Your kid’s belly has a weird power. Occasionally, out of the blue, you are compelled to tickle it with gusto. Other times, as if hypnotized, you might go for the full zerbert. And you’re a grown ass man! Comparatively, your belly is only good for storing calories from beer and an improvised trampoline for your 3-year-old.
Considering the awesome power of your kid’s tummy, you might want to take good care of it, lest you feel its wrath (i.e. diarrhea, constipation, unchecked growth). How do you do that? By feeding it a high fiber diet via your kid’s face. Here’s the why and how.
A dietician will gladly tell you that fiber is one of the cornerstones of ensuring your kid has a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract. And a healthy GI tract is one of the cornerstones of having a healthy kid. So mind their GI, Joe.
Dietary fiber does a couple of crucial things. In our era of obese kids, one of fiber’s most important functions for your little cookie monster is making sure they don’t overeat. Foods high in fiber can help your kid feel full faster, which means they’ll be less likely to bogart your snacks.
Foods high in fiber also help prevent constipation. So, if your kid is turning red trying to pinch one off on the training toilet, it’s time to supplement their diet.
The other amazing benefits of fiber include regulating blood sugar and cholesterol. It may also fight some forms of cancer. Finally, foods high in dietary fiber are usually packed with vitamins your kid needs.
There are a few ways to calculate how much fiber your kid needs. The easiest way is to simply make sure they have at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, along with their regularly healthy meals (French fries don’t count as a vegetable here).
If that’s too wishy-washy for you, and you prefer to make eating an exact science, there’s another option. The guideline is to determine the grams of fiber by adding 5 to their age. So if they’re 2, you’ll want to make sure they’re getting 7 grams of fiber a day. Easy peasy.
(Note: this does not mean you should be getting 35 grams of fiber a day. The adult recommendation levels off at 25).
Like all things parent, your biggest struggle will be getting your kid to get this stuff in their face without fuss. Happily, many high fiber foods are things your kid may already dig, like apples and berries. There are plenty of lists of high fiber Items out there to get your oriented.
But for some picky kids, you’ll need to get a bit devious. Here are some subversive tactics to make them eat their fiber and like it.
This the easiest way to make high fiber happen. You can do things like hide flax seed in a smoothie. Or you can slip some high fiber whole grains into homemade hamburger patties and sausages. But the best hiding place is breakfast. Nobody can detect fiber in waffles and pancakes under a gallon of syrup.
Introduce Count Chocula to … Bran-kenstein? Instead of just pouring cereal that’s a treat and combine with a cereal that’s kind of a chore (looking at you shredded wheat). Have them sprinkle the Boo Berries over fiber flakes. Or during lunch or dinner, they can rock veg by pairing it with some ranch. And keep their favorite sandwich filling, but replace the white bread with a high fiber loaf.
Almost every low fiber food has a high fiber counterpart. Your kid will probably never notice the switch. So substitute whole grain pasta for the regular spaghetti. Make brown rice instead of white. And if they start catching on, just tell pretend this was some kind of Folgers “switch.”
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Your kid can also get too much fiber. It’s highly unlikely but possible. The key is to make sure they’re eating fiber while drinking water (well, not the same exact time, but you know). Fiber needs water to keep moving through the system rather than binding it up.
In the end, don’t stress out too much about it. If you’re feeding your kid a good diet full of greens and fruits and lean proteins, you’re probably good. With a little care, the belly overlord will continue to make sure that tickles are all that it requires.