So you heard fiber is good for you but you are trying to control your carbs. Yes fiber is a carb and because of that it often gets grouped with carbs for a bad rap. Fiber has so many health benefits including glycemic control. Fiber helps to slow down the rise in glucose after eating. Fiber comes from plants so that means fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. And when you eat more plants you also get more phytonutrients which help to prevent disease. Here are some easy ways to eat sneak in more fiber.
- Get creative with beans- Try legumes and lentils in different ways. These are amazing high fiber plant foods that you can add to anything. Think about using these as a substitute in place of meat (think black bean burger and so much more), added to salads, soups, eggs, mashed in dips or as a spread.
- Trade in your white flour- Let’s face the facts that white four has almost no fiber. The good news is that there are some good substitutes. Check out oat flour, almond flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour, teff flour, buckwheat flour, and chickpea flour. These can’t be used as equal substitutes for white flour in any recipe, but look for recipes that include these flours to increase your fiber intake.
- Try some new starches- Some people with diabetes are already avoiding rice, pasta, breads, or cereals because of the carbs, but it’s important to include some starches that have fiber. Your body still needs healthy carbs. Think about oats, teff, bulgur, barley, quinoa, farro, wild rice, buckwheat, millet, and even popcorn.
- Snack on higher fiber foods- Too often for snacks, we think of the usual suspects-crackers, chips, or sweets that are packaged and marketed as snacks. Instead look for real foods-fruits, vegetables and dip, nuts, or seeds. Plan ahead and make these foods your snacks.
- Try some new forms of pasta- Spend some time in the pasta aisle reading labels and you will quickly learn that not all pastas are created equal. Check out some of the higher fiber pastas including those made from whole grain, black beans, lentils, brown rice, or chickpeas. Don’t forget that spiralized vegetables also make a great pasta substitute.
- Add nuts and seeds to almost anything- Most nuts and seeds are low in carbs and contain some fiber. Work on creative ways to add these to your daily diet including whole or chopped nuts and seeds to cereals, salads, soups, smoothies, yogurt, or dips. Nut and seed butters are a great choice for a healthy spread.
- AVOCADOS- Yes this technically a fruit but lower in carbs and a good source of fiber. Add sliced avocado to anything including eggs, salad, toast, sandwiches, smoothies, dips, and use in place of mayo or sour cream.
- Bump up the veggies- It’s ideal to say we eat vegetables with lunch and dinner. It’s more important to look at the amount. While not all vegetables are equal in fiber, increasing your variety and intake overall will help. The technical serving size of vegetable is ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw. A good starting goal is anything more than you are eating now but in the long run think about 5-8 servings of vegetables per day.
So now you have new ideas but you might be thinking increasing fiber intake means increasing your total carbs. Instead think about changing where your carbs are coming from. Swap out some lower fiber carb choices for some higher fiber ones. Don’t forget to stay hydrated as you increase your fiber intake. Water will help fiber do its job even better and get digestion moving. Focus on eating more plants and you will increase your fiber intake.
by Christine McKinney, RD LDN CDE