Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You've Got a Friend in Fiber

The post-requests are rolling in! Today's question:

An experienced journalist (columnist?) would probably set up an interview with Ms. Intrigued to hear more about what exactly intrigued her, but we'll just let her post her comments if I miss the mark.

Last month, I attended a training in Annapolis on weight management. The most provocative lecture was basically a myth-busters episode, challenging everything I hold true about what's helpful for weight-loss. The reason I bring this up is that the speaker, Richard D. Mattes of Purdue University, left me feeling as though high-fiber diets were not helpful in weight loss. Reviewing my notes, the only evidence he had for this viewpoint was that over the past 30 years, while we expected that fiber intake would go down, it's actually gone up slightly, but obesity is at an all-time high. Hopefully he had more evidence, but I don't see it in my slides nor do I remember anything more.

He tried to convince us of the same thing for fruit and vegetable intake. So basically for fiber, fruit and vegetable intake, he showed that people who eat more of both don't weigh less or lose weight more quickly than those who eat less. My explanation of this is that calories still matter! If a person eats more fiber, fruits and vegetables but still eats to many calories, they won't lose weight regardless.

Although the professional me tends to specialize in weight loss, I am most passionate about health and well-being, and for that: FIBER, FRUITS & VEGETABLES are where it's at! Why? Here are some reasons:
  1. Lowers cholesterol, promoting heart health
  2. Promotes healthy digestion (the right types of fiber can help with both constipation and diarrhea)
  3. Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  4. People who follow vegetarian diets tend to live longer (because of the fiber? who knows!)
  5. Fiber tends to help you feel fuller longer, in theory helping you to control calories and therefore weight (of course we already discussed one opposing viewpoint, above)
  6. Processed foods are very low in fiber and we're all in agreement that processed foods are generally not beneficial, right?
So it's not the what or the why that's most interesting, but the how. Here are some ideas on how to boost your fiber:
  • If you're a cereal person, choose one that has at least 5 grams per serving and add fruit (this one is good)
  • Try whole grains like bulgar, wheat berries, brown or wild rice, Barilla Plus pasta (better than whole wheat pasta in my opinion), and quinoa, spelt, 100% whole wheat bread and corn tortillas
  • Experiment with whole wheat pastry flour when baking. Try using a 1/3 whole wheat flour and 2/3 white flour to help your taste buds adjust. I just learned this trick: Add an extra teaspoon of baking powder for every 3 cups of whole wheat flour and use extra yeast and/or let yeast breads rise longer than with regular flour.
  • Make Ariyl's amazing cookies (with extra fiber from almond meal and oats) instead of classic chocolate chip cookies
  • Enjoy fiber-filled snacks: popcorn, fruits (fresh or dried), nuts, veggies with hummus 
  • Eat your beans! Red or black beans and rice is a staple on our weekly menus. Love it with cilantro, lime and sour cream or plain yogurt and it's great without the sausage, too. Beans are a great addition to soups, salads and salsas.
  • Sign up for a CSA share so you are forced to include lots of produce in your meals
What did I miss, Ms. Intrigued? I'm happy to answer more questions you might have!


  1. Hi Alicia,

    Don't know if you've had a chance to watch that video I posted in the comments of your last post, but that speaker was very pro-fiber and made it sound like we eat way less fiber than we used to. -Regan

    1. Yes! I should go back and watch it again and see if he has data to support! A decrease is what I would believe...


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