Be Fiberlicious

by Rachel on July 6, 2009

Happy Monday! I know coming back to work after a long weekend is never fun, so I hope you’re managing OK.

So…let’s talk a bit about fiber this morning!! It’s a word that’s tossed around a lot but can actually be a bit confusing.

First, some definitions. From the Harvard Nutrition Source:

“The term fiber refers to carbohydrates that cannot be digested. Fiber is present in all plants that are eaten for food, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. However, not all fiber is the same, and there are a number of ways to categorize it. One is by its source or origin. For example, fiber from grains is referred to as cereal fiber. Another way of categorizing fiber is by how easily it dissolves in water. Soluble fiber partially dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. These differences are important when it comes to fiber’s effect on your risk of developing certain diseases.”

If you’re trying to lose weight, there’s even more to fiber than disease prevention. Fiber will seriously help you feel full by slowing down the rate at which your food leaves your stomach, as well as how fast sugar is absorbed in your bloodstream. A high-fiber meal or snack will keep you feeling fuller much longer than one without fiber (especially if you include protein and fat in the mix). When you’re cutting calories, not feeling full enough is the thing that can turn you into one cranky, crabby individual. Fiber is like the soothing grandma that runs its fingers through your hair and says, “Shh…it’s gonna be all right.”

It is recommended that adults get 25 grams of fiber, but most Americans get way below this amount. So why not make it a point to get your fiber in this week? Experts do not recommend getting fiber from supplements; getting fiber from “enriched” foods like FiberOne bars and yogurt is also a poor life decision. (Seriously…have you ever looked at the nutrition labels on those things?)

The best way to get more fiber is to eat more fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, and whole grain carbs. (Refined carbs, like white bread and white rice, often lose their fiber when they are processed.) If you can add a veggie (or beans) to a meal, always do it! More veggies in your omelet or in your salad is only going to help in the long run. Having a big salad with a variety of vegetables and beans will also give you a mid-day kick. And don’t cut carbs completely–when we go on low-carb diets, we lose essential sources of fiber. Choosing 100 percent whole wheat breads over white breads is ideal. You don’t have to completely make over your diet–simple upgrades and swaps are key!

Here are some other ways to get your daily fix.

  • Have PB & J on a whole-wheat English muffin instead of regular
  • Scramble eggs with black beans and green peppers, and stuff into a whole wheat pita with salsa
  • Have a half-cup of your normal cereal and mix in a half-cup of Kellogg’s All Bran cereal
  • Have a whole orange instead of orange juice
  • Have an apple and a half ounce of almonds for a morning snack
  • Add a half-cup of beans or barley to your salad at lunch
  • Have a cup of bean soup or vegetarian chili with your sandwich instead of minestrone or chicken noodle
  • Choose whole grain crackers over potato chips or pretzels
  • Swap hummus for mayo
  • Add ground flax seeds and fruit to Greek yogurt for an afternoon snack
  • Steam a cup of broccoli and a cup of asparagus spears with dinner
  • Have a 100 percent whole wheat roll or slice of bread with lunch and dinner

When you start eating more fiber, it’s important to add it slowly, so you don’t get an upset stomach. It’s also important to chug extra water, because fiber absorbs H2O.

Eating a high-fiber diet actually leads to a flatter belly and healthier tummy, so this week, make it a goal to add fruits, vegetables, and beans when possible and check nutrition labels for grams of fiber per serving so you can increase your daily intake!

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