Hi #happyslimhealthy readers out there! I have received a question from a reader about how to add more fiber into your everyday life, so today I am excited to talk about my favorite f-word J - FIBER!! I have blogged about fiber in the past, but in this post my goal is to have you understand what it is and what it does for our bodies, in addition to how to add it to our lives.
So to start what is fiber?
Dietary fiber is the indigestible component of plant foods. It is the parts of plant that does not break down in our stomachs, and instead passes through our system undigested.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not.
Ok so let’s break it down more –
Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel in your digestive tract. The fiber pulls water as it moves and slows down the digestion process. This in and of itself helps with satiety as it slowly moves through your system, making fiber a key component in weight management!
This slowing down of digestion delays the emptying of your stomach to keep you fuller for a longer period of time. Therefore, fiber is key to add to your meals.
You can find this fabulous fiber in oatmeal, oats, lentils, barley, beans, nuts and seeds, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, berries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots to name a few.
Now, insoluble fiber adds bulk and helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity. AKA it helps move things along easier and quicker.
Insoluble fiber can be found in whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, seeds, veggies and then skins of fruits.
In addition to weight management – fiber may aid in the prevention of heart disease by helping to lower your bad cholesterol levels, it can help control and regulate blood sugar levels for diabetics and of course can help keep a healthy digestive system.
So how much fiber is recommended daily?
As per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. After age 50, your daily fiber needs drops to 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.”
And to be honest with you, getting enough fiber is really a lot easier than you may think.
Easy ways to start boosting your fiber consumption:
- Focus on eating lots of plant based foods – veggies, grains and fruits! As listed above all contain fiber. Berries contain ~4g of fiber in a ½ cup so start adding them to smoothies, or oatmeal to start your morning fiber full.
- Make half your plate veggies at lunch and dinner as an easy way to visualize adding more fiber to your meals
- Use avocado instead of mayo on a sandwich and with the addition of a ¼ of an avocado you will add ~2.5g of fiber
- Overall aim for 2 cups of fruit and at least 2-3 cups of veggies daily
- When cooking or baking – use coconut, oat or whole-wheat flours instead of white flours.
- Switch sandwich breads and wraps to higher fiber, whole grain varieties.
- Use higher fiber cereals (bran flakes) instead of calorically dense granolas in your yogurt, or mix in a serving of high fiber cereal with half of a serving of your regular breakfast cereal in the morning.
- Look for cereal with at least 5g of fiber per serving, no matter what!
- Go meatless one day per week and have beans as your source of protein at your meal – adding lots of extra fiber too!
- Make a bean salad by mixing 2-3 different types of beans with chopped, raw veggies and top with oil and vinegar – that easy!
- Add a serving of veggies or an extra bean into your homemade hummus varieties.
- Try home-made edamame hummus – blend chick peas, edamame beans, lemon, garlic, tahini and olive oil for a delicious flavor and added fiber goodness
- Make artichoke hummus, pepper hummus, white bean hummus, hey even broccoli hummus? Why not!?
- Snacks – go for popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain that gives you fiber!
- Add 1-2 tbsp of flax or chia seeds to your smoothies, cereals, salads, oatmeal, popcorn, peanut butter, pasta – anything really, be creative!
- And for some more tips for adding flax and chia seeds into your diet please feel free to refer back to my previous fiber post - http://headtotoewellness.weebly.com/nutrition-blog/sneak-some-fiber-into-your-life for some awesome ideas!
- And finally…use your POWER GRAINS: Instead of white rice try grains such as – quinoa, wheat berries, faro, freekeh, buckwheat, amaranth, lentils etc.
If you are really not into the idea of using these grains think about this for a second – in 1 serving of white rice you will get roughly 1-2g of protein and 1-2g of fiber, in comparison in 1 serving of one of the power grains listed above you can get up to 7g of protein and 7g of fiber!! That’s a HUGE difference! Still not convinced or ready to give them a try? Go halfsies…use a half serving of a power grain and mix it in with a half serving of your white rice J better than nothing and still adding extra fiber to your day!
How to increase your fiber and whole grain consumption properly?
The key here is slowly! If you add too much fiber too quickly into your diet, you will get bloated. This is a common mistake many people make and it in part brings them to consume less fiber as a result of frustration! Don’t let this happen to you. As described above, fiber is an indigestible part of the grain, and if you eat too much too quickly it may have a bloating or gassy effect on you. So the key here is, to start slow to allow your body time to adjust. AND most important over all, always make sure you are increasing your daily water consumption with the addition of high fiber foods. Adding all this fiber with no water will create almost like a stopper in your body, the opposite of what the fiber is supposed to do! Fiber needs water to pass through, so please don’t forget this part!
Maybe you have heard in the past that including adequate fiber at meal times keeps you fuller longer, but now you know why. When you have fiber at your meals you are more satisfied and able to get from meal to meal without becoming too hungry. Avoiding the feeling of being “hangry” or too hungry is what keeps us from over-eating and thus helps us to reach our own, personal weight goals.
Fiber is oh so #happyslimhealthy – so show me how you add fiber into your meals by using the #happyslimhealthy hash-tag on Insta-Gram!
~Jenna A. Stock, RD