8 May 12 Eating Gluten-Free & Struggling to Get Enough Fiber?

Many folks in the U.S. rely on wheat for meeting their fiber need but that is not an option for folks who must avoid gluten. Wheat, rye, and barley all contain gluten. So how do you get enough fiber (25 grams for women, 38 grams for men) from gluten-free sources? There are many processed gluten-free foods available now but they are often low in fiber and very expensive. This post is just to get you started thinking about less expensive gluten-free fiber options. For a food to really work in your eating plan, it needs to provide an acceptable taste, texture, and cost.

Dried Beans & Peas

The easiest and least expensive way to get a lot of fiber without gluten is to eat dried beans and peas (legumes). Legumes are high in protein, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. One-half cup provides between 6-8 grams fiber – and much of that is soluble, the type that is so beneficial for heart health and Type 2 diabetes. Examples include chick peas (garbanzo beans), kidney, white, fava, pinto, black, and navy, lentils, and split peas.

If you hate beans because they give you gas, then try different types and limit portion size. Lentils seem to be less gassy than other legumes. Try 1/2 cup cooked lentils if you are just starting to eat legumes. They also cook very quickly. If you like Alton Brown's recipes, then try his delicious Lentil Soup (if you don't have grains of paradise, you can substitute it with black pepper, shansho, or cardamom).

FYI: Using packaged bean flour for baked goods is a much more expensive way to get your fiber from beans.

Ground Flax

Although not as inexpensive as beans and peas, ground flax is affordable if you simply stick with the standard portion size of 2 tablespoons (13 cents - 27 cents depending upon brand). Two tablespoons will give you 4 grams of fiber along with 6 grams of healthy fats, fiber, magnesium, and iron. It is also very low in digestible carbs – only 1 g per serving.

Brown Rice

For pennies a serving, 1 cup of cooked brown rice provides about 4 grams fiber and about 25% DV for magnesium. In my opinion, the best taste and texture comes from cooking long grain brown rice from scratch. If you plan to cook rice often, invest in a good rice cooker. Or, if you cook it on your stovetop, bring to a boil and then turn down to low/simmer for 50 minutes – 1 hour. Extra rice freezes just fine. If you live at altitude or in a dry climate, try adding more water than what the recipe calls for to avoid undercooking. Note that wild rice also provides fiber but it costs about four times as much as brown rice.

For those who suffer from constipation, do not be fooled by the relatively modest fiber content of brown rice. Try it – you'll be surprised at how effective brown rice is at moving your bowels.

Fruits & Veggies

All fruits and veggies contain fiber, but some are especially great sources: blackberries and raspberries (8g/cup), and acorn squash and green peas (9g/cup cooked). To keep cost in check, buy fresh berries only in season but consider frozen berries during other times of the year. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, then feast on those delicious blackberries that grow wild everywhere. Can't beat free!
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Meal Planning & Diets/Gluten Free & Celiac

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