Fiber Up!

Most children today are not getting enough fiber in their diets. High fiber diets may reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease and digestive disorders. In addition, fiber helps regulate the bowels and can help lower cholesterol. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are all good fiber sources. High fiber diets tend to be lower in fat and have also been found to curb overeating.

To calculate your child’s fiber needs:

add your child’s age + 5 = fiber requirement

(e.g. for an 8-year-old, daily fiber intake should be 8 + 5 = 13 grams of fiber a day).

Adults and teens should consume at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day.

Here are some tips for finding higher fiber foods:

  • In breads and cereals, look for whole grain and whole wheat listed as the first ingredient. See Shopping Smart to learn how to find whole grain breads.
  • Find cereals with whole grains and at least 4-5 grams of fiber per serving. Some brands include: Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Wheaties, Toasty-O’s, Grape Nuts, Raisin Bran, wheatena, oatmeal and oat bran. Mix healthier cereals with your child’s less healthy cereals to get some benefits of added fiber.
  • Eat brown rice instead of white.
  • Find whole wheat pasta, amaranth pasta or quinoa pasta (the last two are available at health food stores).
  • Add fiber to meals by adding kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, lima beans. Add them to salads; soups; main dishes like burritos or tacos or chili; mash and mix in with meatloaf and burgers.
  • Add wheat bran or Fiproflax (available at most health food stores) to casseroles, meat loaf, baked goods, pancakes, and cereal.
  • Add All-Bran cereal to muffin recipes.
  • Drink plenty of fluids when you are eating fiber. This will help offset the gas, cramping and bloating that may occur.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables with the peels on have more fiber than cooked or canned.
  • Dried fruits are good fiber sources, especially figs, apricots and dates.
  • Discover other whole grains and find ways to cook them. Whole grains are getting easier to find these days. Look for them at your health foods stores. May stores have bins of raw grains where you can buy a small quantity. Some grains to try: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, kamut, millet, oats and quinoa.
Food Source Serving Size Grams of Dietary Fiber
Peas 1/2 cup 9
Beans, baked 1/2 cup 7
Chili with beans 1 cup 7
Almonds 2 oz. 7
Broccoli, cooked 3/4 cup 7
Peanuts, dry roast 2 oz. 7
Peanut butter 2 TBS 2
Whole wheat bread 2 slices 4
Corn 1/2 cup 3
Popcorn, popped 2 cups 2
Potato, baked, no skin 1 medium 2
Carrot, raw 1 medium 3
Strawberries 1/2 cup 2
Pear 1 medium 4
Banana 1 large 3
Blueberries 1/2 cup 1.5
Apple 1 medium 3
Apricots 5 dried halves 1.5
Kiwi 1 large 3
Applesauce 1/2 cup 1