The daily recommendation of fiber is 24 g for women and 38 g for men. The average American only consumes half of those values. As a nutrition major, I’ve had to do countless food logs and every time, I’ve never reached the recommended amount of fiber. That all changed this summer. I tracked everything I ate and logged my workouts. By the end of the summer, it was pretty easy. It also forced me to think about what I was eating and what benefits food has on my body. Since the semester started, I’ve been slacking. Even though I stopped tracking my food, I can feel myself not feeling as healthy as I did in the summer. I am definitely not getting enough fiber and I thought it would be great to start that up again.
When I told my friends of my summer accomplishment, I got a lot of confusion back. “Why would you do that to yourself?” (Hurts so good, by the way #tmi #truth #sorrynotsorry) “What does fiber even do?” “Did you just eat wheat?”
What Fiber Does: Fiber is interesting because your body doesn’t actually digest it. Instead, it passes through your body, acting as sort of a cleaning scrub to all that bad stuff in your body. There are two types: soluble and insoluble. It’s important to eat both, as they serve different roles in the body.
Here are a couple highlights on the benefits of fiber:
1. Helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose
2. Promotes digestion and increases stool bulk / normalizes bowel movement
3. Lowers risk of heart disease and diabetes
4. Fills you up during meals, causing you to eat less calories (weight maintenance)
5. Prevents cancer? Perhaps.
Where can you find fiber? SO MANY FOODS have fiber. There’s this huge stigma fiber is a food you have to hold your nose while eating (which doesn’t even work, tbh). While yes, foods like bran (oats, wheat, rice…) can be a bit bland by themselves. It’s the creativity with adding fruits and veggies that I love. Beans could be made into a delicious 3-bean chili or fiber-rich veggies could be made into a breakfast hash. The possibilities are endless, but Here’s a good link to look at. This past summer, I realized that it’s super easy to sneak more fiber into meals with simple substitutions and additions.
1. Flax seed. Super super super easy. Just add 2 Tbsps or so to your next smoothie or yogurt or oatmeal. It adds great texture and you can barely taste it. (+2g fiber)
2. Opt for almond butter next time you make toast or have a banana! (+2g for 2 Tbsps + 3g from the banana!)
3. Oat bran + raisins + walnuts + honey = amazing (idk…but a lot if you add all those add ins!)
4. Chia seed pudding, anyone? Bonus if you add fresh fruits like mango, peach, raspberries, strawberries, coconut, etc. (chia has 10g/oz + more if you add fruit!)
5. FiberOne is great for on-the-go. It’s got 33% of your daily fiber intake (so like, ~9g)
1. Try rye instead of white (+2g)
2. Pack some beans! Beans or lentils are super easy to put into anything – soups, salads, burritos, etc. (+6-10 g/c)
3. Instead of romaine, try kale salads! They’re super great with caesar dressing (2.6g/c)
4. Don’t drink juice! It’s got all the sugar without the fibrous pulp. Instead, opt for the real deal. Bite into an apple (With the peel) instead of sipping on that apple juice.
5. Trail mix is super easy to make, especially with Wegman’s trail mix bar, and has 2g more fiber than a granola bar (unless it’s FiberOne, I’m a huge fan of FiberOne).
1. Okay okay, I know. Whole wheat pasta is kind of gross and I can never tell when it’s done cooking. Try this trick: mix a 50:50 ratio of regular and whole wheat. You won’t be able to tell (or pick it out).
2. Veggies on veggies on veggies. My favorite is kale and sweet potato, but really any vegetable can’t hurt.
3. If you stick to MyPlate, you’ll realize that meat should actually be considered a side dish. Instead of taking up most of your plate, it should actually serve as a complement to your meal. What does this mean? It forces you to fill your plate with the other food groups….which could be grains and vegetables and fruit…which all have fiber!
4. Craving dessert? 1 c of raspberries is a whooping 8g. Serve plain or throw them on something chocolate!
5. Another dessert favorite: avocado chocolate pudding! (1 c = 10g)