Feeding kids seems to be one of the trickiest parts of parenting. You finally get the hang of your little one's weird and wonderful preferences and they change again! From toddler to tween, it can be a struggle to make sure children are eating healthy amidst whatever flight of fancy has stricken their taste buds this week.
One of the nutritional necessities that often gets overlooked is fiber. Fiber is essential for a healthy and regular digestive system, heart health and cholesterol levels. Kids need between 10 and 20 grams of fiber daily, while teens need up to 25 grams.
Since most kids aren't really keen on fiber cereals and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, kale, cabbage, etc), what's a parent to do? Turns out there are some sure fire ways to increase fiber intake for your kids and they won't even realize you're making them eat healthy!
Whole fruits and Veggies
The truth is, most Americans simply don't eat enough fruits and vegetables in a day. Our food culture is very heavy in processed, quick grab, on-the-go foods. To avoid the pitfalls of prepackaged foods, set aside time to prep your fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as you get home from the grocery store.
Portion out strawberries or raspberries in small breathable containers so they're ready to go when you need to pack them in your child's lunch or for a snack. Slice carrots and celery with a fun crinkle cutter tool and they're ready to serve with hummus or peanut butter. You can even pre-slice apples, just spritz them with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning and you won't have any kid complaints.
You can also buy small apples or pears that fit nicely in your little one's hands which makes them much more enticing. Leaving the skin on helps increase the fiber content. If all else fails you can turn to dried fruits like apples, plums or apricots but be sure to choose natural unsulfered options for the healthiest option.
Do you know what one of the best fiber-rich foods is that kids and teens alike already love? Popcorn. It's true! Not the fake butter filled microwave packets, of course, but freshly popped organic popcorn is just as easily prepared in an air popper. Healthy, delicious, and fun - the kid will never suspect a thing.
Other high fiber snacks that are quick, portable, and incredibly flavorful include nuts, seeds and cereal. Sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts and almonds are great on their own or added to meals like salads. Don't discount dry cereal either. Some are lightly sweetened, true, but their fiber content sometimes outweighs the sugar content.
When all else fails
If you have a truly picky eater, a child with food intolerances or allergies, or just can't bring yourself to wrestle over one more meal, there are a variety of fiber supplements that will get the job done. For younger kids, or the persnickety teen, there are fiber enriched gummy vitamins or tablets. If you really want to be sneaky you can add flavorless fiber powder to drinks or smoothies and then you're really conquering parenting skills like a pro.
High fiber snacks guide: