Fiber Up!

High fiber diets

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.
  • 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.
High fiber diets
Food SourceServing SizeGrams of Dietary Fiber
Peas1/2 cup9
Beans, baked1/2 cup7
Chili with beans1 cup7
Almonds2 oz.7
Broccoli, cooked3/4 cup7
Peanuts, dry roast2 oz.7
Peanut butter2 TBS2
Whole wheat bread2 slices4
Corn1/2 cup3
Popcorn, popped2 cups2
Potato, baked, no skin1 medium2
Carrot, raw1 medium3
Strawberries1/2 cup2
Pear1 medium4
Banana1 large3
Blueberries1/2 cup1.5
Apple1 medium3
Apricots5 dried halves1.5
Kiwi1 large3
Applesauce1/2 cup1

Obesity Trends

Obesity Trends

The public health alarm has sounded and most people are well aware of the increase in overweight children in the U.S. The questions we are grappling with – why is this trend occurring and what does it mean for the future of our children?

Answering the first part of this question could be stated very simply – too many calories and too little activity, but in reality it is more complex. The media marketing food and sedentary activities to our children, cheap processed food choices, the ease of fast food for stressed out parents, schools offering sodas and candies, communities that make driving necessary and walking almost impossible, and the list could go on and on.

But who is ultimately responsible for the problem?

In many cases, we need to take a good look at the family. It is not the overweight 6-year-old who is doing the grocery shopping or running to the local drive-thru to pick up dinner. Parents need to take the ultimate responsibility and this can be taken in many ways despite the challenges. Parents are still in control and they can set limits. For example, examine what foods are brought into the house (do the parents understand how to read a nutrition label?), set limits on media (does a child need a TV in their own bedroom?), decide what types of restaurants are frequented (there are better choices out there), and get involved with the schools (school boards need to hear from parents voicing concerns about food choices in the schools).  

Obesity Trends

The problems for the future of our children is not about the cosmetics of looking skinny, but more about the health impact and risks for diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. The concern with diabetes is that overweight children are being struck with a disease that was considered to be a grown-up disease for old people.

As waistlines of our children continue to expand, their lifespan will be shortened and dollars spent on healthcare in treating their diseases will skyrocket. Is this the future we wish for our children?  We as parents can not only take responsibility for what occurs in our homes, but should be out there advocating with the schools, restaurants, food industry, businesses and our government to ask them to support us to keep our kids healthy.  No one wants to be blamed for the childhood obesity epidemic, but if everyone claims they are not to blame and chooses to do nothing, well-needed changes will not happen.