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High fibre diet for children

fibre; nutrition; bread; cereals; vegetables; fruit; constipation;

Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet. It helps to stimulate bowel function and assists food in moving through the bowel. Extra fibre can help when constipation is a problem.

Contents

What is fibre?

Dietary fibre is the part of food that is not digested by the body. It is found only in plant foods, particularly in skins, seeds and stalks of fruits and vegetables. For example it is in the bran (or outside layers) of cereal grains, such as in wholegrain and wholemeal breads and cereals. There is no fibre in animal foods.

Why is fibre important?

Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet. It helps to stimulate bowel function and assists food in moving through the bowel. Extra fibre can help when constipation is a problem.

How can I increase the fibre in my child's diet?

The following are some easy ways to increase fibre.

Bread and cereals

Choose:

  • wholemeal, wholegrain, multigrain varieties
  • wholemeal muffins or crumpets
  • wholemeal cracker biscuits, eg. wholemeal saladas*
  • wholemeal spaghetti, macaroni and brown rice.

Breakfast cereals

  • Choose wholegrain varieties eg. Weetbix*, Vitabrits*, Shredded Wheat*, Mini Wheats*, Sultana Bran*, Bran Flakes* etc.
  • Porridge made with rolled oats is popular in winter.

Dried peas, beans and lentils

Kidney beans, lima bean, soy beans, chick peas, lentils and baked beans are all good sources of fibre. Where possible use them in salads, soups and stews.

Fruit

Encourage fresh fruit (fruit juice is not a good source of fibre). Where possible eat the skin of the fruit. Dried fruits also contain fibre.

Vegetables

  • Try to include plenty of fresh vegetables every day.
  • Try salads for a change from cooked vegetables.

Snacks

These could include:

  • fresh and dried fruit
  • wholemeal bread or toast
  • wholemeal cracker biscuits
  • home-made cake or biscuits with wholemeal flour and/or dried fruit.

Fluid

Dietary fibre absorbs water which helps to make the poo (bowel motion) soft and easier to pass. So it is important to drink plenty of fluid. Tap water is the best drink for children.

A special note for younger children

Young children are at risk of choking on some foods as they do not have the back teeth needed to chew and grind lumps of food properly. These are not fully developed until around 4 years of age.

To reduce the risk of choking:

  • Do not give foods that can break off into hard pieces. Avoid raw carrot, celery sticks and apple pieces, for example. These foods should be grated, cooked or mashed.
  • Do not give popcorn, nuts, hard lollies, corn chips or other similar foods to young children.
  • Sausages, frankfurts and other meats should be cut into small pieces. Tough skins on frankfurts and other sausages should be removed.

Reference

The information in this topic comes from a pamphlet called 'High fibre diet for children' developed by the Nutrition Department at the Women's and Children's Hospital, South Australia.

*Please Note: The brand names of products referred to in any of these parent health guidelines are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all commercially available products on the market. However, those names which are mentioned are well-known brands and readily available on the market in Australia.

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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