By : Apeksha Thakkar Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Nutrigenomic Counselor
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Dietary Fiber for Children, Why and How?

Irregular bowel habits of children are a rising concern among parents. And unless a child suffers from an illness or infection, not many parents take gut (digestive system) health seriously. It plays an important role in the overall wellbeing of a child.

One of the major reasons for poor gut health is a development of unhealthy eating practices among children, resulting in inadequate consumption of nutrients, including fibre. Everyone knows that fibre is good for us but many do not know why?

(doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0272-3.)

So What is Fiber ?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate  that the body does not digest (break down). Fiber can be soluble or insoluble:

Soluble fibre is found in foods like fruit, oats, barley and beans

Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the stool and promotes regular bowel movement. It is found in foods like whole grains, lentils, wheat bran, vegetables and nuts. 

Both kinds of fiber are essential in a healthy diet.

Why is Fibre important for Children?

Several studies have reported the beneficial effects of higher intake of dietary fiber on overall quality of health among children and adults.

(https://dx.doi.org/10.1186%2Fs12887-019-1822-y)

A diet high in fiber

are naturally rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

increases feelings of fullness.

helps prevent or relieve constipation. Several studies have demonstrated that dietary fiber intake has a positive effect on children suffering from constipation.                                                         

(DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.113.3.e259 )

adds roughage to stool which helps to clean out the bacteria and the other wastes from the intestine.

Helps keep the gut healthy as they support the growth of pro-biotics (good bacteria) in the gut which are essential for digestive health.

Lowers the risk of developing constipation, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease during childhood. (https://dx.doi.org/10.1186%2Fs12887-019-1822-y)(https://bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12887-019-1822-y)

 

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Fibre in Children

 

 

 

 

Dietary Fibre (g/day )

 

Children

1-3  years

4-6 years

7-9 years

15

20

26

Boys

10-12 years

33

Girls

10-12 years

31

 

Tips and Tricks to boost your child’s fibre intake.

Children are in general fussy eaters and it is not at all easy for a parent to make your child eat healthy. So a mother has to be creative and experiment with food in the kitchen to get them to eat right.

   1. Venture beyond the staples: Oats, buckwheat, barley, bulgur and amaranth are some of the fiber-rich options.

Add a combination of the above instead of just wheat flour to make a dough.

Replace white rice with brown rice for recipes.

Make wholegrain pancakes, cookies, muffins high in fibre; add some dried fruit or nuts and bake.

Use wholegrain noodles, pasta and multigrain breads instead of plain ones.

    2.  The versatile Millet are high fibre foods, powerhouse of nutrition, that offer myriad health benefits. e.g. ragi, jowar. bajra. kodo, sama Add these millets in your everyday cooking.

(https://millets.res.in/m_recipes/Nutritional_health_benefits_millets.pdf)

    3. Beans, Lentils and Pulses are terrific sources of fiber and other crucial nutrients. Slip them into stews, parathas, pancakes, pastas, chaats Substitute legumes for meat in pasta dishes.

    4. Seeds, dried fruits and nuts such as almonds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and raisins are good sources of added fibre. Add them to breakfast cereals, homemade cookies, muffins, smoothie, soups, casserole, etc.

    5. Expose children to a variety of local vegetables early on. Add them to sandwiches, pizza, and pastas. Add cauliflower tops, radish leaves to dals, stir fries, curries or chutney, instead of discarding  them.

    6. Encourage children to have whole fruits instead of drinking juice. For picky eaters, make mixed fruit salsa, custards puddings, popsicles with fruit chunks, smoothies, milkshakes etc.

    7. Let them consume fruits and vegetables, preferable with skin. Wash them well before serving.

    8. Teach them to snack healthy. Keep carrot sticks, fresh fruits, mixed nuts, whole grain crackers or popcorns handy for them to munch on. GRD Bix is healthy protein snack which helps bridging    protein gap and to boost immunity with 18 essential vitamins and minerals. GRD Bix comes in delicious milk, evergreen Vanilla and rich chocolate flavour which are loved by children across the world.

    9. Choose foods that have 3 grams of fiber or more. Check nutrition labels.

   10. Add fibre gradually to children’s diet  as too much fiber too soon can cause some uncomfortable GI side effects, like bloating or gas.

   11. Kids should drink plenty of water as they increase fiber intake. Water helps move fiber through the intestines smoothly.

                                                                   

                                                                                 

Recipes with High Fibre for Children

Mixed Millet Adai (Serves 3 )

Adai are a popular South India delicacy .This healthier, fibre rich version has the goodness of a number of millets .Introduce your child to our very own version of crepes.

Ingredients

½ cup foxtail millet (kangni)

½ cup kodo millet

½ cup barnyard millet (sanwa)

½ cup bengal gram dal (channa )

½ cup tur dal

½ cup sprouted whole green gram ( moong)

1 cup roughly chopped Spinach

1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)

2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped

½ inch ginger

2 tsp curry leaves, chopped

a pinch asafoetida

Salt to taste

1 tsp oil

Method

Soak the millets and dals separately except sprouted moong in water for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, drain the millets and dals and add it to the mixer. 

Grind together with sprouted moong, ginger, fennel seeds, curry leaves with little water to make a coarse batter.

Add salt and asafoetida, mix well.

Then add chopped chillies, spinach, and mix thoroughly.

Heat a thick tawa and brush it with oil.

Pour a ladle of the batter and spread it out .It should be slightly thicker than a dosa.Cook on medium flame.

Flip over, drizzle a little oil around it and cook until it turns golden brown on both sides.

Repeat with the rest of the batter

Serve hot with a piece of jaggery or chutney.

Nutrition Information per piece

Energy

100 kcal

Carbohydrates

37 gms

Proteins

7.2 gms

Fats

1  gms

Fibre

3.6  gms

 

Oat Parfait with Fruits (Serves 2)

Adai are a popular South India delicacy . This healthier, fibre rich version has the goodness of a number of millets .Introduce your child to our very own version of crepes.

Ingredients

½ cup foxtail millet (kangni)

½ cup kodo millet

½ cup barnyard millet (sanwa)

½ cup bengal gram dal (channa )

½ cup tur dal

½ cup sprouted whole green gram ( moong)

1 cup roughly chopped Spinach

1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)

2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped

½ inch ginger

2 tsp curry leaves, chopped

a pinch asafoetida

Salt to taste

1 tsp oil

Method

Soak the millets and dals separately except sprouted moong in water for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, drain the millets and dals and add it to the mixer. 

Grind together with sprouted moong, ginger, fennel seeds, curry leaves with little water to make a coarse batter.

Add salt and asafoetida, mix well.

Then add chopped chillies, spinach, and mix thoroughly.

Heat a thick tawa and brush it with oil.

Pour a ladle of the batter and spread it out .It should be slightly thicker than a dosa.Cook on medium flame.

Flip over, drizzle a little oil around it and cook until it turns golden brown on both sides.

Repeat with the rest of the batter

Serve hot with a piece of jaggery or chutney.

Nutrition Information per piece

Energy

100 kcal

Carbohydrates

37 gms

Proteins

7.2 gms

Fats

1  gms

Fibre

3.6  gms

 

Oat Parfait with Fruits (Serves 2)

 A jar full of nutrients and flavour. Add your kid’s favourite fruits and let them dig into this delicious blend of goodness.

Ingredients

3 tbsp whisked hung curd (chilled)

1 cup chopped fresh fruits 

1 ½ tbsp Instant Oats (Oatmeal) 

½ tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp honey or as required

¼ cup Water

1 ½ tbsp cereal whole wheat flakes

1 tbsp almonds or pistachios

Method

Combine oats with water in a pan and boil until cooked.

Add vanilla essence and honey, stir and allow it to cool.

Take a tall glass and pour the cooked oats in it.Add the whisked yogurt in the glass.

Add a few mixed fruits in the glass without stirring .Top it up with wheat flakes

Repeat the layering until you fill ¾ th of the glass.

Garnish with chopped fruits and nuts.Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information per Serving

 

Energy

232 kcal

Carbohydrates

43 gms

Proteins

8.6 gms

Fats

2.9 gms

Fibre

3.4  gms

 

 

 

 

 

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