14. Every week, switch from a white food to a brown food. So instead of instant white rice, you switch to instant brown rice. Instead of regular pasta, you switch to whole wheat pasta. Similarly, whole wheat pitas instead of regular, whole wheat burritos instead of corn, whole wheat couscous instead of regular. Within two months, you should be eating only whole grains, and should have increased your daily fiber consumption by an easy 10 grams without radically changing your diet!
15. Spread your sandwich with 1/2 cup hummus. Bam! You just got 7.5 grams of fiber in a tasty package. Lay some spinach leaves and a tomato slice atop for another couple of grams.
16. Make beans a part of at least one meal a day. They’re packed with fiber (15 grams in just a cup of black beans) and, since they come canned, so easy to use. Just rinse before using to remove excess sodium. Here are some tips for getting your beans:
- Puree a can of cannelloni beans for a tasty dip. Add 2 cloves garlic and a tablespoon each of lemon juice and olive oil to the blender. Use as a dip for veggies and whole grain crackers.
- Spread nonfat refried beans on a whole wheat burrito and sprinkle with chopped chicken and shredded cheese.
- Use 1/2 cup black beans and salsa as a filling for your morning omelet.
- Make a bean salad with canned black beans, fresh or frozen corn kernels, chopped cilantro, chopped onion, and chopped tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Make your own special chili pizza. Top a prepared (whole wheat) pizza crust with some kidney beans, shredded cheese, and ground turkey cooked with chili flavorings.
- Start serving edamame (soybeans) as a side dish. You’ll get 4 grams of fiber in 2/3 cup of the sweet legumes, not to mention the cancer-fighting phytonutrients inherent in soy.
17. Add pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes. You won’t taste a difference, but you will get some extra fiber, say the nutrition twins, Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D., and Lyssie Lakatos, R. D. The two are the authors of Fire Up Your Metabolism: 9 Proven Principles for Burning Fat and Losing Weight Forever.
18. Have a beet salad for dinner. These bright red veggies have virtually no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, quite a bit of potassium, and 2 grams of fiber. Try roasting whole, peeled beets for 45 minutes, chilling, then dicing into a summer salad.
19. Make rice pudding for dessert tonight. Only instead of white rice, use brown to, as Emeril would say, “kick it up a notch.”
20. Snack on popcorn. The microwave variety works just fine, but we prefer air-popped popcorn without the oil. Each cup of popcorn delivers 1.2 grams of fiber.
21. Switch to whole wheat flour when baking. You can start by going half and half, eventually using only whole wheat flour for all your cooking needs.
22. Throw some flaxseeds, wheat germ, or other high-fiber add-ins into batter. They add crunch to your cookies, muffins, and breads — and loads of fiber.
23. Eat the skin of your baked and sweet potatoes. Eating baked potatoes with the skin instead of mashed ups the fiber at least 3 grams (depending on the size of the potato).
24. Start every dinner with a mixed green salad. Not only will it add fiber, but with a low-calorie vinaigrette dressing, it will partially fill you up with very few calories, and thus offers great benefits in weight loss/control.
25. Always add lettuce and tomato slices rather than cheese to sandwiches. Not only do they add fiber, but they also reduce calories.
26. Use beans or lentils as the main protein source for dinner once or twice a week. A classic dish such as pasta e fagioli works well.
27. Make your fiber sources suit the seasons. A cold lentil salad, or corn and black bean salad in summer, then vegetarian chili in winter.
28. Snack on dried fruit every day. Tasty, chewy, satisfying, easy to eat on the go — and loaded with fiber. Try dried apricots, dates, figs, peaches, pears, and bananas.
29. Drink your fiber. Make your own smoothies by blending whole fruits (cut out the big seeds). If everything in the fruit goes into your glass, you’ll get the fiber from the edible peel, often missing from fruit juice.
Don’t Forget To…
Drink plenty of water. You need water to help the fiber pass through your digestive system without getting, ahem, stuck. So as you’re increasing the fiber in your diet, also increase the amount of water or other unsweetened beverages you’re getting.
Also, don’t up your fiber load all at once. That’s just going to overwhelm your system, leading to gas, bloating, and constipation. Instead, start slowly. Try one tip a week for the first couple of weeks, then two, then three.
By week four or five, you should be up to the full 25-30 grams — or more.
Tip: Save money and calories with Mediterranean-inspired brown bag lunches. View a shopping list and recipes for 5 lunches.