When 2009 began, my husband and I had some lofty goals for a year of healthy living. Both overweight, we knew we were headed for a challenge when we vowed to eat healthier and exercise more. Now, ten months into our year, I’m proud to say that our goal was achieved-we made some healthy changes that really stuck.
My husband was the more successful of the two of us, having lost a whopping 52 pounds in ten months, and our friends and family have been impressed by our healthy changes. We’re often asked how we did it, as though our weight loss were achieved by some well-kept secret of the ages. But truthfully, it was a simple, fundamental change that got us going: adding fiber to our diets.
Increasing your fiber intake is easy to do, if you know where to find it. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are all excellent sources of fiber (Mayo Clinic, 2007). Just by adding spinach, lightly sautéed in olive oil, to our dinners we upped our nightly fiber intake by 4 grams! Other high-fiber foods include avocado (12g), collard greens (5g), unsweetened coconut (5g), broccoli (3g), and blackberries (8g), but the list goes on and on (Dolson). Even after making these basic additions, I noticed immediately that I felt fuller, longer, and stopped searching for those late-night, hunger-fighting snacks. This smarter choice reached far beyond the dinner table and changed my relationship with food.
Once we’d stocked up on fiber-filled fruits and vegetables, we headed for the pantry cabinets and began a serious detox. Right away, white breads, pastas, and rice were out. These are often bleached and stripped of many natural nutrients, including fiber, so we viewed them as a waste of calories. Whole grain pasta, like Ronzoni Healthy Harvest, and high-fiber breads are becoming more and more prevalent at the grocery store, so these substitutions were quick and easy to make. To satisfy the sweet tooth, we tried FiberOne yogurts, granola bars, and cereals. These were delicious, low in fat and sugar, and very high in dietary fiber, so the switch was easy to make.
It was important that we keep ourselves interested in our routine, so my husband and I tried new recipes once a week, took daily walks with our dog, and even sampled foods we’d never considered eating before. With a combined 73 pounds behind us, a renewed attitude toward health and wellness, and a pantry that’s both appetizing and nutritious, our healthy habits are starting to rub off on those around us.
If you’re interested in adopting a new way of eating and staying healthy, increased fiber in your daily diet is a quick and effective way to see results. The benefits of added fiber abound, stretching far beyond our weight loss goals. According to the Mayo Clinic, a higher fiber diet can also help prevent constipation, lower your risk for digestive conditions, lower blood cholesterol levels, and even control blood sugar levels. In fact, there is evidence that not enough fiber may be responsible for many of the common diseases we face (Murphy). Doctors advise that men and women aim for a daily intake of 25-35 to see optimal results.
Dolson, L. (2008). High-Fiber Low-Carb Food List. About.com. Retrieved October 5, 2009 from
Mayo Clinic (2007). Dietary Fiber: An essential part of a healthy diet. Retrieved October 5,
2009 from http://www.mayoclinic.com
Murphy, F. MD. What you don’t know can hurt you. Preventive Health Center online. Retrieved
October 5, 2009 from http://www.md-phc.com