Monday, March 4, 2013

How to integrate fiber into your diet

So we’ve seen in a previous post the importance of fibers in digestion, cholesterol management and heart disease. Now, the question is:

How do I make sure I’m getting enough fibers daily?

1.   Drop the white and stick to brown!

-          Instead of using the regular white bread for your sandwiches, you can opt for whole grain.
Whole grain= نخالة، قمحة كاملة، غني بالألياف
-          Brown pasta and rice can also be a good idea
-          Go for breakfast cereals that are labeled as: rich in fibers, whole grains.

2.   Go green!

Almost all vegetables are rich in fibers. The trick is to vary your vegetables in order to get both types of fibers and not to get bored!

-          Add a salad to your lunch and dinner.
-          Choose recipes that contain vegetables. For instance, you can add carrots, pepper or tomatoes to your chicken to make it healthier and more colorful!

3.   Legumes

When you were little, your mom didn’t force you to eat those beans for nothing! She had a point there. Besides their protein and iron content, beans and other legumes are very rich in dietary fibers.

Go for chickpeas, kidney beans, cooked lentils and other beans.
Our Mediterranean diet is very rich in recipes that contain those ingredients. So forget about burgers and pizzas for lunch at least 2 to 3 times per week and opt for peas and rice (بزلة ورز), beans and rice (فاصوليا ورز), lentil soup (عدس بحامض), Moujaddara (مجدرة), etc.

4.   Be exotic

Oh yes! Fruits are indispensable in a high fiber diet! Snack on fruits instead of high fat and high sugar foods.
-          Have at least 2 fruits a day.
-          Go for the real thing instead of the juice because the fibers are found in the pulp.
-          Don’t peal them because the fibers are in the skin.
-          You can also go for dried fruits. Add them to your fiber rich breakfast cereals and tadaaaa!
-          Use berries, figs, raisins and nuts to add more fiber to your yoghurt, oatmeal, cereals and salads

5.   Add flaxseed to your ingredient list

If you read my article in Fit’N’Style magazine, then this is old news for you. In fact, one of flaxseed’s main components is dietary fibers. Flaxseed can be sprinkled as such on salads or any other cooked meal.
The ground seeds are very useful. They can be integrated into all recipes: cookies, muffins, bread loafs, pizza doughs, etc. (pic)

6.   Quinoa

Remember our “Quinoa… My precious” post?
Well, this pseudo-grain is known for its fiber content and just like flaxseed, it can be sprinkled on salads or integrated into any recipe. Plus, you can eat it instead of nuts.

7.   Always check Nutrition Facts labels on the foods you buy and look for products that contain  2 grams or more fiber per serving.

How much fibers should I eat?

The Institute of Medicine recommends that children and adults consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories of food they eat each day.
Without too many complications, women should have around 25g of fibers and men around 35.

Sample menu
Fiber content (g)
1 large whole wheat pita bread (60g)
4 slices of white cheese (60g)
1 cucumber
1 tomato

1 orange
1 cup of salad
1 cup of peas
1 cup of rice

1 apple
1 cup of salad
120g chicken breast
1 baked potato without skin


Around 1500 calories


It is important to increase your fiber intake gradually in order to avoid any bloating, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Also, you should drink lots of water so you can facilitate the digestion.

A healthy diet can provide more fibers than needed with just a little effort! So if you can have at least 3 days that look like this sample menu, you can have it your way for the rest of the week!