As an adult, you probably already know about the many benefits of eating fiber-containing foods. Weight management, digestive health, and cancer prevention are just a few of the many benefits. But the average American consumes just 16 grams of fiber per day, falling short of the recommended 25–30 grams.
Fiber is just as important for kids as it is for adults…
For toddlers, 19 grams of fiber per day is considered optimal.
Children ages 4–8 years: 25 grams per day.
Girls and boys ages 9–13 years: 26–31 grams per day.
Teens 14–18: 38 grams per day.
What is Fiber?
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods that pushes through the digestive system, absorbing water along the way. There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble – and both are present in all plant foods. Insoluble fiber promotes regularity and the elimination of waste. Soluble fiber promotes healthy blood cholesterol and glucose levels.
Good Sources of Fiber
Plant foods are the number one source of fiber, with fruits and vegetables making the top of the list. Whole grains like oats, barley, and whole wheat are also high in fiber, along with beans, nuts, and legumes. Foods that contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving are considered “high-fiber.” Those with slightly less at 2.5 – 5 grams are “good sources.”
Ways to Boost Fiber
Fiber quickly adds up in a healthy, well-balanced diet. Try some of the high-fiber ideas listed here:
• Whole grain waffle and Greek yogurt topped fresh berries
• Whole wheat toast and apple slices paired with peanut butter
• Oatmeal or cold cereal (with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving), paired with banana slices
• Whole wheat macaroni noodles mixed with peas and cottage cheese, plus a fresh fruit salad
• Sandwich made with whole wheat bread, plus baby carrots and sliced apples.
• Roasted chicken served with brown rice and steamed broccoli
• Whole wheat pasta tossed in olive oil with cherry tomatoes, white beans, and tuna
Even children who are picky eaters can get the fiber they need, often from preferred foods like fresh fruit and whole grain crackers.
KID-FAVORITE SOURCES OF FIBER
• Medium apple – 3 grams
• 1 cup Multigrain Cheerios – 3 grams
• 1 cup brown rice – 3 grams
• 1 slice whole wheat bread – 2 – 3 grams
• ½ cup oatmeal – 4 grams
• Whole grain waffle – 3.5 grams
• ½ cup peas – 4 grams
• ½ cup lentils – 5 grams
• ½ cup black beans – 6 grams
• 3 cups popped corn – 2 – 3 grams
Offer a variety of foods everyday, including plenty of plant-based foods, and your kid(s) will get the fiber they need.
Anne Marie Kuchera, one of our Kids Plus Nutrition Consultants, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Dietitian.