Hi Brave Monkees.
Before we get into the nitty gritty today, I'd like to pause to acknowledge some strong, brave hearts out there. I have learned a lot in the past two days, probably much more than you've learned from me. Let me explain.
I am learning that there are two camps of Monkees here. Some of you are looking to improve your food choices, learn a little more about nutrition and try some healthy recipes. Great, we have that here. But there's another group of Monkees who are really hurting. Food and body image have played a painful part in their lives for years, decades... forever, maybe. These Monkees don't need information from me, they need a safe place to talk and learn that they are NOT ALONE. I can promise those Monkees...just based on what I've learned recently, you are NOT ALONE. There are a lot of you who are hurting. And I don't have answers for you. I've got more questions than answers, really. So I can't offer solutions. But I can offer you a safe place to share your heart and struggles. I will create that here for you. This place is going to be for you hurting Monkees, too. If you are hurting and you feel you need support and a safe sharing place more than, or in addition to, nutrition information, would you email me? I am considering starting a book club group with a book that helped Glennon and Sister begin to understand their food addictions. I'd love to learn alongside you, if you're interested in joining us.
OK, on to the business of the day.
Everyone, meet Fiber. Fiber is your new best friend.
Fiber, meet everyone. We are going to be eating a lot of you.
Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s talk about the tremendous health and weight-loss benefits that fiber provides. A high-fiber diet has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of many types of cancer. That bit of info, combined with the fact that fiber helps satisfy your hunger longer and helps stabilize your blood sugar, helping to slow carbohydrate absorption, should have you screaming PASS THE BEANS. Or vegetables. Or fruit. Or whole grains.
The RDA for fiber in this country is 25 grams per day, although most nutritionist recommend consuming 35 grams; however, the average American consumes just 17 grams of fiber each day. Interestingly enough, in countries where the cancer and heart disease rates are the lowest, fiber consumption exceeds 45 grams per day. That’s some serious fiber for thought.
As most of you probably know, good sources of fiber include, whole grains (bran has the highest fiber content), brown rice, legumes (such as dried peas, beans, lentils), fruits and vegetables. Here are some quick and easy tips for sneaking more fiber into your diet:
• Add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran or ground flaxseed to whole wheat pancake batter, oatmeal (whole oats are less processed and better for you than “quick” oats) or a fruit smoothie to jump start your day.
• Switch to whole grains. Look for breads that list 100% whole wheat or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label.
• Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, quinoa and bulgur.
• Add pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews.
• Eat more beans, peas and lentils. Add kidney beans to soup or chick peas to a green salad.
• Eat fruit with every meal and/or for snacks or desert. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears and berries are all good sources of fiber.
High-fiber foods are good for your health and waistline. But, before you scarf down a can of beans on your way to your next party remember this: adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping and make you very unpopular at the party. So, please, increase fiber consumption gradually over a few weeks and make sure to drink PLENTY of water to aid in digestion.
Check back on Monday as we start our “Super Foods” series, complete with super easy recipes for each super nutritious food we discuss. To start we are simply going to focus on including more healthy choices into our current diets. We aren't going to talk about eliminating anything at this point because it's too easy to go off the deep end and try to change everything all at once, which we know never works, only to wind up more frustrated than when we started. The goal is to STAY BALANCED on our quest for better health, right? So we must remind each other that it's about progress ... not perfection. If one of us, including me -- ok, especially me (my enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of me), stumbles and forgets this golden rule, we must remind her.
In an effort to keep it real (and humorous), Glennon will be attempting to make some of the suggested "super food" recipes and blogging about it on Momastery. Stay tuned, you won't want to miss that!
Finally, for those of you interested in some medical mumbo jumbo about how fiber can help promote good health, this is for you:
Fiber normalizes bowel movements
Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it, making it easier to pass. For some, fiber may provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome.
Fiber helps maintain bowel integrity and health
A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and small pouches in your colon known as diverticular disease.
Fiber lowers blood cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease
Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering "bad" cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that increased fiber in the diet can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, which is also protective to heart health.
Fiber helps control blood sugar levels
Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes insoluble fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Fiber may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
Eating fiber speeds up the passage of food through the body. Some experts believe this may prevent harmful substances found in some foods from affecting the colon and may protect against colon cancer.
Fiber aids in weight loss
High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you're no longer hungry, so you're less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. (i.e., more volume of food for less calories).