We’ve all heard the conflicting and changing nutrition advice out there on TV, magazines, and the web. Good carbs, bad carbs, low fat, good fat, low sugar—it’s hard to keep up! However, one piece of nutrition advice that has been consistent is fiber. More is better and most Americans –gluten free or not- are not getting enough. The AI (Adequate Intake) recommended in the 2010 dietary guidelines is 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories, or 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men.
The gluten-free diet presents even more of a challenge in meeting this goal as many high fiber foods you may have been used to such as whole wheat bread, bran flakes, whole wheat pasta, and fiber bars are now not an option. Also, the gluten-free flours often used in prepared gluten-free items (like rice flour) are lacking in fiber content.
A few Fiber-Facts:
• Fiber is generally referred to in two categories: soluble and insoluble. Both are good for you!
• Soluble fiber slows absorption of glucose (good for those with diabetes), lowers cholesterol, and slows GI transit time. Soluble fiber can be found in apples, cooked beans and peas, citrus fruits, plums, certified gluten-fee oats (if tolerated), and flaxseed.
• Insoluble fiber helps create “bulk” to your stool to keep your bowels moving regularly, may help prevent certain GI diseases such as diverticular disease and colon cancer, and aid in weight loss by creating a feeling of fullness. Sources of insoluble fiber include: dark green leafy vegetables, cabbage, nuts, seeds, potatoes, corn, strawberries, and carrots.
It’s important not to worry about how much soluble vs. insoluble fiber you are eating. Many of these foods actually include both soluble and insoluble fiber. In some cases fiber supplements are needed, however, I always encourage people to try food first! Besides just fiber, you are also getting all the other benefits of vitamins and minerals from eating these healthy foods. And as you can see—so many naturally gluten free options!!
Here are some tips to include more fiber in your gluten-free daily routine:
Add ground flaxseed and raisins to your hot cereal
Add blueberries and strawberries to your cold cereal
Substitute almond or bean flour for some of the white rice flour in your favorite gluten-free pancake or waffle recipe. Use a mix? (like me!) –top your waffle with walnuts and banana slices
Make scrambled eggs or an omelet with peppers and onions
Add frozen vegetables, dried beans or peas to your soup
Substitute brown rice for white rice at dinner. Or get adventurous and try a new-gluten-free grain such as quinoa, wild-rice, or buckwheat.
Top your baked potato with broccoli and cheese
Top your spinach salad with grilled chicken, corn and black beans
Replace your gluten-free pretzels with trail-mix including popcorn, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits
Top low fat yogurt with fruits and nuts
Snack on fresh veggie strips such as peppers, carrots, and cucumbers
Replace your potato chips with popcorn
For more snack ideas (all including a good amount of fiber) check out this post I wrote for GF Kid