Parents often overlook the importance of fiber in children until it’s too late. In some cases, this essential nutrient is only acknowledged after the patient is struggling with severe constipation and other complications. Parents then scramble to try to fix, in a few hours, what they hadn’t taken notice of in months. For example, there are very efficient OTC alternatives and home remedies for occasional constipation, but it’s not a good idea to rely on them too frequently. If the body of the child does not receive proper nourishment, in this case, fiber, on a regular basis, it will become dependent on outside stimuli – such as constipation medication – to perform a bodily function that should be fairly regulated in developing children.
As explained in a very good medical article in KidsHealth.org, most parents are aware of the importance of fiber but have are under the incorrect impression that there is a limited spectrum of foods to deliver it to the body. In fact, some of the best and most delicious foods have a high fiber content. Foods that are rich in fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and prevent diabetes and heart disease. Also, when carbohydrates are combined with fiber, it slows the absorption of sugar and regulates insulin response. For children to receive the full benefit of fiber, it is essential that parents take a proactive (rather than reactive) approach to their children’s nutrition; this is why we have compiled a handy list of items to purchase on your next grocery shopping trip:
Fruits with fiber
Apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries – all offer 3 to 4 grams of fiber. Meanwhile, exotic fruits, such as mango, contain up to 5 grams per serving or guava, with close to 9 grams per serving. A little-known fact is that raspberries pack up to 8g of fiber per cup.
Vegetables with fiber
Make sure to include dark-colored vegetables. As a rule of thumb, the darker the color of the vegetable, the higher the fiber content. Carrots, beets, and broccoli are very rich in fiber. Collard greens and Swiss chard contain about 4 grams of fiber per cup. Artichokes are among the vegetables with the highest fiber content, at 10 grams (for a medium-sized). Also, bring home potatoes. Russet, red, and sweet potatoes all have at least 3 grams of fiber in a medium-sized spud, if you eat the skin and all.
Dry and Canned Goods:
Stock up on beans. Navy and white beans are the most fiber-rich, but all beans are fiber-packed. Any of these is a good choice for your shopping cart: garbanzo, kidney, lima, or pinto beans. They make great soups and chilis, and are a flavorful addition to salads. Beans are also high in protein, so if you’re cutting back on red meat, they’re a healthy, filling substitute. Include other legumes as well, such as peas, soybeans (edamame), and lentils are also high in fiber.
Check the cereal labels, as most cereals have at least some fiber content, but all cereals are not created equal. Any
Check the cereal labels, as most cereals have at least some fiber content, but all cereals are not created equal. Any cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving is a good source.
Bread and Grains:
Seven-grain, dark rye, cracked wheat, and pumpernickel are great choices for whole-grain bread, while bulgur wheat, brown rice, wild rice, and barley are all tasty substitutions for white rice.
An ounce of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, or almonds provide at least 3 grams of fiber. They are also high in calories, making them a great alternative for parents looking to help their children gain weight. Lastly, three cups of air-popped popcorn contain about 4 grams of fiber.
There are also many great supplements available to support fiber intake for children. We advise that you always consult with your child’s pediatrician or nutritionist about the importance of fiber and for your healthcare provider to advise on the best meal plan for him or her (as well as his or her allergist to rule out any possible allergies). As you will find in many of my articles, nutrition is one of the most important aspects of my work and an essential part of a parent’s proactive approach to a child’s wellness.