When you're thinking about your kids' diet, fiber may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, fiber is an important part of your children's diet. It aids digestion, and that's a big deal when it comes to having happy, healthy kids. Wheat bran is one good source of fiber, and it can be found in several places.
What is Wheat Bran?
Wheat bran is the outer shell of the grain of the wheat plant. It doesn't have any calories and it adds necessary fiber to your child's diet. Other parts of the wheat plant are ground to make flour. Whole-wheat flour has the bran ground up with it; white flour is made from wheat that has had the bran removed before being ground.
What Fiber Does
Fiber, including fiber from wheat bran, is very filling. Fiber-rich foods help your child feel full longer than other things, so he's less likely to over-eat. Fiber helps foods move efficiently through your child's digestive system and is important to prevent constipation. Constipation is when your child has infrequent bowel movements or has hard stools that are difficult to pass. Constipation can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. When your child consumes enough fiber, along with plenty of liquids, his bowels will move more easily.
Dietary Fiber Needs
To determine how much fiber your child needs, add five to his age in years. If your child is 4 years old, he needs about 9 grams of fiber every day. Much of this can come from products containing wheat bran such as whole-grain breads, English muffins, waffles and cereals. One whole-wheat English muffin, for example, has about 4.5 grams of fiber. Check the nutrition labels of the products you buy to determine how much fiber each serving has.
The best way to make sure that your child gets enough fiber is to offer a balanced diet rich in whole-wheat products and other fiber-rich foods. Offer whole-grain cereals or whole-wheat toast for breakfast and fruit for snacks; pears and apples with the skin left on are good sources of fiber, as are raisins, oranges and bananas. For dinner, serve whole-wheat rolls alongside a baked potato with skin and a hearty salad made with fiber-rich ingredients like chickpeas and almonds and topped with a creamy dressing.