Do you need to increase your fiber intake? Most likely, yes. Experts recommend a total dietary fiber intake of 25 to 30 grams from food (not supplements), but unfortunately most American adults only consume about 15 grams of fiber a day on average (source). Most people know that fiber is important for the health of the digestive system, but did you know it can also reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and a variety of other dangerous conditions? Luckily, it isn’t difficult to find delicious foods that provide plenty of fiber. If you’re wondering how to get more fiber in your diet, review our tips and tricks below.
First, a warning: If you suddenly begin consuming a higher amount of fiber, you might experience some negative side effects like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. So instead, slowly add more high-fiber foods to your diet, increasing the amount week by week, to give your digestive system time to adjust.
In addition, be sure that you’re consuming enough fluids each day (about 16 ounces of water, four times a day). If you’re not drinking enough water, your body may struggle to pass all this fiber through your digestive system, which may give you stomachaches. Fiber and water go hand in hand.
How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
Include vegetables and fruit in every meal.
Aim to eat at least three servings of vegetables every day (one serving equals 1/2 cup raw vegetables or 1 cup leafy greens) and two servings of fruit every day (one serving equals a single piece of fruit or 1/2 cup raw fruit). Here are a few ideas for you:
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with cooked apples, yogurt with berries, high-fiber cereal with bananas, vegetable omelet
- Lunch: Kale and pear salad, stir-fried veggies, fish with a side of broccoli, fajitas
- Snack: Apple with cheese, carrots and hummus, banana with peanut butter
- Dinner: Chicken and roasted veggies, beef and broccoli over rice, vegetable soup
Consume pulses (beans, lentils, peas) a few times each week.
Not only are they packed with protein, but also pulses are excellent sources of fiber. Eat them at least three times a week to boost your fiber intake. Which dishes are good sources of pulses? You might enjoy a bowl of chili, a black-bean burger, lentil soup, or a burrito filled with veggies and black beans.
Snack on nuts and seeds.
We’ve already recommended fruits and veggies as snacks, but you should also try snacking on a small handful of nuts and seeds. Beware of eating too many – nuts are high in calories – but a small amount make an excellent snack full of fiber and protein.
Go for whole grains whenever possible.
Enjoy eating bread? What about pasta? Or crackers? Cereal? Rice? Whenever you’re purchasing a product like these, check to be sure it contains whole grains. If it doesn’t, seek out a whole-grain alternative. Additionally, beware of labels that say “100% wheat” or “multi-grain,” as these are typically not whole grain.
Check nutrition labels.
When you’re grocery shopping, don’t put an item in your cart until you’ve inspected the label. Look for products that contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Find delicious high-fiber foods.
If you’re wondering how to get more fiber in your diet, one of the most helpful things you can do is find foods you love that happen to be high in fiber. Don’t get into the habit of thinking, “I don’t like green vegetables, so I’m always going to struggle to get fiber in my diet.” Or, “I want to eat more fiber, but I can’t stand the texture of beans, so I guess I’m out of luck.” As you can see from the tips we’ve listed above, a wide variety of foods are high in fiber. Spend a little time compiling a long list of delicious high-fiber foods. The following are excellent options:
- Vegetables: Peas, broccoli, collard greens, brussels sprouts, potatoes, corn, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard, artichokes
- Fruits: Raspberries, pears, apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, mangos, guava
- Pulses: Lentils, white beans, garbanzo beans, pinto meals, black beans, baked beans, lima beans, kidney beans, soybeans
- Nuts & Seeds: Almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Grains: Whole-wheat pasta, barley, bran, quinoa, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, whole-wheat bread
A high-fiber diet can help lower your cholesterol, normalize your bowel movements, maintain your bowel health, control your blood sugar levels, and even help you live longer! So when you’re deciding what to eat each day, always consider fiber content.
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