fruits to yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal.
- Salads and soups with beans.
- Substituting air-popped popcorn, whole-grain crackers, or vegetables and fruits particularly berries with seeds or apples and pears with the peel still on for unhealthy snacks.
- Make sandwiches with whole-grain bread, wraps, or an English muffin with whole-grain bread.
- Choosing a high-fiber cereal over a sugary cereal. While some children dislike cereals such as muesli, many prefer Raisin Bran-style cereals, which contain about 5 grams of fiber per bowl. Including bran in baked goods.
Dietitians take about Fiber Supplement for Children
Although most fiber supplements are generally safe for children, doctors and pediatric dietitians generally do not recommend them unless necessary. For example, if a child has persistent constipation, they may recommend a fiber supplement, most likely one designed specifically for children rather than an adult product. However, they will generally encourage parents to try dietary strategies first, such as the tried-and-true prune-juice-and-water trick. They may also advise simply increasing their fruit and vegetable intake or serving vegetables raw or lightly cooked rather than fully cooked, which destroys some of the plant’s natural fibers.
Whether your child is constipated or not, the general rule is that food comes first, with supplements as a last resort, and always under the supervision of a health care provider. If parents are doing everything, they can feed their children fiber-rich foods but are still concerned about their intake, it’s time for substitutions and trickery. Replace refined bread, pasta, and wraps with whole-grain alternatives. Replace your usual grains like your white rice with brown, red, black, or wild rice. Add Ranch dip or melted cheese to raw broccoli, carrots, and celery to make them more appealing. Incorporate some fiber into your waffle or pancake batter. Fiber-rich flakes can be mixed in with their favorite cereal.
Avoiding Excess Fiber
When it comes to fiber, you can have too much of a good thing, just like anything else in life. Too much fiber, especially in the form of supplements like Metamucil or pills, can cause stomach aches and diarrhea. It is preferable if children get all their fiber from food. You should also take care to gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet to avoid bloating, gas, or cramps. Furthermore, as they add fiber to their diets, children should continue to drink plenty of water. Water can help move fiber through the intestines, ensuring your child gets the most benefit from it.
As parents, we all care for our children because it is one of the greatest gifts we have. As they grow, we want to provide them with the proper nutrition required to have the quality of life they deserve, and diet is only one of them, so the information above is intended to assist parents who want to provide their children with the appropriate fiber diet they require.