Is It Tough to Get Enough?
Most of us would like the benefits that come from getting more fiber in our diets but when it comes to doing it, we often fall short. While it may seem like an impossible feat, it can become a more manageable task if it’s broken down into several smaller ones. Once you start to adopt these small changes to your every day eating habits, increasing your fiber intake will happen without you even noticing.
What Can More Fiber Do for You?
Getting more fiber in your diet can bring a host of benefits for you including:
- Decreased risk for colon cancer
- Lower cholesterol
- Better weight management
Where Fiber is Found
Fiber is found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains like bread, cereal, rice, and oatmeal. Some foods contain more fiber than others and often contain both types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel in your digestive tract. You would find this type of fiber in foods like beans and oatmeal. This is the kind that helps lower your cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber cannot dissolve in water so it adds bulk to the food in your digestive tract. This helps the food to move more quickly through the body. This is the fiber that helps reduce the risk of colon cancer. It also helps with weight management because the bulk it provides helps you to feel full without having to eat a lot of calories.
How Much Do We Need?
According to the American Institute of Cancer Research’s Facts on Fiber, we need at least 30 grams of fiber per day.This goal can be reached by eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and at least three servings of whole grains per day.
It is important to note that different types of the same food contain more fiber than others. For example, one serving of Romaine lettuce contains more than double the fiber in one serving of iceberg lettuce. One cereal can contain more than ten times as much fiber per serving as another.
This is why it is wise to check food labels before you choose a product. In order to ensure you get enough fiber in your diet, choose foods that have at least three or four grams of fiber per serving. In addition to checking food labels, consider making several small changes to what you eat in order to make your fiber add up faster.
Read below for 25 ways you can get more fruits, vegetables, and grains in the foods you already eat so you can meet your daily fiber requirement.
Simple Ways to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
- Replace milk shakes with fruit smoothies.
- Buy whole wheat bread instead of white or wheat bread.
- Buy double fiber bagels and double fiber English muffins.
- Put frozen fruit in a plastic baggie with sugar sprinkled on top. Eat it at work after it thaws out.
- Eat whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta.
- Chop fresh veggies at night and pack for snacking at work the next day.
- Take fiber supplements you can chew or mix in a beverage.
- Add brown rice to your favorite soup or stew.
- Put fresh fruit in your morning hot or cold cereal.
- Eat two scoops of veggies at dinner time instead of one.
- Replace potato chips & dip with carrot or celery sticks and dip.
- Add mushrooms and brown rice to your stuffed peppers instead of only meat and cheese.
- Eat your tacos and fajitas with whole wheat tortillas.
- Leave the skin on your mashed potatoes.
- Leave the skin on your apples.
- Leave the crust on your sandwiches.
- Put fresh fruit in your yogurt or ice cream.
- Buy yogurt made with fiber in it.
- Choose one meal each day to substitute meat for an extra serving of whole wheat bread and or vegetables.
- Try an all vegetable lasagna.
- Buy whole wheat dinner rolls.
- Trade candy bars for granola and fiber bars.
- Eat fruits and vegetables at meals before you eat meats and other sides. Sometimes when you start with the other items, you get full before you finish the vegetables.
- Trade your sugary morning cereal for one with more fiber.
- Replace popsicles with frozen grapes.
Fiber and Water Go Hand in Hand
Don’t forget to drink more water and fluids when you increase the amount of fiber you eat. These strategies can help you avoid some of the uncomfortable side effects that go along with increasing the fiber in your diet:
- Keep a glass of water next to your bed at night and drink it when you get up to go to the bathroom.
- Have a glass of water in the morning before you get out of bed.
- Fill a bottle of water and keep it at your desk all day.
- Keep bottled water in the cupholder of your car during your daily commute.