“Eat more fiber.”
This advice, so often repeated in doctor’s offices, diet clinics and the trendiest health spas, can make us wince. “What – eat more leaves, twigs and stones? No, thanks!” we whine in response.
What a shame, because adding fiber to our diets can be quite painless and hugely beneficial. And we can do it without resorting to tasteless processed cereal bars or endless heaps of salad. The trick is to stick to simple, unprocessed foods that are easy to incorporate into a tasty daily menu.
A fiber-rich diet can improve:
- Chronic constipation
- Metabolic syndrome
- Elevated cholesterol
- Irregular bowel habits
Working in extra fiber at breakfast and lunch can be tricky because it’s just easier to grab a donut at the office or a muffin sandwich at the drive-thru ... but if you can manage to boost your fiber consumption by even a little, you’ll be doing yourself a great favor. Studies show those who eat more fiber in the early part of the day are less likely to pack on excess weight.
Substitute a whole-wheat tortilla for an English muffin in your morning egg sandwich. Eat a piece of fruit during your morning commute. Too rushed to sit down to breakfast? On Sunday night, mix multi-grain cereal, dried fruit and almonds in single-serving baggies to grab on the way out the door in the morning.
Going out to eat? Choose high-fiber options like beans instead of meat in your Mexican lunch, or a veggie sub sandwich. Choose minestrone instead of cream-based soups. At a convenience store, grab a hard-boiled egg, whole-wheat bagel, fruit and coffee. Brown-bagging it? Pack leftovers like brown rice and lean chicken, or whole-wheat pasta in tomato sauce.
Some additional tips:
- Substitute high-fiber foods for low-fiber foods. Choose fruit over juice for breakfast, or sprinkle a few nuts instead of croutons over a salad.
- Add both soluble and insoluble fiber from a variety of sources. Soluble fiber includes vegetables, fruit, oatmeal and psyllium. Insoluble fiber includes wheat and bran cereal and whole grains.
- Keep your daily fiber intake stable. Consider a fiber supplement if you travel, eat away from home often, or find it difficult to get enough fiber through food choices alone.
- Increase fiber levels in your diet gradually, and be sure to increase your fluid intake whenever you increase fiber in your diet.
What are your favorite ways to incorporate fiber into your daily diet?