Aside from helping out your digestion and keeping you regular, eating more fiber could also reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Women need at least 20 grams of fiber per day, while men need a minimum of 30 grams. One of the best ways to get more fiber in your diet is to add more vegetables to your daily menu.
Your breakfast may already contain some fiber if you eat whole-grain cereal or whole-grain toast, but there’s no harm in adding a little more. While you may not fancy steamed or boiled veggies first thing in the morning, making a vegetable omelet is a great high-fiber way to start your day. Add corn, peppers, mushrooms or onion to eggs and serve with a whole-grain wrap or muffin. Alternatively, drink a high-fiber smoothie, made with spinach, kale, carrot or broccoli. Provided you add plenty of fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries or pineapple, you won’t taste the veggies.
Like breakfast, if you eat bread at lunch, you’re getting some fiber already, but bump this up with a high-fiber vegetable sandwich. Base your sandwich filling around a lean protein such as ham, tuna or low-fat cheese, then add as much salad as you can fit between your bread. Another good option is soup. Rather than buying ready-made soup off the shelves, make your own; this way you control exactly what goes into it. Leek and potato, tomato and bean, mixed vegetable and carrot or butternut squash all make tasty high-fiber soups.
The easiest way to get more vegetables in at dinner is to simply base your meals around vegetables and substitute refined grains such as white rice and pasta for cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, eggplant or any other vegetables you fancy. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends adding a green side salad to every evening meal, using pureed vegetables in stews and gravies and shredding zucchini or carrots into sauces.
Eating on the go doesn’t mean skimping on fiber. Chop up carrots, celery and bell peppers and have these with a healthy dip such as fat-free sour cream, salsa or homemade guacamole. You could also make a bean or legume-based dip, such as hummus. While these aren’t technically vegetables, they are high in fiber and complement your veggie sticks well. Keep smaller portions of your leftover soup from lunch in plastic containers and have a spoon on standby for a quick fiber snack mid-morning or afternoon.
References and ResourcesMayoClinic.com: Chart of High-Fiber Foods
Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber
United States Department of Agriculture: Tips to Help You Eat More Vegetables