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