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How Much Fiber Do You Need in Your Diet?

Although there's no Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for fiber, most health experts agree that we should aim for 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber each day (a mix of both soluble and insoluble). The following menu shows a few ideas to help you raise your intake of fiber.

Ready-Made Menu
This sample day provides about 31 grams of fiber:
Breakfast Bowl of bran cereal with milk
Glass of juice
Lunch Roast beef sandwich on wheat bread
Cup of vegetable barley soup
Apple with skin
A lot of water
Snack Soy Crisps
Low-fat yogurt
Dinner Mixed green salad
Grilled fish with sautéed carrots
Baked sweet potato
Fresh strawberries
Club soda with lemon

Tips to Increase the Fiber in Your Diet

As you read the following tips, keep these points in mind. It's important to increase your fiber gradually (sometimes over several weeks) because your body needs time to adjust. For example, if you are a newcomer to the world of fiber, start with 20 grams each day for the first week. Increase to 25 grams per day the second week, and—if your stomach can handle it—graduate to 30+ grams per day by week three. Also, drink plenty of fluids. Fiber acts as a bulking agent by absorbing some of the fluid in your body. Extra fluids will prevent you from becoming dehydrated, and most important, help that bulk to move merrily on its way.

How much fiber
do kids need?

Although recent research suggests that kids should take in 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories eaten, this may be too much for small bellies to handle. Nutritionists who work with children generally use the formula "Age plus 5" for healthy kids ages 3 to 18. For example, a 5-year-old should have 10 grams of fiber per day (5+5=10).

  • Read nutrition labels. Generally, a good source of fiber should have at least 2.5 grams per serving.
  • Start your day with a high-fiber breakfast cereal. Supermarkets are flooded with them. Read the nutrition label and select a cereal that offers more than 4 grams per serving.
  • Add a few tablespoons of wheat bran to your cereal, cottage cheese, yogurts, and salads.
  • Include plenty of fresh or frozen vegetables in your day. Add them to soups, pizza, sandwiches, stir-fries, pastas, omelets, rice, and anything else you can think of.
  • Eat breads and pasta made from wheat, rye, and oat products, along with brown rice, barley, and bulgur.
  • Add fruit to your cereal (hot or cold), top off your pancakes and waffles with fruits, mix fruits into yogurts and salads, or simply enjoy them plain. Remember, whole fruit, with seeds and peels intact, provides more fiber than most fruit juice.
  • Cook with beans and lentils. They are loaded with fiber. Enjoy them in soups, stews, salads, burritos, and a million other creative entrees.
  • Get your fiber from food sources, not supplements. Food is a natural provider not only of fiber, but other essential nutrients as well.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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