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Getting More Fiber in Your Diet

    • Fiber helps our digestive systems stay regular and can aid in controlling our appetites, but how do we know if we’re eating enough of it? Medical experts say a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and whole grains is the key to getting enough fiber. Chances are if you’re eating mostly meat and processed carbohydrates, you need to add some roughage and variety to your plate.

      According to the National Cancer Institute and the American Heart Association, we should be consuming 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day — including about 6 to 10 grams of soluble fiber. It’s important to have a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibers in our diet to aid in digestion.

      Karen Handy, director for adult weight management programs at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says adding fiber to your diet is not a complicated task.

      “With a little thought and planning, there are some fairly simple ways to add additional fiber to your diet. It’s easier than you may think,” Handy says.

    • Tips for Eating More Fiber

      • Eat more fruits and vegetables, including peels and skins, where much of the fiber is found.
      • Add extra vegetables, beans and legumes to soups, sauces, salads and any meat dishes.
      • Plan to have a fruit and vegetable with every meal and snack.
      • Make sure cooked vegetables are crisp-tender, not mushy.
      • Eat whole fruit instead of drinking juice. You’ll get the fiber plus it will help you feel more full and satisfied.
      • Switch to whole grain baked goods as the fiber has been processed out of white flour.
      • If you bake, experiment with using half whole wheat flour and half white flour, or replace the white flour entirely, in your recipes.
      • When buying grain products, make sure that the first ingredient listed on the package is a whole grain, such as whole wheat flour. Look for at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
      • Use whole grain pastas and brown rice.
      • Try a high fiber cereal, dry or cooked, with some fruit for breakfast. Good choices are old fashioned or steel cut oatmeal, oat bran, bran cereals and shredded wheat. Look for 5 grams or more fiber per serving.
      • Add nuts and seeds to salads, yogurt, cereals and baked goods.

    • Fiber Serving Sizes

    • When adding more fiber to your diet, drink about 64 ounces of water each day to help you avoid constipation. Also add fiber a little bit at a time, over a few weeks, to avoid excess gas and bloating. Aim to eat these fiber sources daily:

      • Fruits should be incorporated as two to four servings per day. Examples of a serving size include a medium apple, a medium banana or a medium orange.
      • Vegetables should be incorporated as three to five servings per day. A serving size is a ½ cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw vegetables such as peas, potatoes, corn, green beans, broccoli or carrots.
      • Grains should be incorporated as six to 11 servings each day. A serving size is ½ cup cooked legumes, ½ cup cooked oatmeal, 1/3 cup cooked brown rice, 1 slice whole wheat bread or ½ cup cooked bran.

    • Sample Snacks

    • If you still struggle to eat enough fiber, here are some suggestions for healthy and quick snacks that will increase your fiber intake. Put these on your shopping list and keep them handy in your pantry or refrigerator.

      • 1 and 1/8 cups edamame in the pods has 9 grams of fiber.
      • One medium-sized pear, apple, orange or banana has 3 grams of fiber.
      • ½ cup of cooked black beans has 8 grams of fiber.
      • ¼ cup of hummus has 4 grams of fiber.
      • 1 cup bran flakes has 7 grams of fiber.
      • One slice of whole wheat bread has 2 grams of fiber.
      • One medium baked potato with skin has 4 grams of fiber.
      • ½ cup of oatmeal has 2 grams of fiber.
      • Six whole wheat crackers equals 3 grams of fiber.

    • Sample Meal Plan

    • Breakfast

      ½ cup Raisin Bran cereal (4 grams)
      4 ounces skim milk
      1 slice whole wheat bread (2 grams)
      1 tsp butter
      2 egg whites
      Total Fiber: 6 grams

      Lunch

      1 cup split pea soup (8 grams)
      1 slice rye bread (2 grams)
      2 ounces turkey
      2 slices tomatoes (1 gram)
      Light mayonnaise
      1 cup berries (6 grams)
      Total Fiber: 17 grams

      Dinner

      3 ounces grilled salmon
      2/3 cup brown rice (3 grams)
      1 cup steamed broccoli (4 grams)
      Mixed green salad (4 grams)
      1 tablespoon salad dressing
      1 medium pear (5 grams)
      Total Fiber: 15 grams

      Total Daily Fiber: 38 grams

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