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Healthy Snacking: Kids Need Fiber

Healthy Kid Snacks

After a long day at school, kids need to refuel their bodies whether it's for sports practice, homework or just playtime. Knowing the right type of snacks to fuel your child with is important. For me, with my three kids having different dietary needs, do three different sports, and have three different personalities, I need to make balanced snacking fun for them - even on the go.

Incorporating Fiber in Your Child's Diet

Some of the ways I make snacking convenient, healthy and fun include:

  • Use coffee travel mugs (disposable or reusable) for the perfect on-the-go container.
    My kids like to fill them up with snacks including Frosted Mini Wheats (which pack a whopping 6g of fiber per serving!).

  • Use a muffin pan or ice cube tray for a change of pace.
    Fill each section with a different finger food - nuts, dried fruit, favorite Kellogg's cereal, or cut up Kellogg's Special K Blueberry bars, or Kellogg's Nutri-Grain cereal bars (both have 3g of fiber) and let the kids have fun making their own combinations.

  • Make tasty cracker sandwiches.
    Try All-Bran Multi-Grain Crackers (5g of fiber), sliced apple or banana and a little peanut butter or hazelnut spread.

Why is fiber so important for kids?

I found this great article on KelloggsNutrition.com that clearly explains the importance of fiber in childrens' diets:

Why is fiber so important for kids? Fiber helps keep kids healthy by:

  • Helping to keep the digestive system healthy so it can absorb nutrients and turn food into energy.
  • Developing and maintaining a healthy population of gastrointestinal bacteria.
  • Helping to prevent of constipation. 1
  • Establishing a healthful eating habit early in life, which is more likely to be sustained throughout. 1

In addition, observational studies have shown that children with higher-fiber intakes are less likely to be overweight than those with low-fiber intakes. Higher-fiber diets during childhood have also been shown to be inversely related to blood cholesterol levels. 2

How do you know how much fiber your child needs?

My kids are 9, 12 and 14 and I wasn't sure how much daily fiber was recommended for each of them until I discovered this easy formula (see below) on KelloggsNutrition.com. It looks like I will be finding ways to sneak in a little extra fiber in their daily meals and snacks.

Unfortunately, nine out of 10 children are not getting the recommended amount of fiber. A simple way to help children take small steps towards meeting their recommended intake is to set achievable goals. Many nutrition professionals recommend the "age plus 5" approach. Simply start with the age of the child and add 5. The sum offers a good rule of thumb for fiber needed each day. For example, a 5-year-old should strive to get at least 10 grams of fiber per day (5 years + 5 grams = 10 grams per day). After the age of 19, the guidelines for adults (25g per day for women and 38g per day for men) should be followed

fiber in diet

Professional organizations, such as the American Dietetic Association and American Heart Association recommend that children 2 years of age and over adopt a healthy eating style similar to adults. 3, 4 In other words, children need to eat a variety of foods from each food group, including a variety of fiber-containing foods like grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.

For more information on the importance of fiber in kids' diets check out KelloggsNutrition.com.

 

References:

Pereira et al (2001) Dietary Fiber and body weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am 48: 969-980

Williams CL et al (2008) Childhood diet, overweight and CVD risk facts: the Healthy Start Project. Prev Cardiol 11: 11-20

American Dietetic Association (2008) Nutrition Guidance for Health Children Ages 2 to 11 years J Am Diet Assoc 108:1038-1047

American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) Guide to your Childs Nutrition

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