Last week I found out from a nutritionist that 1 gram of fiber cancels out 7 calories. So if you got the recommended 30 grams of fiber per day, you’d erase about 210 calories from your diet, or about the amount you’d burn on a 40 minute walk – just by eating! Of course there are other benefits, like a healthy digestive tract and more regular bowel movements (yes, I said it), which is great for your overall health and will leave you less bloated.
But upping your fiber intake is tough. That’s why most Americans aren’t getting nearly enough. I shoot for just 25 grams a day and fall short quite a bit. So I culled some advice from nutritionists, my beloved Dr. Oz, and my own experience. Then I gathered it here to help you get to the magic number.
In our post about making healthy substitutions, we talked about switching out cream-based vegetable dips and butter on bread for olive oil dressings. Below is a recipe from Real Simple (with my modifications) for fresh vegetable dip that’s so fast and easy, washing and chopping the vegetables will be the longest task. It smells, tastes, and looks amazing at parties.
I also get a cheap glass dressing bottle with a vented pourer from a craft store or Bed, Bath, & Beyond and funnel everything into it. Pour it out, heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds, and you have a warm, healthy dip for whole grain bread and veggies any time. Or you can sprinkle it onto a salad – it quickly becomes addictive.
You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet and live on wheat bran, kale, and soy milk to eat healthier. The best thing you can do (and the easiest to stick to) is substitute things you already eat with healthier alternatives. Virtually everyone on my mother’s side of the family has some sort of food allergy or digestive illness so we’ve been learning how to find and prepare tasty food substitutes almost my entire life.
I learned even more about nutrition when my mother was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which forced her to drastically change her diet. Thankfully I’ve only had mild issues up to this point. But it’s caused me to work with my doctor to find healthy foods I actually like.
Here’s some of the best small steps you can take right now:
Lean, grass-fed, organic beef instead of regular ground beef
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to cut out red meat entirely or substitute it only with ground turkey, which lacks a certain amount of flavor. The real issues with red meat are fat, hormones, and grains. So a good solution is to look for lean, grass-fed, organic beef. Almost every grocery store is now carrying some version of this, though you have a better chance finding it at places like Wegman’s, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods.