Tag: fiber

A Better Bowl of Cereal

If you like cereal for breakfast or a late night snack, you’re not alone. The most popular varieties I see on food logs are Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Nut or regular Cheerios, Special K, Chex, Raisin Bran, etc. While these don’t have a ton of sugar it’s certainly true that they’re processed and lack protein and fiber so they break down very fast in the bloodstream as sugar/glucose. All highly processed carbohydrates do that. Luckily, when we use dairy or soy milk we add some protein to the mix, but unfortunately beverages are digested quickly too. Bottom line is that any processed cereal digests quickly and can create a rise in blood sugar and for some a dopamine-induced pleasure response. And for some this can lead to an addictive response and cravings can escalate. This can certainly make it challenging to maintain or lose weight.

There are other reasons cereal can be alluring; we usually have it around and it’s easy. The crunch of cereal before it gets soggy can also be highly rewarding as we seek to chew our way out of the day’s stress.

When confronted with your next bowl of processed flakes, here are some whole food add-ins that can bring you more satiety and nutrition. You’ll likely feel fuller longer and avoid some of the physiological responses that lead to being hungry sooner or craving more. Try swapping half your bowl with the following add-ins:

  • Raw rolled oats (full of fiber and protein)
  •  Dried fruit
  •  Frozen blueberries (keeps the milk cold)
  •  Sliced banana
  •  Sliced almonds or chopped nuts (full of fiber, protein, and healthy fat)

If you’d like to start with a higher protein cereal, try any of the Kashi Go Lean varieties or Special K Protein Plus. (Kashi Go Lean also has added fiber.) I still think the whole food add-ins listed above are better choices as their nutrients take longer to digest and enter the bloodstream.

So, my advice is to experiment with ways to make your cereal less flaky. With half of your bowl as whole food add-ins, you’ve turned your average bowl into a better bowl.

Go with Your Gut

There is some important and growing research on our gut microbiome and its relation to our body weight that I’ve been paying attention to lately and so should you.

In a nutshell, it’s not just what we eat or how we eat, it’s how our food is being digested that can affect how we store and absorb calories and their nutrients. In a study published recently in JAMA, scientists took the gut bacteria from fat mice and healthy weight mice and then implanted them in the other. Shockingly the fat mice lost weight and the normal weight mice got fat – and they were given the same type and amount of food!

We have not yet distinguished which of the gut bacteria are the culprits in terms of keeping us slim or fat. But what we do know is that we need a healthy and diverse microbiome in our gut and we need to feed our gut the foods that allow the healthy weight bacteria to flourish.

Here are my recommendations to make sure your gut bacteria are at their most optimal balance:

1)     If you need to go on an antiobiotic please take a probiotic or yogurt with live active cultures daily so that your gut diversity is kept intact. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that’s making you sick along with some of our beneficial gut bacteria.

2)     Keep your gut bacteria and the mucosal lining of your intestine intact by feeding yourself enough fiber – every day. Recommendations are 25-35g daily and sources can come from fruit, vegetables, whole grains and the fiber that is added in various processed bars, etc. Studies have shown that it takes just one day of eating low fiber to reduce our mucosal lining where our healthy gut bacteria live and flourish.

3)     If you went through courses of antibiotic use throughout your life (tetracycline was often used to treat acne in teenagers) and you fear that your digestion has been compromised – and your attempts at losing weight have often failed – it may be time to visit a Naturopath. A Naturopath can help you improve your digestion and re-colonize your gut bacteria so that it’s more diverse and balanced.

Now we know that eating enough fiber every day is not only what keeps us feeling full with less calories – it helps us feed a microbiome that’s likely to keep us at our healthiest weight.

You’re welcome to contact Kathryn at kathrynr@soundhealthconnect.com to discuss your current diet and strategies to better feed your healthy gut.


New Year’s Mindset: Mindful Eating vs. Dieting

I am not here to sell you on an approach to eating healthier this New Year. January is a busy month for Nutritionists and I agree it’s a great time to start anew. However, if you’ve tried more than enough dieting approaches before – lower calorie, lower carb, lower fat, higher protein, juicing, detoxes, “eat this but not that” – and you’ve burned out on them and returned to the same challenges around eating yet again – this may be your moment to focus on a different approach: mindful eating.

It can be scary to leave the structure of a diet mentality. We take comfort in numbers, what is good vs. bad and that which can be measured. Mindful eating, on the other hand, doesn’t start with an object to evaluate or deprive. Mindful eating is a process that starts with one simple tool: Curiosity.

Here are two examples that illustrate these two very different approaches:

Situation #1: Afternoon snack hits at work and the chips in the vending machine are calling my name.

Dieter:Chips are my downfall and they don’t have any fiber or protein so I won’t eat them. Fruit, string cheese or yogurt are healthy options.

Mindful Eater: I’m craving chips. If I get up out of my desk chair and take a walk or stairs for 5-10 minutes does that lower the craving? (Crunching helps release some stress hormones just as exercise does.) If not, are there healthier crunchy foods I can have that can satisfy the crunch as well? (Veggies in hummus, snap pea crisps, popcorn, akmak crackers with cheese.)

Bottom-Line Issue: Stress may be playing a part in your craving crunchy foods. Or it may just be a textural preference. Protein/fiber rich crunchy foods are better choices for you than yogurt.

 Situation #2: I have been craving carbs all day today.

Dieter:Fruit and light popcorn are healthy options. Keep focus so I won’t go over my calorie budget.

Mindful Eater: Did I get enough sleep last night? Am I getting some carbs with every meal to give me energy? Did I have protein with all my meals today? Did I eat enough fat today? Am I hydrated?

Bottom-Line Issue: Lack of sleep can cause refined carb cravings during the day. Also, lack of balance in combining carbs, protein and/or fat in meals can cause blood sugar imbalances which lead to cravings. Sometimes we’re hungry when we’re really thirsty.

 As you can see from these examples – starting with curiosity is not an easy approach. But it can lead to graceful experimentation and an end to judging ourselves. Sometimes all we’ll be able to do when we mindfully eat is to be aware as we’re eating that food in which we wish we weren’t. And without the judgment talking we’ll be able to listen in to how our bodies feel afterward. This is progress!

Curiosity creates the space for change. Here’s to more mindful eating and less judgment this New Year.

Fiber Helps Keep You Moving and Living Longer!

We all know that fiber is good for you but a recent study of 400,000 people age 50-71 has found that fiber can help you live longer! The men who ate 29 grams of fiber a day and the women who ate 26 grams of fiber a day were 22% less likely to die after 9 years than those who ate less fiber. More and more we are finding out that inflammation contributes to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The study found that fiber has anti-inflammatory properties.

So how can you eat a high fiber diet?
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high in fiber but to get above 25 grams a day you really need to add some beans/lentils.
You would have to eat 5 cups of broccoli or over 7 cups of brown rice to reach 25 grams but you only need ~1 ½ cups of beans or lentils to get to 25 grams of fiber.

  1. You can add beans and or lentils to a salad, soup or vegetable dish.
  2. You can have a bean and rice burrito for breakfast or lunch.
  3. You can have hummus and veggies for snack.
  4. The following recipe for Meatless Chili is not only high in fiber but also low in calories.

Enjoy and live long and prosper!

Meatless Chili
Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 can (16 ounces) chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cups cooked kidney beans, drained (reserve liquid)

Heat oil in a large saucepan; sauté garlic and onion until slightly brown. Sprinkle in chili powder and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes until a sauce is formed. Add reserve bean liquid if mixture becomes too dry.

Calories per serving: 160
Fiber per serving: 22 grams

Fiber in Foods
Fruits / Serving size / Total fiber (grams)
Pear, with skin / 1 medium / 5.1
Apple, with skin / 1 medium / 4.4

Grains, cereal & pasta / Serving size / Total fiber (grams)
Brown rice, cooked / 1 cup / 3.5

Legumes, nuts & seeds / Serving size / Total fiber (grams)
Split peas, cooked / 1 cup / 16.3
Lentils, cooked / 1 cup / 15.6
Black beans, cooked / 1 cup / 15.0
Kidney Beans / 1 cup / 18.0
Pinto Beans / 1 cup / 18.0
Sunflower seeds, hulled / 1/4 cup / 3.6
Pistachio nuts / 1 ounce / 2.9
Pecans / 1 ounce / 2.7

Vegetables / Serving size / Total fiber (grams)
Artichoke, cooked / 1 medium / 10.3
Broccoli, boiled / 1 cup / 5.1
Turnip greens, boiled / 1 cup / 5.0
Brussels sprouts, cooked / 1 cup / 4.1
Carrot, raw / 1 medium / 1.7