Guest Author - Alicia Bodine
Fiber is an important part of any healthy diet. Most of us know that fiber is the nutrient that helps to keep us regular. As a mom of a child with chronic constipation issues, I know first hand how essential fiber is to the diet.
Fiber isn't just good for your digestive system. It is also known to help prevent heart problems like strokes. The American Heart Association recommends that every person consume 25 grams of fiber each day. Sadly, most individuals don't consume anywhere near that figure.
So how do you start increasing your fiber intake? Some would say you should take a fiber supplement. I believe that should be done as a last resort. If you are eating the proper foods, there is no reason why you can't bring up your fiber intake naturally. Natural is always best in my opinion.
Start by switching your white bread to whole grain wheat bread. You won't be able to do this if you have a gluten allergy, but for most folks this is an option. Use the bread to make toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, or homemade garlic bread for dinner.
Stop eating white rice (which has little nutritional value anyway) and start eating brown rice. Rice was an easy addition for my household as my kids seem to love it. I can top the rice with chicken or beef cubes, and even stir in veggies to make the dish an entire meal. The good news is that fresh vegetables also contain fiber so you can count their fiber toward your total goal.
Don't just stop with the fresh vegetables. Fresh fruits are high in fiber as well. Start with bananas. You can use them in a homemade pancake recipe, to make banana bread, or to top a cup of yogurt. If you don't like bananas, use apples instead.
Another way to increase your fiber intake is to add beans to your dishes. You can make a healthy chili from scratch, toss the beans in a pasta salad, or simply cook them as a side dish for your main dinner meal.
Just by making a few small conscious changes each week, you can take the steps you need to consume an adequate amount of fiber. Don't overwhelm yourself and try to make all of the changes in one day. In my experience, that doesn't work. Small gradual changes have a better chance of becoming good habits.
The American Heart Association