So you want to increase your fibre?

In my previous fibre blog, I spoke about the importance of fibre to keep us healthy. So how can we increase fibre in our diets?

There are many reasons why people don’t consume enough fibre – preferences for processed grains (white flour), common availability of processed grains and some of the side effects of increased fibre… gas! See my previous fibre blog for more information about this.  However, the benefits of fibre mean that there are many reasons for consuming more.

There are many ways to increase fibre intake:

TIP: Eating the skin of fruits and veggies when possible will add extra fibre!

  • Switch from refined grain products to a whole grain products
    • whole wheat flour or multigrain flour instead of white flour
    • whole grain rice instead of white rice
    • whole wheat or whole grain breads instead of white bread
    • whole wheat or legume pasta instead of plain pasta
    • whole wheat or whole grain crackers instead of white crackers

TIP: Try replacing some of the white flour in a recipe with whole wheat. I try to do this with almost all of my recipes that call for white flour. I sometimes substitute a portion with multigrain flour for even more fibre and a nice crunch. Play with your flour blend depending on what you are making.  I typically find substituting about 1/3 or 1/2 of the white flour with whole wheat is a good place to start.

  • Use high fibre cereal as a complement to your existing breakfast
    • Add a handful of high fibre cereal (such as bran cereal) to your morning routine. Once you tolerate a handful, slowly add more until you can handle a whole bowl. If you prefer not to have a whole bowl of the high fibre cereal, just mix half and half; even half will add a decent amount of fibre.
  • Add bulking fibre to to almost anything:
    • A teaspoon of ground flax or chia seeds can be added to almost anything:
      • hot or cold cereal
      • yogurt (either on its own or as a yogurt parfait)
      • salad dressing
      • smoothie
    • Once you tolerate a teaspoon, you can slowly increase to the amount that works for you.  1-2 tbsp is probably the most you may want to go – more than that may lead to excess gas/discomfort.
  • Try other high fibre grains, such as quinoa, barley and oats
  • Try adding legumes or nuts/seeds to some of your meals such as:
    • adding chick peas or your favourite nut/seed to your salad
    • including lentils/beans to a soups/stews
    • having a handful of nuts/seeds as part of a snack or add to cereal

This list is long and still does not cover all of the different ways to increase fibre intake. But don’t stress too much. Start with something small that you know will be achievable for you. Be adventurous! Try new foods you may not have considered before. Try new recipes or experiment with your old recipes, making small changes to add a little more fibre at a time.

Increasing fibre

As mentioned in my previous fibre blog, gas production is a common side effect of fibre intake. This is especially the case when changing your diet from limited fibre to eating a lot very quickly. The key to managing gas is to increase fibre intake SLOWLY. Start with a small amount once or twice a day and then increase slowly as your body gets use to the added fibre. Also, try to space out your fibre intake rather than taking a large amount once a day.

When taking fibre, be sure to also increase fluid intake – fibre needs fluid to work properly in the body. Take enough fluids (water is best) otherwise you may cause even more discomfort.

Other fibre tips

  • The best way to get more fibre is to understand what you are eating – Read food labels – they can tell you lots about what you are taking in
    • Compare products and pick the one with the most fibre. Do not forget to make sure you are comparing the same serving sizes!
    • High-fibre foods should have 4 grams of fibre or more per serving.
    • Ingredients such as bran, whole grain whole wheat, oatmeal or rye flour provide more fibre

If you have difficulty finding what works for you, please seek help from your local Registered Dietitian. We are always here to help. Dietitians are still seeing clients despite COVID-19 restrictions, many are completing virtual consultations. Check out Dietitians of Canada’s “Find a Dietitian” section for someone in your area.

Do not forget to check out the recipes I mentioned above and keep an eye out for even more recipes coming in the future. I am always trying new recipes and will continue to post the ones that turn out well.  Check out the Recipe tab under the main menu for a list of all recipes as they are posted.

Stayed tuned for my next post all about protein!

Disclaimer:  The above information is intended for general public education and is not intended to be dietetic advice in any respect or to any person. Use of this information does not make any person a direct client of Tanya Brown,RD for any purpose and no such relationship will exist unless a formal client relationship has been entered into. Please consult your Doctor or a Registered Dietitian for individual recommendations prior to making any dietary or lifestyle changes.

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