Increasing Fiber in Your Diet

Purpose of the Diet

Relief of constipation, elimination of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or diverticular disease

What is Fiber?

Fiber is part of the plant (vegetable, fruit or grain) that is not digested by the G.I. tract. It's found in fruits and vegetables; whole grain breads and cereals; legumes such beans, peas, lentils, and nuts. Nuts are also high in fat.

How Much Fiber Should I Eat?

Fiber is measured in grams (usually abbreviated as "g"). You want to consume at least 30g of dietary fiber per day.

Moderate and high fiber foods are divided into three groups:
1. Fruits
2. Vegetables
3. Grains, starches and legumes

The sample meals will show you how many servings of these groups you should have every day and will increase your fiber intake gradually over a 6-week period.

Increasing Fluid Intake is Very Important

Fiber absorbs fluid, so it is VERY IMPORTANT to drink an adequate amount of liquid with a high fiber diet. You should drink 8 cups of liquid daily. Water is the best choice.

Commonly Asked Questions

Do I need to follow a high fiber diet exactly?
No, use it as a guide to increase the fiber in your diet

Will I get a lot of gas from all those beans and vegetables?
Try small portions at first and spread your servings throughout the day instead of just at one meal. Add higher fiber foods gradually to let your G.I. track get used to them. If you experience gas that is uncomfortable and/or embarrassing, try 5 or more drops of Beano on the first fork or spoonful of your vegetables or grains. Beano is available at many supermarkets and drugstores.

Will I gain weight on a high fiber diet?
Higher fiber foods tend to be filling and not high in calories. Weight gain depends upon the rest of your diet. Some meat, dairy products and snack foods can add fat and calories. In our high fiber diet you will find hints on how to cut back on the fat in your diet. The menu plans average about 1600 calories, which may be too high or too low for you depending on your weight. Do not eliminate foods or equivalent exchanges. Use the exchange lists to choose high and moderate fiber foods that you like.

Basics & Equivalents

The basics of a healthy high fiber diet are as follows:

  • Eat a variety of foods. This will help insure that you get adequate vitamins and minerals in your diet. A good rule of thumb is to make what's on your plate as colorful as possible.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. They may be raw or cooked. Juices don't count.
    * One serving of fruit equals 1/2 cup fresh fruit or 1/4 cup dried fruit
    * One serving of vegetables equals 2 cups raw lettuce or spinach, 1 cup other raw vegetables, 1/2 cup cooked vegetables.
  • Eat a least 5 servings of whole grain foods daily such as cereals, breads, grains, pasta and/or starchy vegetables like corn, green peas, squash, potato with skin. Legumes include split peas, beans and lentils. Fresh takes more prep time than canned but fresh is more nutritious.
    * One serving equals 1 oz. of cereal; 1/2 cup brown rice; 1/2 baked potato with skin; 1/3 cup cooked beans, peas, lentils; 1 slice of bread with more than 2g dietary fiber; 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta; 1/2 cup cooked corn, barley; 1 cup cooked acorn squash; 2/3 cup green peas; 2 1/2 cups air-popped popcorn; 2 whole grain crackers. There are lots of choices. Read the labels to compare.
  • Have at least one source of vitamin C daily. Foods high in vitamin C include fruit juice, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green and red peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, and potatoes.
  • Have at least one source of beta-carotene (vitamin A) at least every other day. Foods high in beta-carotene include carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, and mango.
  • Choose fresh vegetables over frozen and frozen over canned. Steaming vegetables or cooking in a small amount of water helps to retain Vitamin C and other water-soluble vitamins.
  • Milk and milk products are a good source of high quality protein, vitamins, calcium and other minerals.
    *Choose 2-3 servings of skim or 1% low-fat milk, low-fat or nonfat yogurt daily. A serving size is 8 oz. of milk or 6-8 oz. of yogurt
  • Protein is a good source of iron and vitamins.
    *Choose 2 servings/daily of LEAN meat, poultry or fish, low-fat cottage cheese or other cheeses, eggs and tofu.
    *A serving size is 3-4 oz. meat, poultry or fish; 1/2 cup tuna in water, 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese, 1 oz. cheese, 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan, 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 3 egg whites, 1/4 cup egg substitutes, 3 oz. tofu
    *Limit eggs to 6 a week
    *Limit hard cheese (Cheddar, Swiss, American). Eat low-fat cheeses such as part-skim Mozzarella or Alpine Lace.
High Fiber Menu