By Joyce Hendley
Dietary guidelines recommend that most adult Americans get 25 to 38 grams of fiber a day, depending on their age and sex, which is more fiber than many people get. The good news? Getting more whole grains and fiber in your life is easier and tastier than you think. The key is to work more fiber-rich plant foods into your meals and snacks, and to get at least half of your grain-based foods each day from whole-grain sources. Here are some tried-and-true tips.
Upgrade your favorites
Seek out whole-grain versions of your favorite foods, such as whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread, brown rice and whole-grain crackers. If you don’t like one brand, experiment with another; there are so many choices nowadays, you’re sure to find one you love.
Phase in a whole grain by mixing it half-and-half with a refined one – for example, a blend of whole-wheat and regular pasta, or half brown and half white rice. The same goes for cold cereals: try mixing a low-sugar, high-fiber cereal into your (or your kids’) favorite cereal. Gradually increase the proportions until your palate – and digestive tract – have adjusted.
Cross a serving or two of whole grains off your list before sunup: Have a bowl of old-fashioned or quick (not instant) oatmeal, or whole-grain breakfast cereal. Look for cold cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and/or those that carry a seal identifying them as an “excellent” or “good” source of whole grains.
Think outside the (cereal) box
Expand your whole-grain pantry: how about bulgur (cracked, steamed and dried wheat kernels), whole-wheat couscous, quinoa or millet? Try taking a trip to a natural-foods store for some inspiration. Finding new recipes can also help expand your comfort zone.
Read, read, read
Become a label reader, zeroing in on the “dietary fiber” value. Compare brands and choose those that offer the highest numbers. As a benchmark, you can consider any food providing 5 or more grams of fiber per serving to be a “high fiber” food.
Eat your veggies
Try to make vegetables – preferably nonstarchy types like greens and broccoli – a part of every meal and snack. Top your egg sandwich with spinach and tomatoes, add a side salad or vegetable soup to your lunch, snack on carrots and hummus, and double your usual portion of veggies at dinner.
Choose whole foods
When fruits or vegetables are processed to make juice, most of the beneficial fiber is left behind. Instead, try blending fruits and vegetables into smoothies and snacking on fruits and vegetables. You’ll get more fiber and feel fuller.
Ditch the peeler
Don’t peel edible skins from fruits and vegetables if you can help it. To avoid pesticide residues, wash skins thoroughly before eating, and opt for organic varieties whenever possible.