In my previous article, Are You Eating Fiber Rich Foods, I explained the importance of getting ample amounts of dietary fiber. I hope to convince you that dietary fiber should be an integral part of what you eat each and every day. If you currently aren’t getting adequate amounts of fiber it will take a little effort initially, but the benefits and rewards of proper working plumbing can’t be overemphasized.
Fact: The typical American diet provides roughly 15 grams of fiber per day, only about one half of the recommended dietary fiber intake, which is approximately 30 grams a day. And some health professionals say a bit more is better. One suggestion would be to strive for 10 to 13 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories. A good rule for children, ages 2 to 18, is their Age + 5, so for a five year old that would be at least 10 grams of dietary fiber per day.
To learn which foods are the fiber rich foods refer to the chart: Sources of Dietary Fiber, for a list of high fiber foods.
12 Sure Ways to Include Foods High in Fiber every day!
As you become familiar with the foods that give you more bulk per serving, you should select these foods with fiber to help boost your dietary fiber intake. Here are my top suggestions to insure you will get enough fiber each day to improve your overall health and wellness.
1. Start your day with high fiber foods.
Breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day. Beginning your day with a healthy, hearty breakfast goes a long way to keeping you fueled and running properly. I know many people who skip breakfast – their reason – they just don’t have time to fix it in the morning.
The problem with this is most of them will stop and grab something to eat on the way and usually it is a doughnut or some other sugar-filled choice. Then by mid-morning they have no energy. The other extreme is to fill up on a high fat breakfast of eggs, fried potatoes, and bacon, sausage, or ham. This loads you up with too many grams of fat.
But when you start your day with fresh fruit and whole-grain breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, French toast, or cereals you will feel satisfied longer, thereby eating less calories and not suffering from blood sugar spikes and dips. Ignoring this fact alone is the primary reason most overeat and find themselves overweight.
Wheat-bran cereal is high insoluble fiber. Oat bran has a 50-50 balance of soluble and insoluble fiber and approximately three times as much dietary fiber by weight as rolled oats.
You can bulk up your cereal with a mixture of grains such as rolled oats, wheat germ, or bulgur. Then top it off with fresh and/or dried fruit, for a double dose of fiber. With a just little creativity, even toast can take on a healthy new dimension.
2. Mix and match your food fibers.
As stated above for breakfast, you can combine grains, nuts, and seeds by adding a variety of these to your bowl of cereal to make it exciting. You can also do this for most dishes or recipes. Add some oat bran into whole-grain pancake or waffle batter to provide additional soluble fiber. My husband varies our pancake recipe by combining two or three different grains, mainly these: hard white wheat, hard red wheat, spelt, kamut, and he usually adds buckwheat too. We add ground up flax seed to many dishes. When I do eat cold cereal I always sprinkle on sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, and ground flax seeds. Dried and fresh fruits and all-fruit preserves provide soluble fiber too.
3. Eat your fruits raw.
In order to benefit the most from the fiber and other essential phytonutrients from fruits eat the apple versus applesauce, the whole orange versus orange juice, and fresh blueberries versus blueberry pie. The highest fiber-ranking fruits are: dried figs, pears, blackberries, and dates.
4. Eat the skins too!
Leave the skins on when eating high fiber fruits and vegetables to benefit from the additional fiber, such as potatoes when making potato salad, apples when baking, and kiwi when slicing to eat.
5. Select your salad ingredients wisely.
Instead of iceberg lettuce, choose darker green organic lettuces and greens, like romaine and baby spinach, and add as many raw vegetables as you can. We regularly add carrots, broccoli, cucumber, yellow squash or zucchini, celery, red/orange/yellow peppers, and tomatoes. By adding a half-cup of chickpeas you’ll get an additional 6.5 grams of dietary fiber.
6. Don’t forget the beans (legumes).
Some of our family’s favorite legumes are lentils, black beans, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and great northern beans. Dried beans are excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber and come in so many varieties your family shouldn’t tire of them. When adding just 1/4 cup of lima beans to your soup or casserole, you’ll increase the total fiber by 6.5 grams. Beans can replace meats in soups, casseroles, and other main dishes. We make tortillas now with black beans and brown rice for a fiber-rich meal.
7. Ban the white flour forever!
Vow to never buy and cook with white flour again! Only use whole wheat when baking from scratch and a much better alternative is to buy the whole grain and grind it into flour yourself. There is no comparison to the taste of foods baked with freshly ground flours.
8. Desserts can be healthy too!
9. Snack smartly.
10. Top it off with foods with fiber.
Add toppings of granola, sliced or chopped nuts (almonds), whole or ground seeds (flax, sunflower, or sesame), chopped apples or dates, or any dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, or cherries) to your smoothies, yogurt, or cereals.
11. Drink an energy boosting smoothie.
For breakfast, mid-day, or dessert make a smoothie combining fruits, nuts, seeds, and other fiber-rich food sources such as psyllium husk. My son and I have a smoothie most days. Choosing high fiber foods for kids to eat is essential in keeping them healthy too!
12. Drink plenty of liquids, especially water.
It requires adequate amounts of fluid everyday for the dietary fiber you consume to do its job. So be sure to drink plenty of water, herbal teas, and keep in mind the liquids found naturally in high fiber fruits and vegetables adds up too.
If you currently are not getting anywhere near the recommended amount of dietary fiber per day (25 – 35 grams per day) you will need to gradually increase the amount. Your goal may be to double your dietary fiber intake, but don’t try and do it all at once or you will increase the likelihood of suffering from an upset stomach, bloating, gas, and/or diarrhea for several days. Again, you should gradually increase your dietary fiber to give your digestive system time to adjust.
How Long Will It Take for You to Become Regular?
Depending on your current circumstances and eating habits you should figure it will take between three to nine months of gradually increasing your dietary fiber intake in order to reach a good goal. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the time needed is much longer, maybe several years. If you have any known intestinal health issues you should also consult with your health professional and keep them informed of changes and your progress.
Both my husband and son suffered for years with constipation. Once we adopted healthier eating and drinking habits their situations were totally reversed. My son’s problems began when he was around two and we found ourselves having to give him a stool softener to make it possible for him to have bowel movements, which before he fought because of the discomfort and pain. This was before we learned the importance of eating mostly whole foods, which naturally are loaded with fiber.
How about you? Do you see and feel the benefit of eating high fiber foods? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
To your good health,