Pediatric Nutrition

High Fiber Diet

Fiber is the part of the plants that gives them structure. It is also called roughage, bulk, or unavailable carbohydrate. Fiber is provided through eating whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. To figure out how much fiber your child (age 3 - 18) needs, take the child's age and add 5. The sum is the number of grams of fiber your child should have each day. For example, for a 3-year-old child: 3 + 5 = 8 grams of fiber.

What a high fiber diet does:

  • Increases the amount and weight of stools
  • Increases movement of the gastrointestinal tract, making you go to the bathroom more often

A high fiber diet should be used to:

  • Relieve and/or prevent constipation
  • Increase stool volume
  • Help manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Basic Guidelines

  • Include a variety of high fiber food sources. Do not eat the same foods all of the time. Variety is important to not only get in enough fiber, but also important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Use whole wheat flour. Replace white flour with whole wheat in many of your favorite recipes. Use the following measurements to substitute for 1 cup of white flour:
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour minus 2 tablespoons OR
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus 1/2 cup white flour OR
    • 3/4 cup white flour and 1/4 cup wheat germ or 1/4 cup 100% bran

      Also, try to eat 3 or more servings of breads and cereals made from whole grains and bran.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are good for you in more ways than one. They provide vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid and fiber. Try to eat 5 or more servings each day.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. It is important to drink enough fluids when you are following a high fiber diet. Increasing your intake works with the fiber you eat to help prevent constipation. Try to get in 8-10 cups of fluids (water is best) each day.
  • Go slowly! Add high fiber foods gradually to your diet. Eating too much fiber too soon can cause uncomfortable gas and bloating. Food lists are included below to help you get started.

More Information