Most of us know that fiber is really key to having a healthy digestive system, but more and more Americans are consuming diets of highly-refined and processed foods. American kids today are having trouble getting the whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables that their bodies’ need for great health.
Over the years, I have heard many parents share about the constant battle they face in solving bowel-movement issues. Some kids have issues that last for weeks at a time and others have gone with digestive pain for years. My heart goes out to these families.
Eating should be a fun and adventurous experience for our kids, but for many it is downright painful.
The Role of Fiber
A high-fiber diet is essential to digestive health and the long-term health of the colon. The average person should be getting 20-35 grams of fiber per day. This includes children.
Just 8g Fiber =
half-cup Broccoli +
half-cup Oatmeal +
1 whole Apple w/skin +
A healthy bowel is one that eliminates the same number of meals that it takes in each day. So, if your child is eating three meals a day, then he/she needs to be eliminating that same amount. This should always be the goal.
What’s A Parent To Do?
The goal is to increase the number of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables in our kids’ diets on a daily basis.
Fruits are probably the easiest to increase because our kids love the natural sweetness they bring, but the health emphasis needs to be on vegetables. It can be a challenge if you have a picky eater , but there are creative ways to help this area as well.
And whole grains and vegetables don’t have to taste bad. There are so many flavorful recipes out there, and it really does not take much to spice up a dish of vegetables. Believe me, I know.
Getting more fiber just requires some easy food substitutions. Do not feel that you have to change everything at one time; that can be overwhelming. Just choose one new substitution each week, if you like. You are still making great progress that way!
Food Substitutions with Higher Fiber
|If you use…||Substitute with…|
|white rice||brown/wild rice|
|bread||whole-grain bread with no less than 3g/fiber per slice|
|cold cereal||oatmeal OR cereal with no less than 7g/fiber per serving|
|canned fruits/veggies||fresh or frozen option|
|pre-packaged snacks/cookies||fresh fruit/veggie option that your kids enjoy|
|chocolate milk||all-natural chocolate Meal Shake option with 3g fiber/serving|
|fast-food meals||(same as above)|
|meat recipes||Find several bean recipes that your kids will enjoy as well and interchange on occasion|