12 November 2014 Stay Full Longer: Take the Fiber Challenge

Have you ever noticed how quickly you feel hungry after eating a piece of white bread for breakfast with jam? Does your afternoon snack seem too far away when you just eat a salad for lunch? For me, it does.

If I eat a piece of whole grain bread for breakfast with peanut butter on it or a bowl of high fiber cereal mixed with uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal, I can often make it to lunch without a morning snack. If I eat a salad for lunch and add some beans and 1/4 cup of nuts, I am able to make it through that afternoon meeting without feeling hungry.

What were the differences in the food choices that I made for my breakfast and lunch? Fiber. Fiber is a part of plant foods that we cannot absorb or digest. Some people call it roughage or bulk. Not only can fiber keep you feeling fuller longer to help you lose weight, it can also help decrease cholesterol, reduce risk of cancer, maintain blood sugars, and prevent type two diabetes.

What great reasons to take the Two Week Fiber Challenge!

Week 1: Baseline. Do not change your current eating habits.

1. Keep a food journal and write down everything you eat that contains fiber.
Follow these quick and simple guidelines for foods that contain fiber.
a. Fruits and Vegetables: About 3 grams of fiber per portion size (fruit the size of a tennis ball)
b. Legumes/beans: about 5-7 grams of fiber in a 1/2 cup of beans
c. Whole grain breads: Look at the nutrition label. If a bread contains more than 3 grams per serving, you are doing well. Unfortunately, about 70% of breads on the shelves contain less than 3 grams of fiber per serving. Read your label and focus on fiber (located under carbohydrates).
d. Breakfast cereals: Again, look at the label for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
For the exact fiber content of a specific food, click on the food search in MyNetDiary, and type in the name of the food.

2. Add up the total grams of fiber that you have eaten at the end of each day. How does it compare with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans of 25-38 grams of fiber per day? If you are like most Americans, it may be around 15 grams of fiber per day, which is about half of the recommended amount.

Week 2: Challenge. Increase fiber slowly. Do not go ballistic here.

ALERT: Remember to increase fiber slowly in your diet, about 3 to 5 grams per week; otherwise, you may feel uncomfortable and experience excess gas. Your body will adjust to an increased fiber diet, but increase fiber slowly so that your body has time to regulate.

IMPORTANT: As you increase fiber, remember to increase fluids by drinking more water and herbal teas. If you are constipated or have bowel movements that look like rabbit pellets, you know that you are not drinking enough water. Fiber needs water. Have you observed how the cereal, All Bran, absorbs milk like a sponge? Fiber does the same thing in your digestive tract. Thus, increase your water intake when you increase your fiber intake.

1. Ways to increase fiber each day by 3 grams.
a. Cut up fruit on your cereal for breakfast.
b. Choose a healthier breakfast cereal with more fiber. Try mixing your current cereal with a high fiber cereal. Your body can slowly adapt to more fiber, and you can finish your old breakfast cereals.
c. Pack a snack of hummus and carrots.
d. Enhance your salad at lunch with some garbanzo beans.
e. Pack a sandwich made with whole grain bread (3 grams of fiber per serving!).
f. Make a lentil soup for supper.

2. Add the total number of grams of fiber that you have eaten at the end of each day. Did you increase by 3 grams of fiber on most days? If so, you are doing great! Did you increase your water intake as well? If so, you get extra kudos. Keep up the good work!

In future weeks, continue to increase fiber by about 3 grams per week, until you reach the minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day.

Stay fuller longer by taking the two-week fiber challenge today and improve your food choices before the holiday season begins!

Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

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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.


Nutrients/"Carbs: Fiber, Starch, & Sugar"

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