Pediatric Advice: Eat your vegetables to get your Fiber – Dr. Plastic Picker

Pediatric Advice: Eat your vegetables to get your Fiber

| Posted in Pediatric Advice

November 19, 2019

by drplasticpicker

The most adventurous vegetable. Bitter Melon (bitter melon 1/2 cup, 1.3 g of fiber) from drplasticpicker’s mother’s garden. Organic. Photo credit drplasticpicker

One of my patients who is now about 10 years old always amazed me. He had a set of loving parents who both worked quite a bit, and was cared for from birth to about 4 by both sets of grandparents. His grandmothers fed this child the way their family has been eating for generations, and I watched them mold an amazing human-being and also an amazing vegetable-eating. I would argue that the two are correlated! This young boy ate bittermelon as a toddler, and still eats it to this day! It has taken me 40 years to be able to eat this very healthy, yet very bitter gourd vegetable (bitter melon 1/2 cup, 1.3 g of fiber).

drplasticpicker’s mother-in-law fall 2019 is planting a lot of these peppers (bell pepers 1/2 cup, 1 g of fiber). We are eating a lot of them and she is very proud of herself. She reuses the blue plastic bin we had for hay (Timothy hay is low protein and high fiber but humans can’t eat it) and litter for our 2 bunnies. We upgraded our bunnies to a bigger one, but drplasticpicker is happy that this blue plastic bin is being reused to prop up this pepper plant. When I somemtimes ruminate on why the beautiful zero-scape landscaping we paid thousands of dollars for when we built our house was slowly taken over, I remind myself that the disorganized garden actually provides tons of organic food and that my mother-in-law reuses alot of stuff for her garden, and her hobby like mine requires very little extra carbon. Photo credit by drplasticpicker. Plant credit by motherinlaw.

But otherwise, I don’t expect the majority of my patients to eat this vegetable. I encourage everyone to have your kids eat the standard vegetables first. For those parents who are struggling to incorporate more vegetables in your child’s diet, these are several methods I have used in my house. The standard advice is to give children 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and for most children the goal is 25 grams of fiber a day

Very important chart to memorize.

For vegetables a serving size defined by the USDA is 1/4 cup of cooked heated, drained vegetable. So below I list the fiber content of 1/2 cup of vegetables which is 2 servings, because when I cook I think of 1/2 cup sizes. If you have additional recipes or advice, please send them my way at or leave a comment! More people engaged in battling the Pediatric Fiber Deficit the better!

Eat your veggies and fruits! As I have discussed many times in clinic, veggies and fruits are very important for overall pediatric health. My overall impression is that my patients are better at eating fruit than vegetables Here are some fun and plastic-free ideas to incorporate veggies in your child’s diet. Obviously if you have a food allergy, avoid those foods. Vegetables are especially important for those children that tend to be constipated, and those that we are monitoring their weight. Make your daily cooking regimens easy, real, quick and healthy. As I tell parents in clinic, like organic chemistry everything can be learned. Drplasticpicker can whip up a decent meal now but it took me 35 years to learn to cook. If I can cook vegetables, than anyone can!

  1. Mashed Cauliflower: Cauliflower is all the rage now, and in moderation it is a great way to get toddlers especially to get some veggies in! Tastes like mashed potatoes. If you want to ease your child into mashed cauliflower, you can always start with half cauliflower and half potatoes. There are tons of fun recipes online. Try to just buy an actual head of cauliflower. All the taste of mashed potatoes comes from the butter and toppings anyway. So use those but in moderation. (Cauliflower by 1/2 cup serving, 2 grams of fiber, 2 servings of vegetables)
  2. Roasted Cruciferous Vegetables: Everything tastes better with a bit of olive oil, salt and butter. You can even go wild and sprinkle on bacon bits. This works with broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, zuchinni and throw in some real potatoes in also. They all taste great pan roasted. (Broccoli per 1/2 cup, 5.5 g of fiber, brussel sprouts per 1/2 cup servings 1.7g, cauliflower per 1/2 cup 2 g, zuchinni 1/2 cup 0.6 g of fiber)
  3. Veggie Fries (Eggplant/Zuchinni): Please consider getting an air fryer. Again, in moderation using an air fryer can be a great way to sneak those veggies and fruits in. Egglant and zuchinni and several squashes are great sliced the size of small fries. Dip them in an egg wash, then coat with panko/grated parmesean cheese and put in the air fryer. It makes a great side for a protein or a sandwhich. These can be made super quick in the air fryer, or the oven. (eggplant cooked per 1/2 cup 1.2 g of fiber, zuchinni 1/2 cup 0.6 g of fiber)
  4. Boiled Asparagus: Fresh asparagus can be very yummy. Don’t waste your money on the packaged and frozen kind. Sprouts and Costco have plenty. Just quickly boil, and afterwards serve with a pat of real butter, salt and pepper. Or use a seasoning shake of your choice. (asparagus per 1/2 cup 1.8 g of fiber)
  5. Roasted Ears of Corn: I think corn in moderation counts as a vegetable. Real corn. When it goes on sale at the grocery store, grab some and have the kids practice shucking them. You can easily just microwave them until done or boil or roast. Half a cob, goes well with soup or some breaded chicken/fish/nuggets. (1/2 ear of corn 1.4 g of fiber)

In summary, broccoli remains king with 5.5 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup and roasted corn is not bad at 1/2 ear with 1.4 grams of fiber! Otherwise try cauliflower, asparagus, brussel sprouts, zuchinni, egglant. Your goal for most kids is 25 grams of fiber a day. Whatever you can’t get in with vegetables, an apple, pear, persimmon with peel can back in another 5-7grams of fiber per medium fruit eaten raw or pureed and put into a Squeasy Gear, read more on fruit and fiber at!

Remember the goal is pleasant and nice soft bowel movements most days. A high fiber and plant based diet will ensure your children and my patients have healthy adult lives, avoiding adult hemmorhoid surgeries, decreased risk of diverticulitis, better heart health and I think will be happier and more mindful adults. The less drplasticpicker refers you to the Pediatric Gastroenterologist the better, read here about what a senior GI attending once said to me when I was a Chief Resident in Boston

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