Fibre is the part of plant foods that our body does not fully digest. Fibre has been shown to promote bowel regularity and softness, help us feel full longer, control blood sugars and improve heart health. For kids, it is great to introduce high fibre foods early on so that they learn to prefer these foods right from the start!
Here are some easy tips to help your family eat more fibre:
- Start the day with a fibre-rich cereal. It should have three to five grams or more of fibre per serving and preferably five grams or less of sugar. Great choices include bran, oatmeal, cream of wheat and Shreddies. Further boost the fibre levels by adding nuts or seeds (such as hemp or pumpkin seeds) to your cereal.
- Choose whole wheat or multigrain bread with three to five grams or more of fibre per serving. For kids who are not used to eating whole grain breads, start slowly by using one slice white with one slice whole grain when making sandwiches. Better yet, get them eating whole grains right when you start introducing solid foods and you will never have to face this dilemma.
- Eat a variety of whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, oats, quinoa, wild rice and whole grain pasta.
- When baking, replace white flour with 100 per cent whole wheat flour.
- Add a few tablespoons of wheat bran, wheat germ, oat bran or ground flax seed to breakfast cereals, baked goods and casseroles to increase their fibre content.
Fruits and Vegetables
- All fruit and vegetables have some fibre, so just by eating more vegetables and fruit you will get more fibre. It is important to remember that juice does not typically provide fibre, so stick with the whole fruit or vegetable instead of the juice.
- If your child is fussy about vegetables, don’t give up. Studies show that children may need lots of exposure to less preferred foods before they are willing to accept them. Give your child lots of opportunities to try different vegetables prepared in different ways. For example vegetables can be presented cooked, raw, whole, diced, cubed, in strips, in chunks or grated. A different presentation might be just what your child needs to decide to try a new vegetable.
- Dips and sauces can also encourage kids to eat more vegetables and fruit. Dips such as hummus, baba ganoush and guacamole are also sources of fibre, so you can get a double whammy of fibre that way.
- Fruits that are particularly high sources of fibre include avocados, raspberries, pears, apples, oranges and dried fruit such as raisins and prunes. Try to leave the skin on when possible, since most of the fibre is there.
- Vegetables that are particularly high sources of fibre include broccoli, potatoes (with skin), peas, carrots, snap peas and brussel sprouts.
- Legumes (beans, lentils, chick peas) are a great source of fibre. Add them to soups or stews or try adding some legume based vegetarian recipes to your weekly menu. Parents are often surprised how much their children actually enjoy beans.
- Nuts and seeds also pack a good punch of fibre. If you are not worried about nut allergies, a sprinkle of nuts or seeds can be added to cereals, yogurt or salads. For kids’ lunches, try a school-safe pumpkin seed butter and jam sandwich as a fun option.
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