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Back to School Time – Good Timing for Fiber

Fiber, the indigestible part of plant foods that pushes through the digestive system, promotes regularity and the elimination of waste from our bodies, and healthy blood cholesterol and glucose levels.

Fiber and kids

While recommendations for fiber intake, and their benefits, are often touted for adults, fiber is equally important for children and adolescents.  Fiber d’Lish was even originally formulated for kids. And, getting accustomed to fiber-containing foods in childhood shapes tastes and habits for healthy eating patterns throughout life.  Beginning with ages 1 – 3 years old, 19 grams of fiber per day is considered optimal. Children ages 4 – 8, 25 grams per day. Girls and boys, ages 9 – 13 years benefit from 26 – 31 grams per day, and the recommendation jumps to 38 grams per day for youth ages 14 – 18.  While the recommendations for children may sound high, the numbers swiftly accumulate over the course of a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Making Fiber part of the School Day

The routine and meal structure of school days offers ample opportunity to include fiber-containing foods, particularly for breakfast, lunch and snacks.  In general, choose the least processed foods with an emphasis on plant foods – especially fruits and veggies.

Fiber for Breakfast

High-fiber choices early in the day set the stage for healthy choices all day long.  These three breakfasts offer at least five grams of fiber.

  • Whole grain waffle and Greek yogurt topped fresh berries
  • Whole wheat toast and apple slices paired with peanut butter
  • Bowl of oatmeal paired with banana slices

Fiber for Lunch

If packing school lunch is part of your child’s routine, take advantage of this opportunity to include simple, nutritious and high-fiber foods.

  • Turkey and spinach wrap, baby carrots and sliced apples
  • Hummus and whole wheat pita, fresh berries and cherry tomatoes
  • Whole wheat macaroni noodles mixed with peas and cottage cheese, and fresh fruit chunks

Fiber for Snacks

Make fresh fruit and/or a serving of vegetables, a standard part of every snack. This will easily round out their daily fiber recommendations while enjoying fresh and wholesome foods. A great example, is sugar snap peas or sliced cucumbers.  Another great option is giving your child half of a Fiber d’Lish bar to satisfy his or her sweet tooth while proving 6 grams of fiber! Fiber d’Lish has the texture of a soft-baked cookie and comes in 8 different flavors with varying levels of sweetness. Fiber d’Lish bars are convenient and crowd-pleasing high fiber snacks to carry around. And, keep in mind that kids who are involved in shopping for, selecting, and preparing their food are often more willing to try and eat new items.

 

References:

2015 – 20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, RD, LPC is a registered dietitian, and both a licensed nutritionist and licensed professional counselor. She manages community-based obesity prevention and preventive health and wellness initiatives through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.