Eating More Fiber Helps Manage Holiday Munchies

Photo by Cherie Durbin courtesy of morguefile.com

“Mom, how about a snack?” my daughter asked as we walked around a shopping mall. She was 10 at the time.“What would you like?” I responded, ready to indulge her with a treat on our mother-daughter holiday shopping outing.

She paused and scratched her chin. I watched her scan the choices in front of us. I wondered what she would choose.

I could almost hear the Jeopardy theme song playing.

Fresh caramel rolls were just ahead. A candy shop was in sight, and ice cream was just around the corner. If this were a game show, though, I would bet she was going to choose freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

After a long pause, she said, “How about a small berry smoothie?”

I was pleasantly surprised, even though I would have lost the bet.

As we sipped our smoothies, she glanced up at me while we walked and said, “Do you notice that almost everyone is eating something?”

She was right.

At this time of year, we are tempted by all kinds of goodies, whether we spot them while shopping at the mall or at holiday parties. As next month’s resolutions will attest, holiday indulgences often lead to post-holiday diets.

I am going to make a radical suggestion: Eat more this holiday season. Allow me to clarify: Eat more high-volume, fiber-rich foods. Fiber fills you up without filling you out.

Most of us shortchange ourselves on the fiber recommendation, which averages about 25 grams per day for adults. Fiber is indigestible plant material found in foods such as cooked dry edible beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Fruit smoothies made with fresh berries fill the bill as a fiber-rich snack. They’re easy to make at home, too, if you have a blender or food processor.

In a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, women who doubled their fiber intake from 12 to 24 grams per day absorbed 90 fewer calories a day. In theory, this dietary change could result in a 9-pound weight loss in a year.

Besides helping with weight management, eating a fiber-rich diet also plays a role in helping prevent some chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

Remember to increase your fiber intake slowly. Adding fiber too quickly can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as gas, bloating and cramps.

Drink plenty of water when increasing your fiber intake because too much fiber without adequate fluid can lead to constipation. Fiber can absorb about 10 times its weight in water.

Before you go shopping or attend a holiday party, consider curbing your appetite with a fiber-rich snack, such as a piece of fruit, some veggies, a bowl of fiber-rich cereal or some crunchy popcorn.

These are some additional tips to add fiber to your diet.

  • Enjoy whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and whole-grain bread.
  • Read breakfast cereal labels. Look for cereals with about 5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Add beans, such as pinto, navy or kidney beans, to your favorite soups, casseroles or salads.
  • Set out a bowl of fresh fruit so it’s ready to grab and go.

As the weather gets chilly, warm up with a bowl of hearty, fiber-rich bean soup. A serving has more than one-third of the daily fiber recommendation.

Bean and Pasta Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cans (15-ounce) navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 c. reduced-sodium canned vegetable or chicken broth
3/4 c. short, tubular pasta

In stockpot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onions and carrots. Cook until vegetables are soft, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in tomato paste, beans, broth and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until soup has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. With a potato masher, mash some of the beans (still in pot) to thicken soup. Add pasta and cook about 10 minutes.

Makes six servings. Each serving has 240 calories, 46 grams (g) of carbohydrate, 1 g of fat, 9 g of fiber and 750 milligrams of sodium.

One thought on “Eating More Fiber Helps Manage Holiday Munchies

  1. i commend and will advocate your research and publications.
    i have been in the food ingredient business for over 30 years and have keenly taken a personal interest towards nutrition. keep up the excellent research and reporting!

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