helps people feel fuller while consuming fewer calories.
But when people eat on the run, skimp on fruits and vegetables and snack on processed foods, “you don’t have many good sources of fiber,” says Judith Wylie-Rosett, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City who specializes in the links between nutrition and disease. “The obesity epidemic is concrete evidence that we’re not making as much progress as we need.”
Incorporating fiber into your diet
There are plenty of ways to incorporate more fiber in our diets. One pitfall, Wylie-Rosett says, is to feel overwhelmed by the challenge and try to pack in too much too quickly.
“Some people suddenly decide to increase their fiber intake all at once and get side effects, like feeling gassy and bloated,” she adds. “So they quit doing it.”
Instead, Slavin and Wylie-Rosett recommend incremental changes on the way to a more fiber-friendly diet. Here are some tips:
- Choose breads, pastas and cereals made from whole grains, as well as brown rice.
- Eat fruits like apples and oranges rather than drinking the juice. Berries with seeds, such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, are good sources of fiber, as are avocados.
- Include vegetables with every meal, and incorporate vegetables and legumes – especially beans, peas and lentils – into everyday recipes. Then snack on nuts, fruits and low-calorie popcorn.
Slavin has been dispensing advice like this for years – and watching people disregard it. “It’s hard to make fiber exciting,” she notes. “As dietitians, we prefer you eat a good diet and get all the servings of fruits and vegetables, but we also understand the average person isn’t getting there. So we have to meet them where they are.”
Slavin sees a growing trend toward adding fiber to foods you may not expect, from beverages to snack foods to candy gummies.
“If you’re going to have a cookie, have an oatmeal cookie,” she shares. “It doesn’t take large amounts of fiber to have a real effect. Everybody, even the fast-food industry, needs to be part of the solution. There’s a lot of space to get fiber in your diet you can tolerate, and it’s really important.”
Is fiber safe for you?
Diet doesn’t cause or cure ulcerative colitis, but what you eat can make a difference in your symptoms and flares. Consuming fiber during prolonged periods of remission can offer you benefits. However, consuming insoluble fiber can make ulcerative colitis symptoms worse if you are experiencing a flare.
For this reason, it is best to talk with a healthcare professional or dietitian before adjusting the levels of fiber in your diet.
By American Heart Association