Consuming high fiber foods aids in reducing calorie intake, helps maintain blood sugar levels, prevents over eating and assists in weight loss.
Diet after diet, struggle after struggle, and failure after failure… the roller coaster effect of dieting has hurt many people. The decision to lose weight is the first and hardest step towards a healthy optimal weight because it requires acknowledging that there is a problem. Selecting the wrong program can make the weight loss program difficult and even unbearable. Deciding how to achieve that goal can be a burden especially with the abundance of information on the market.
Losing weight is very trendy and so are fad diets. One good thing about fad diets is that they create awareness of daily food intake. However, many fad diets place restriction on the types and amounts of food allowed. They often require lowering caloric intake, counting calories, calculating carbohydrates and weighing food which can add emotional stress to the eating process. As well, the sudden change in food choices, eating styles and the feeling of hunger can also add physical stress to the body.
Unfortunately, stress, both emotional and physical, is one of the causes of weight gain and obesity.
It is no wonder that dieters have difficulty sticking to a fad diet. They end up “cheating” and breaking the diet when their body can no longer resist cravings. Very often, the dramatic reduction of calories forces the body into starvation mode. When this occurs, the body begins to store all the food consumed as fat, preparing itself for a famine. And so the roller coaster ride begins. A little weight loss is followed by an even larger weight gain. The goal to lose weight ends in frustration and loss of self-esteem. How often can this process be repeated before the feeling of failure sets in and all attempts to lose weight are abandoned?
A High Fiber Diet
When a diet consisting of natural high fiber foods is followed, obtaining an optimal maintainable weight is possible. Eating healthy balanced high fiber meals become second nature and do not require counting calories or weighing food. Eating healthy by consuming a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains is an important step. These foods groups are all high in fiber and are a critical part of healthy balanced meals. They also are full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that the body needs to survive and function properly.
Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products provide excellent sources of protein but they do not contain fiber. A diet consisting mainly of high protein foods may be lacking in nutrients. Having fiber in the diet makes it easier to digest protein.
Beginning a diet based on healthy balanced meals does not mean discarding everything from the pantry and the refrigerator and replacing them with unknown ingredients and substances. By slowly adjusting eating habits, it is possible to not only lose the weight but to obtain a healthy body and lifestyle. The roller coaster effect of dieting can be broken. Adding more fiber to a diet is easy and a perfect way to start reaching an optimal maintainable weight.
How Does Adding Fiber Work?
Eating high fiber food requires a lot of chewing compared to eating processed food. Consider the difference in the amount of time it takes to eat a small handful of soft candies and the amount of time it takes to eat an apple. The label on a candy package is often surprising. A serving size of 3 to 4 candies may be 40 calories. A small handful, for example 12 jelly beans, will contain around 100 to 110 calories while a medium sized apple will contain 80 to 90 calories.
The slow process of chewing and eating the high fiber apple gives the body time to feel satisfied and prevents over consumption. Eating the apple, or any other high fiber food, brings vitamins, minerals and nutrients with it. Everyone knows how easy it is to grab two, or three, or more handfuls of those sugary candies. At the same time, how many people do you see eating two, or three or more apples at one sitting. One benefit of eating high fiber foods is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to consume a large number of calories quickly.
High fiber foods also have the ability to help maintain constant blood sugar (glucose) levels because they take longer to digest. As a result, energy levels between meals do not drop drastically, the feeling of fatigue does not set in quickly, feeling satisfied lasts longer and eating healthy high fiber foods even makes it is easier to concentrate.
Problems with weight gain and obesity start when blood sugar levels get too low. This is the time when giving in to cravings occurs and when processed low sugar foods become tempting. It is so easy to eat handful after handful of a sweet snack food because the body does not have the time to realize it has received calories. Over consumption happens quickly but soon hunger returns because the low fiber food is also digested quickly and the excess calories is stored as fat.
Eating a healthy high fiber snack, for example – a dozen or so of raw almonds, between meals can stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent over eating. The soluble fiber from the natural healthy food choice combines with water in the body and leaves a feeling of satisfaction.
Adding High Fiber Foods to a Diet
Healthy eating by adding fiber to a diet can be done in two ways. First, high fiber foods can be added to daily meals. And second, high processed snack foods can be replaced by high fiber foods.
High fibre foods are easy to find if you know what they are. These are just a few examples.
- Fruits: Apples, oranges, avocados
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, lettuce, sweet potatoes
- Legumes: Dried beans, refried beans, chick peas, kidney beans
- Whole Grains: 100% whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
When unsure if the food is high fiber, ask a simple question… Does it look like it came from a tree or a plant in the ground? As Dr. Daemon Jones states,” Oreos do not grow on trees. Have you ever seen an oreo tree?” If not, it might not be good choice to make.
Adding healthy fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day and at meals is an excellent way to add more fiber. For example, eating an orange at breakfast instead of drinking a glass of orange juice will add fiber and reduce the number of calories being consumed. It takes more than one orange to make a glass of orange juice but eating one orange is satisfying.
Picking snack foods that are natural and healthy are most likely going to be foods with high fiber. Vending machines can be a nightmare when a high fiber food is the goal. Select peanuts, almonds or popcorn. The pre-packaged nuts come in smaller packages than the popcorn but they are usually intended to contain enough calories for a snack – somewhere around 100 calories. The package may look smaller but the food value is present. Another point to note is that the people filling the vending machines make a living from what you consume. If the almonds and popcorn are always empty, it may motivate them to add other nutritious snacks to the vending machines in your work place.
When protein makes up a large part of a diet, substituting dried beans is an easy way to start on a high fiber diet. Instead of eating an all meat burrito, try a bean burrito. Dried beans are good sources of fiber and can be used as a side dish with a meal or to replace meats as the main course.
Restaurants, including fast food providers, are offering a greater variety of options on their menus. Try replacing the white rice, french fries or onion rings with a fresh salad, bean salad or baked beans. If it is not on the menu, ask, most restaurant enjoy satisfying their customers.
Designing a high fiber diet that fits personal food preferences does not need to be complicated. Consider adding colour and variety to a meal. If the planned meal looks colourless, try adding a salad, slices of tomato, some carrots or broccoli. Fruit and fruit salads make great appetizers as well as great snacks or desserts.
A package of sunflower seeds can provide the burst of energy needed between meals. The trick is to start slowly. Evaluate the current food choices and pick a high fiber food to replace it. A cookie made with white flour and white sugar might be replaced with whole grain crackers. Foods labels will list the ingredients in the foods and help the decision making process. High sugar and white flour products are usually not high fiber foods.
By adding high fiber with natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains the total number of calories consumed can decrease, blood sugar levels tend to stay level and over eating is avoided. Slowly changing eating habits will allow natural weight loss. Eating healthy high fiber foods will create an optimal and maintainable healthy weight.