Pass the Fiber, Please!

A guide to bringing fiber to the table.

As a whole, most parents know and understand that fiber is a vital part of a healthy kid's diet. But it's beyond there that the problem lies. While moms and dads may know fiber is important, they don't know how important or how many grams of fiber kids need each day or even how to create fiber-rich meals. Unless they are taught the importance of a healthy diet at a young age, then chances are children will develop poor eating habits that will stick with them throughout life. But, fear not! It's never too late to learn the ropes and instill lifelong healthy habits.

Know the Facts

A recent study shows that 54% of parents do not know how many grams of fiber children should consume daily. In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) significantly increased the recommended daily fiber intake standards and debunked the "age plus five rule." Today's updated guidelines recommend 25 grams of fiber per day for 4-year-old children. Yet in the past, parents were told that 4-year-old children needed just nine grams of fiber – and only 45% of children 4-6 years old were meeting the old guidelines!

Fiber could be considered the unsung hero of a kid's healthy body, but parents often forget about it in the hustle and bustle of life. It's fiber that aids digestion, promotes regularity and relieves constipation. Essentially, it helps kids feel comfortable.

Age/Gender Fiber (Grams)
2-3 years 19
4-8 years 25
9-11 years (female) 26
9-11 years (male) 31

Make Fiber Fun

So, now you know how many grams of fiber are needed and why fiber is important. The next step is to start incorporating the fiber in the family's diet and delivering it to the table. To do that, start slow and make it fun for the kids. Try adding additional fiber-rich veggies – like peas, carrots and corn – to everyday soups, stews and salads or switching from traditional white-flour pasta to whole-grain pasta. Steer away from potato chips and cookies, and spice up snack time with fruits and vegetables.

Fifty-six percent of moms are searching for an easier way to add fiber to their child's diet. And almost 100% of kids love to be empowered. So why not give them the opportunity to hand-select the week's fiber foods? Provide them with a list of high-fiber options and leave the rest to them. They will appreciate being part of the process and take pride in knowing they had a hand in the meals. Some other fun, creative options include adding fruits and nuts to breakfast cereals, making delicious fruit smoothies (kids love the strawberry banana flavor and moms love the fiber), filling celery with peanut butter and topped with raisins (often known as "ants on a log") or cooking mini-pizzas on whole-grain English muffins.

Set the Stage

As parents, it's up to you to get kids off to a healthy start. Lessons learned now will greatly influence their approach to diet and wellness in the future. Teach them about what fiber does for their bodies and explain what happens when fiber is neglected from their diet. As you consistently encourage a fiber-rich diet and communicate the benefits, you will help your kids grow into adults equipped with healthy habits. And, who knows, you may even hear them say "More fiber, please!"