We know that fiber is really important. More than 80% of consumers said so in a survey. But guess what? We’re not eating nearly enough! I’ve got you covered. Here are 10 easy ways to get fiber!
Thanks to Bay State Milling, the makers of HealthSenseTM High Fiber Wheat Flour for sponsoring this post. As always my words, advice and opinions are entirely my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
Why you should get more fiber?
- You’re probably not getting enough. Even if you’re pretty sure that you are, you’re probably not. Almost no one gets enough. The fiber gap is HUGE! The Adequate Intake for adults ranges from 21 to 38 grams, depending on age and gender. But a whopping 95% of Americans fail to get enough fiber.
- It’s super healthful: think heart disease, gut health, laxation, cancer prevention, blood sugar management, body weight and more. In fact, people who eat the most fiber are nearly 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intakes of fiber.
- There are so many different kinds of fibers and they do different – and wonderful – things. For example, resistant starch – like the fiber in HealthSenseTM High Fiber Wheat Flour – resists digestion in the small intestine, may help with blood sugar control and satiety and even feed your hungry, healthy gut microbes. I’ve got lots more on resistant starch. Check out The Fiber You Need to Know, so you can be in the know.
- You’ll eat a more healthful, delicious and satisfying diet. When you reach for a variety of high-fiber foods, lots more nutrients and phytonutrients also jump onto your plate. Fruits; vegetables; high-fiber breads, tortillas and cereals; lentils; beans; nuts; and whole grains like quinoa and barley! Plus, these health-boosting foods have got staying power to keep you satisfied.
Now pick a couple tips from the list below, so you can start to get more fiber right away.
10 ways to get fiber
It’s not hard, but it takes effort. In fact, I’m challenging you. Regularly add a few grams of fiber to your day. Then in a week or two, add a few more grams. Keep that up until you hit the Adequate Intake for your age and gender. Better yet, try to exceed it for what looks to be even greater health benefits.
- Read food labels. It’s probably not so surprising, but there’s a huge difference in fiber and nutrient content between brands. Granola bars, bread, cereal, and more. Take a peek at the serving size and the fiber content before making a choice. There’s nothing really special about my rule of thumb, but it works well for many of my clients and for me. When reading food labels for crackers, cereals and the like, I want to see at least 1 gram of fiber for every 50 calories.
- Pick high-fiber products. Anything labeled high fiber must provide at least 20% of the Daily Value for fiber in each serving. It should pack at least 5 grams of fiber. If a label says the product is a good source of fiber, it has to offer at least 10% of the Daily Value.
- Here’s why you want your supermarket to carry your favorite grain products made with HealthSenseTM High Fiber Wheat Flour. The wheat that this flour is made from has much more naturally occurring resistant starch than regular flour, and that means that less starch is digested (and less glucose becomes blood sugar), giving us more fiber in a slice of bread, a bowl of pasta or a handful of crackers.
- In fact, by replacing just 1/2 of the flour consumed in the US with HealthSenseTM High Fiber Wheat Flour, there would be no fiber gap at all!
For a chart of foods with their fiber counts and some simple swaps, take a look at What You Need to Know about High Fiber Foods.
Make high fiber a habit
- Eat fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and snack. Tons of nutrition – including fiber – in these foods! Whenever possible, eat the skins too.
- Replace animal proteins with plant proteins. At least a few times each week, sit down to a meal of lentils or beans. Just a 1/2-cup serving of lentils has almost 8 grams of fiber. Give my Lentil sloppy Joes at try. Double up by serving it on a high-fiber wheat bun. And a 1/2-cup serving of kidney beans has a generous 5 grams of fiber.
- Make a go-to list. Once you have some favorite high-fiber foods picked out, keep them on your grocery list and buy them regularly. A couple favorites in my house to help my family get fiber are popcorn and edamame beans.
- Fruit-focus your desserts. Yup, you can get more fiber – and more nutrition too – with raspberries over ice cream, poached pears, grilled peaches and strawberries dipped in chocolate.
Get creative with high fiber foods
- Mix high-fiber foods with lower-fiber foods. If you’re not ready to swap corn flakes for bran flakes, mix them together. Add popcorn to a lower-fiber snack mix. And mix 1/4 cup of cooked lentils, wild rice or barley to a cup of white rice until you and your family enjoy at least a 50:50 mix.
- Sprinkle a little here and there. Add a spoonful of chickpeas or black beans to your green salad. Sprinkle some seeds, bran, or wheat germ over yogurt or cottage cheese or into your smoothie.
- Experiment with a new recipe. At least a couple times each month, try out a new-to-you recipe that includes a food or two with a boost of fiber. You might like barley salad or lentil chili or a grain bowl with quinoa, kale and some other favorites.
- Sneak it in. Add bran or oats to batter when baking. Swirl smashed white beans into soups and stews. I promise that no one will know they’re there. Mix wheat germ into meatballs or meatloaf. Even pureed butternut squash hides nicely in macaroni and cheese.
If you’re not used to eating much fiber, take it slowly. Drink lots of fluids to minimize gas, bloating and discomfort.
So are you up to my challenge?
By the way, a few people have been asking me about where to find foods made with HealthSenseTM High Fiber Wheat Flour. I hope to see it in a few of my favorite products soon. You too? You can ask manufacturers to start using it in a few of your faves by going to the Contact Us section of their websites.