Fiber Food For Kids. Do you ever find yourself wondering what to do when your kid refuses to eat their vegetables? Or maybe you’re worried about getting enough nutrients into your kids, but don’t have time to make multiple meals for them. Maybe you’re a busy parent who doesn’t always have time to cook, and you’re looking for a quick, easy solution that’s healthy as well as delicious.
Fiber Food For Kids
We all know the 3 p.m. slump far too well. Lunch was a quick piece of pizza because we were too busy to prep a salad. Now we’re starving again and we’ll eat anything within arm’s reach. Hello, cupcakes in the office kitchen.
What that pizza lunch was missing was our (other) favorite f-word: fiber. You know, that stuff naturally found in fruits and vegetables that keeps you regular and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.Trusted Source
If the phrase “fiber-filled” conjures up images of boring old cereal, fear not. You’ll actually be excited to start bringing your lunch to work when you know fiber-filled food can be this freakin’ fantastic.
High fiber lunch salads
1. Honey mustard salmon with shaved brussels sprout salad
Fiber per serving: 5 grams
This recipe is a super fun way to switch up your packed salad routine. The brussels sprouts are a filling, high fiber alternative to lettuce, while the broiled salmon needs to be served room temp, so it’s perfect at work.
2. 5-minute lentil tomato salad
Fiber per serving: 9 grams
Don’t you hate meals that take longer to prepare than they do to eat? This isn’t one of those. It takes all of 5 minutes to throw canned lentils, plump cherry tomatoes, and chives in a bowl.
Keep it simple with just salt and vinegar, or take an extra 30 seconds to throw in some chopped basil and garlic for even more flavor.
3. Charred kale and farro salad with salmon
Fiber per serving: 9 grams
With more fiber per serving than brown rice, farro is a pantry must-have. This recipe does require you soak it overnight before cooking, but it’s so worth it.
Pile it on a bed of kale, top with salmon for protein, and sprinkle with sesame seeds for a lunch that throws the “salad = rabbit food” stereotype out the window.
4. Spiced raisin and pine nut salad
Fiber per serving: 17 grams
This lettuce-free salad takes the road less traveled in several ways: from the not-so-common barley base to the funky combination of curry powder, cinnamon, and turmeric to brighten it all up.
In your rush to get out the door, don’t skimp on the spices — they’re super easy to find, and they make all the difference.
5. Healthy chicken chickpea chopped salad
Fiber per serving: 9 grams
It’s all about exciting textures and flavors in this recipe. Jazz up your standard chicken salad by throwing in some chickpeas for extra protein, natural sweetness from corn, and a savory bite from the goat cheese.
6. Marinated tempeh salad
Fiber per serving: 17 grams
Between the tempeh, sweet potato, and veggies, there’s enough fiber in here for about half of the daily recommendation! Not too shabby for just one meal.
But as far as taste is concerned, it’s really all about the creamy tahini marinade. Let your tempeh soak in it as long as possible before grilling to get maximum flavor.
7. Zucchini noodle caprese salad
Fiber per serving: 10 grams
Chickpeas give more oomph to the tomato and mozzarella combo to make it a fiber-rich meal with a little extra protein. And with the zoodles at its base, it’s basically like eating a big bowl of pasta.
High fiber meals with sandwiches and wraps
8. Black bean avocado tuna salad sandwiches
Fiber per serving: 6 grams
Forgot to pack lunch the night before but really don’t want to resort to takeout? Been there.
Here’s something that you can pull together 5 minutes before leaving for work without skimping on nutrition or taste. Pack your bread or crackers separately for easy assembly in the office kitchen.
9. Turkey tortilla wrap with avocado cream
Fiber per serving: 11 grams
These wraps are made healthier by the swap of an avocado-Greek yogurt spread instead of regular mayo. And the no-fuss filling of tomatoes, lettuce and turkey may take you back to school days. Ah, such simpler times…
High-Fiber Foods for Kids
If you’ve ever potty-trained a toddler, you know the value of fiber in the diet. And if you haven’t, let’s just say that regular, easy-to-pass “movements” make life easier for everyone-baby/toddler/kid and parent. Fiber is the crown jewel nutrient for keeping us regular-young, old or in-between.
But fiber’s talents aren’t limited to just moving things along as they should within the walls of your GI tract. Fiber is also filling, so it can help kids stay satisfied after a meal (c’mon, no parent wants to re-open the kitchen for snack hour right after mealtime has ended). Getting plenty of fiber can help keep cholesterol in check. It promotes good gut health. Fiber-rich foods are often also naturally rich in vitamins, minerals and good-for-you compounds like antioxidants. (See our list of the best healthy foods for kids).
The (crappy) thing is, most of us don’t get enough fiber-kids included. Our sub-par fiber intakes are a result of our less-than-stellar commitment to eating adequate fruits, veggies and whole grains.
So how much fiber do children need?
Kids’ fiber needs vary with age (ranging from 19 grams a day for 1- to 3-year-olds up to 26 and 38 grams for teenage girls and boys, respectively). One easy rule of thumb is to simply add 10 to your child’s age. Do you have a 6-year-old? Aim for 16 grams each day.
Another simple solution, if tracking fiber grams isn’t your MO, make sure your kids eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. At that amount, it’s quite likely they’ll hit their fiber target.
But to help your children get the fiber they need, “you don’t need to break out the bran cereal or prunes,” says Jenna Helwig, food director for Parents magazine. “For many kids, fruit is the key. It’s usually very popular and often less suspect than whole grains and veggies. Besides prunes, other yummy options are raspberries, pears, pomegranate seeds and avocado (yup, a fruit!).”
10 Top High-Fiber Foods for Kids
So, with that said, we’ve pulled together a list of high-fiber foods that are also kid-approved. We’ll admit it is fruit-heavy, but you’ll see we broke out of the apple-pear-banana rut to give a list of delicious, easy and high-fiber options for your kids and toddlers.
1. High-fiber cereal
Almost all kids love cereal. A fiber-packed ready-to-eat cereal can deliver anywhere from 3 to 14 grams of fiber per serving. Shredded wheat (frosted is more kid-friendly, but also a little higher in sugar) clocks in with 6 grams of fiber per serving. A 1-cup serving of Cheerios has 3 grams of fiber, not shabby for an oat-based cereal that kids gobble up. Choose a cereal that isn’t too sweet-ideally one with under 7 grams of sugar per serving and at least 3 grams of fiber.
Related: How to Pick the Healthiest Breakfast Cereal
Pictured recipe: Raspberry Yogurt Cereal Bowl
A cup of raspberries has a whopping 8 grams of fiber. Fun fact: this is roughly the amount it takes to make raspberry fingers (you know, when the little ones cap the tip of each of their fingers with a raspberry). Raspberries are particularly high in fiber compared to other fruits. When they’re not in season, you can buy frozen raspberries and use them in smoothies and muffins, or thaw them for yogurt bowls.
Pictured recipe: Quick Stovetop Mac & Cheese with Peas
One of the few green veggies that most kids don’t object to also happens to be fiber-packed: a cup of green peas has 9 grams of fiber. Peas make a great addition to mac and cheese, soups and salads. Frozen peas are inexpensive and easy to keep on hand; they just need to be thawed and heated before serving as a simple side.
Read more: 5 Ways to Sneak Veggies Into Family Meals
Pictured recipe: Black Bean Tacos
A half cup of black beans and chickpeas both deliver 8 grams fiber. Fiber-packed beans are quite versatile. Whir chickpeas into hummus, roast them for a crunchy snack, or serve them straight from the can. Black beans are perfect for taco night (try these 5-ingredient Black Bean Tacos). Beans are a super-healthy food for kids to eat, and if you think your kids don’t like them you may have just not found the right preparation. New bean-based pastas, made with chickpea flour or lentil flour, are high in fiber and protein and have a kid-friendly texture. Lentils, white beans and kidney beans are all kid-friendly (and high-fiber) legumes to try too.
Pictured recipe: Almost Chipotle’s Guacamole
This creamy green orb is technically a fruit. Eat a half cup, and you’ll get 5 grams of fiber. Avocados are also rich in heart-healthy fats. Most kids like the taste, but if yours is averse to avocado’s texture or flavor, try blending it into a smoothie for a fiber boost. Avocados are excellent in guacamole (of course!) and creamy dips, and as a toast topper.
Pictured recipe: Strawberry-Almond Butter Sandwich
Almonds top the list as the nut that packs the most fiber, with 3½ grams in a 1-ounce serving. Peanuts aren’t that far behind at just over 2½ grams fiber per ounce, but for that extra leg up, consider swapping your peanut butter for almond butter. Nuts are also a great source of healthy fats for kids. If allergies are a concern, try sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for a fiber and protein boost.
Pictured recipe: Mango & Kiwi with Fresh Lime Zest
Not only is this sweet, juicy fruit available year-round, but you can also buy precubed frozen mango in the freezer section, which cuts out the prep. A cup has nearly 3 grams fiber. If your kids are mango smoothie-fiends, frozen mango makes an especially great choice. And unlike juicing, which extracts the fiber, when you mix fruit in a blender for smoothies the fiber stays intact.
8. Quick-cooking whole grains
Pictured recipe: Sweet & Sour Chicken
Not every grain works for every kid-some like whole-wheat pasta, some like brown rice, some like quinoa (and yes, unfortunately, some seemingly don’t like any). The key is to pick whole grains that cook quickly (for the sanity of moms, dads and hungry kid bellies). It’s also important to introduce whole grains early and often, so kids get used to seeing and eating them.
Whole-wheat pasta needs 10 to 12 minutes in boiling water and one serving (1 cup, cooked) has 4 grams of fiber. Quinoa also cooks up in about 15 minutes. Sure, pasta seems like the most kid-friendly starch (hello, mac and cheese!), but rice ranks high for the littler people, too. “I love the ease of microwavable rice pouches, for a quick way to add fiber when I’m crunched for time,” says Holley Grainger, M.S., R.D., owner and creator of Cleverful Living. Farro, barley and oats all come in quick-cooking varieties as well and still deliver a punch of whole-grain fiber.
9. Dried plums
Also known as prunes, these shriveled fruits are practically synonymous with staying regular. A ¼-cup serving boasts a fairly generous 3 grams of fiber. For kids’ smaller appetites and fingers, try individually packaged dried plums, such as Sunsweet Ones, which look like “candy” and stay very moist inside the package.
Pictured recipe: Lemon-Parm Popcorn
This airy, low-calorie snack is technically a whole grain. And while a cup only has 1 gram fiber, it’s typical to eat closer to 3 cups (so 3 grams of fiber!). Don’t forget-single-serve bags make for great school snacks. For babies and toddlers, popcorn is considered a choking hazard, so wait until they’re older to introduce this high-fiber snack.
What happens if my child gets too much fiber?
Too much fiber can cause some uncomfortable GI side effects, like bloating or gas. If your child is eating a low-fiber diet, ramp up slowly and make sure to give your little one enough fluids.
To keep digestion chugging along, hydration is also essential. So teach those little people to carry a water bottle, and show them how to fill it via the sink or a water filter so they can drink up when they’re thirsty.
Hopefully this list helps get more nutrition into your child’s diet and also helps if they are constipated (and helps prevent it from happening in the first place). Most parents can benefit from a higher-fiber diet too, so take note and eat more vegetables, fruit and whole grains yourself.
Delicious Ways to Sneak Fiber Into Your Child’s Diet
The biggest shortfall in most Americans’ diets isn’t vitamins or minerals. It’s fiber. Experts say adult women should get 25 grams a day while men should get 38 grams. Yet we average a paltry 15 grams.
Our kids aren’t doing any better. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that children ages 1 to 3 get at least 19 grams of fiber a day, and children ages 4 to 8 get 25 grams. The AHA says girls ages 9 to 18 require a minimum of 26 grams, and boys in the same age group should get 31 to 38 grams. Most children’s diets don’t provide nearly what they need.
Why worry? Because fiber has so many health benefits. High-fiber foods fill tummies up on fewer calories, so eating plenty of them is a key to maintaining a healthy weight. Fiber has been shown to lower bloodstream cholesterol levels and reduce heart attack danger. (These aren’t big threats to a 6-year-old, sure, but excellent eating habits now can set your child up for a lifetime of good health.) It also appears to protect against type 2 diabetes, which is a growing problem among American children, as well as certain cancers. And in the category of less scary but quite uncomfortable conditions, fiber relieves constipation.
The bottom line: One of the best things you can do to help your child thrive is to increase the amount of fiber he consumes. (There’s even a bonus: His health will benefit from the many other important nutrients that most fiber-rich foods have.) Begin slowly, nutritionists say, since it takes time for the digestive system to adapt to extra roughage. Too much too quickly can cause gas and bloating. Also encourage your child to drink more fluids, especially water.
Here’s how the experts suggest increasing the amount of fiber in your child’s diet:
Serve more fruits and vegetables.
Foods that come from plants, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, are the only sources of dietary fiber. Experts recommend aiming for at least 2 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. All produce isn’t equally rich in fiber, though. Some of the standouts are artichokes, avocados, dried fruits, okra (not exactly a favorite of most kids), baked potatoes with the skin, pears, and carrots. Concentrate on the ones your child likes.
Avoid peeling produce.
The skin and membranes of apples, pears, potatoes, and many other fruits and veggies are where most of the fiber is, so resist your child’s entreaties to peel things — unless he really won’t eat them otherwise. Just be sure to rinse produce thoroughly before serving. If you’re concerned about pesticide residue and can afford organic produce, that’s a fine option (but you should still rinse it well, as many people may have touched it since it left the tree or bush, and it may not be totally pesticide-free).
Serve vegetables raw or lightly cooked.
Many kids prefer veggies when they’re crunchy. Serve your child’s favorites — carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli — alongside salsa or low-fat salad dressing for dipping. When cooking veggies, it’s best to microwave them in a small amount of water or steam them briefly so they retain most of their nutrients. Nevertheless, if your child will eat his broccoli only if it’s mushy, then you know what to do: Make it mushy. He may gradually accept lesser degrees of mush. If you want to boost his enthusiasm about vegetables in general, make it a family project to cultivate a veggie garden. He’ll be excited to see the snow peas he grew arrayed on his dinner plate.
Choose whole grain cereals and breads.
Whole grains contain significantly more fiber than do processed grains. They’re also good sources of vitamin E, B vitamins including folic acid, and other important nutrients. One of the most quick and healthful breakfasts you can fix for your child is whole grain cereal with reduced-fat milk; read labels to find a brand that delivers at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and isn’t loaded with sugar. For even more fiber, vitamins, and minerals, top it off with raisins or sliced strawberries. When shopping for bread, don’t rely on appearance: You may think that the more brown the bread looks, the more whole grain it contains. But some brown loaves simply have added food coloring. Furthermore, a stamp reading “wheat bread” doesn’t mean whole wheat and even a loaf labeled “whole wheat” may mix in more refined flour than you want. It’s wise, therefore, to read the fine print, seeing whether ingredients high in the list include whole wheat flour, dark rye flour, rolled oats, oat bran, or wheat germ. Just one slice of a wholesome grainy bread from the health food store may contain as much as 4 grams of fiber.
Pull a pasta switcheroo.
Whole grain pastas, available at most natural and many regular food stores, have a lot more fiber than the standard supermarket versions, so it’s worth seeing if your child will eat them. When the spaghetti is swimming in his favorite tomato sauce, he may not even notice that you’ve substituted whole wheat for white. Whole wheat or spelt lasagna noodles are even harder to detect amidst the cheese, veggies, meat, and sauce. If your child does object to the chewy texture or stronger taste, look for new lines of pasta that are half whole grain and half refined, sold in many gourmet and health food stores. Or you could stick with standard pasta and simply use veggies and legumes to pump up the fiber in the recipe; try adding peas to macaroni and cheese or sneaking shredded carrots or diced zucchini into spaghetti sauce.
Add beans to the menu.
Beans and lentils are terrific sources of fiber (not to mention protein, B vitamins, iron, and other crucial nutrients). Even a quarter cup of kidney beans, for instance, provides a hefty dose of fiber. Dried lentils cook up quickly, but dried beans usually require soaking followed by an hour or so of simmering. If you’re too busy for that, just buy canned beans, opting for low-sodium versions when available or else emptying the can into a strainer and rinsing the beans off. Try black bean chili or three-bean salad. Slip beans into your Tuesday-night casserole and Wednesday-night stew. Nutty-tasting garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) make a pretty good substitute for meat in pasta dishes. If your child likes falafel, you can roll mashed and spiced-up garbanzos into balls and bake them — the results are much more healthful than the deep-fried falafel served at restaurants. Kids usually love baked beans, which make a great side dish; to keep the fat content low, buy a brand without added meat like franks or pork.
Choose high-fiber snacks.
Keep carrot sticks, celery sticks, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and popcorn handy for when your child gets hungry between meals. When he has to have a cookie, offer a fig bar, a raisin biscuit, or an oatmeal cookie. Look for whole wheat crackers with no hydrogenated oils, and top them with crunchy peanut butter. If he likes pretzels, there are versions with added oat bran — don’t worry, he won’t taste it!
Experiment with grains.
Venture beyond whole wheat: Oats, millet, buckwheat, barley, brown rice, bulgur, triticale, and amaranth are some of the fiber-rich options. For a warming breakfast, oatmeal’s an obvious choice, but you can also make hot cereal by simmering buckwheat with a little amaranth (rich in calcium, iron, and complete protein); stir in chopped fruit and a dusting of brown sugar. Tabbouleh (bulgur wheat mixed with parsley, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, onion, and tomatoes) is a wonderful side dish, but kids’ taste buds aren’t always ready for it, so try making a simple pilaf with bulgur. If your child doesn’t care for brown rice, see if he’ll go for a mixture of brown and white (to cook them together, start the brown kind first and add the white for the last 20 minutes). Millet is versatile: You can use it to make a hot cereal, a pilaf, a casserole, or a pudding. For a sweet fiber-ful dessert, mix millet with honey, a drop of vanilla extract, chopped dates, and yogurt.