Why You Should Add More Fiber
We hear all the time that we need to eat more fiber. Why is it so important to add more fiber to our diet?
Fiber has a number of benefits (I won’t go into all of them here) but for people with gut issues such as IBS and irregular bowel habits, adding more fiber can help to:
- Regulate bowel movements (both the frequency and the consistency) and help you get the perfect poop (not too hard, not too loose) with the right frequency for you (this could be anywhere from 3 times a day to 3 times a week).
- Feed your gut bacteria (they are hungry!) and help you maintain good gut and overall health and prevent gut issues in the future.
The problem is – you might have tried to eat big salads, pile up the vegetables on your plate, eat types of bread full of whole grains and seeds…only to feel even more bloated!
So, you’ve given up the salads, gassy vegetables, beans, lentils, and peas because they “don’t agree with you”. You may be wary of all high-fiber foods and afraid or tentative about eating them. If that’s you, here are:
5 Tips to Add Fiber Without Getting Bloated or Gassy
Tip #1 – Start slow
The recommended target for fiber intake is at least 22-25 grams per day for a woman and 30-38 grams per day for a man. Most people in the US get about 15 grams per day.
If you are not getting the target fiber levels yet, going there too quickly might leave you bloated and a bit gassy. Think of this as a long run (not a sprint). There is no rush to get there!
Without having to count grams of fiber, just start adding one portion of fiber food per day. After a week, add another portion and continue until you reach your target.
For example, add 1 portion of fruit or a couple of tablespoons of nuts or seeds to your breakfast. One week later you can add a serving of vegetables to your lunch. And so on.
Tip #2 – Choose your fiber well
Start adding slowly-fermentable (low FODMAP) soluble fibers first. They are the best tolerated (least likely to cause bloating and gas). Some of my favorites are oats, chia seeds, oranges, avocados, eggplant, and canned chickpeas or lentils.
Tip #3 – Cook your vegetables
I know, salads have such a reputation for being a “healthy meal” but if you are having a big salad as your main meal, your sensitive gut might have trouble digesting it.
Start with increasing your cooked vegetable intake first. Salads can be still part of your eating pattern but make them small (appetizer, side dish) and choose tender lettuces such as mixed greens or arugula (instead of hardier types like kale or cabbage).
Tip #4 – Mind your fruit
What I mean by that is to be careful about how much fruit you eat in one sitting. Fruit is delicious and it is easy to eat a large amount, especially if you eat smoothies, drink fruit juice, or love fruit salads.
We all have a hard time digesting too much fructose or sorbitol (carbohydrates in fruit) at once, and this can lead to bloating and gas. Try to keep your fruit intake to about 3 ounces per sitting, up to 3 times a day.
Tip #5 – Don’t forget hydration
When you increase your fiber intake, you need to increase your fluid intake. Consider adding a glass or two of water per day as you increase your intake of fiber-rich foods.
Keep in mind that it’s not just water: tea, coffee (if tolerated), herbal teas, broths, and clear soups count too!
Are you still having trouble with gut symptoms? Let me help you!