Could Diet Be Constipating Your Kid?
Parents are pretty open when it comes to talking about poop. But what to do when your kid CAN'T poop?
Constipation is a real problem for some kids, and there's lots of things that can be the culprit:
- Certain medications cause constipation
- Inactivity or minimal movement
- "Holding it" - withholding stool during potty training
- A low fiber diet
When it comes to fiber and your kids, the best sources are real, wholesome foods. The best sources of fiber for kids to include and exclude are:
- Whole grains instead of refined, white bread - look for the word "whole" in the first ingredient and avoid "enriched" flour products which are just white breads with a little extra nutrition
- Dried or canned peas and beans and legumes - look for lower sodium canned options, or rinse under running water to reduce sodium in canned goods by about 30%
- Fresh fruits and vegetables - better to go fresh or frozen vs. canned and juice...kids actually don't NEED juice and fresh fruit has fiber whereas juice doesn't
How much fiber a day do kids need?
- Kids 1-3 need 19 grams per day
- Kids 4-8 need 25 grams per day
A good rule of thumb is to look for 3-5 grams of fiber per serving of most foods. That's generally considered to be a high fiber food.
Stay away from double-fiber breads or other packaged foods marketed as having "more" or "added" fiber. These are generally items of low nutritional value that have added functional (or fake) fibers. These fibers are used in weight loss products to help adults feel fuller for longer; they are not appropriate for children as the extra fiber takes too long to digest, makes them stay full for too long and then displaces intake of other healthy foods.
If you as an adult or parent are suffering from constipation, it could also be your diet. For more information on Why Your Diet is Causing Constipation - check out the blog post on the topic I wrote for the American Council on Exercise.