Updated: Sep 24, 2020
If you've been around for awhile now, you know that one of the best gut supporting things you can do is increase your plant fiber consumption. More plant fiber = more prebiotic bacteria in your gut = a healthier gut.
The USDA recommends that women consume 26-30 grams and men consume 38 grams of fiber a day. I think that is a conservative number as some of the healthiest cultures in the world consume upwards of 100 grams a day, but somewhere around 30 is a good starting place.
Well, Americans typically consume between 10-15 grams of fiber daily. And that number includes processed food that has had fiber added to it, which isn't the same.
We are getting only a 1/3 of what we need and it is having disastrous consequences.
Gasteroenterologists are seeing more and more patients these days. A common theme is that they are constipated or rely on a stimulant to help them poop. Long term constipation (not pooping 1-3x a day) can lead to a number of health issues including IBS, autoimmune conditions, gastrointestinal disease, hemorrhoids, and even colorectal cancer.
If you aren't hitting the John regularly, grab my free 5 Tips for Top Notch Digestion PDF linked here!
One of the tips I share in the PDF is to increase your fiber consumption to 30-40 grams of real food fiber a day.
Now, if you are someone that is getting very little fiber, I want you to do this slowly. Going from 10 grams a day to 40 will be hard on your system. Instead, up your fiber load with one meal a week. Or slowly start swapping out your fiberless staples with some that are fiber-full!
Here are five easy swaps you can make to increase your plant fiber intake.
Swap 1: Rolled Oats for Cereal
There are so many cereals out there that tout their grams of fiber on the front of the box. Unfortunately, these cereals also come along with lots of sugar, tons of ingredients you don't know, and are processed.
Rolled oats on the other hand have just one ingredient- oats! Little to no processing involved, no scary ingredients, and no added sugar. And they are packed with fiber- 1/2 a cup has between 6-10 grams of fiber. This high dose of real-food plant fiber is easy for your body to recognize, breakdown, and digest. It also keeps you feeling full and satisfied longer than a bowl of processed cereal.
However, plain old oats are boring. I like dressing them up with super ripe bananas, nuts, seeds, almond butter, berries, cinnamon + nutmeg, and a drizzle of honey. Many of these toppings add even more to your fiber intake- woo hoo!
If you want a really easy way to swap your cereal for oats, try my Overnight Oats recipe. It takes even less time than pouring yourself a bowl of cereal every morning!
Swap 2: Beans for Heavy Cream
Beans are GOLD for digestive support as they have around 20 grams of fiber per cup. One of the things I love about beans is their diversity, which really comes into play with this swap.
If you love a creamy soup or a rich bisque, this tip is for you! Typical creamy soup recipes call for heavy cream. It's delicious but offers little to no health benefits, and for many, can cause digestive distress.
Swap the cup of cream in your recipe with pureed cannellini beans. If you are making a soup that will be pureed, throw 1-1.5 cups of white beans for every cup of cream and puree as directed. If your soup won't be pureed, puree the beans using a blender before tossing them in the soup and stir. You might need to add a little more broth to get to your desired consistency.
You will be shocked at how creamy beans can make a soup. Don't believe me? Grab my Homemade Tomato Soup recipe and prepare to have your mind blown!
Swap 3: Chia Seeds
Ok, this isn't really a swap but I would like to suggest adding a new ingredient to your meals- chia seeds!
Chia seeds have about 4 grams of fiber in one tablespoon and you can't even taste them. Throw these in your smoothie, top your salad with them, or sprinkle them on top of your tomato soup as they are another great resource to up your fiber game.
Into parfaits? Whip up my Chia Seed Pudding recipe and top it with some Greek yogurt, berries, and honey, and your parfait just helped you get closer to your fiber goal.
Swap 4: Chickpea Cookie Dough for Cookie Dough
Chickpeas in cookie dough? Ok, this sounds weird, but it's sooo good and is a dessert you can feel good about because you know you are getting a bit of fiber in the process.
I don't know about you but whenever we make cookies at home I ask Brian to save some dough for me.(Brian is the cookie maker- his are way better than mine!) Honestly, sometimes I'm only in it for the dough. So this recipe felt like it was made for people like me- peeps that want to be healthy, eat something yummy, get in some fiber, and love cookie dough way more than the actual cookie.
Try swapping your old cookie dough recipe for this fiber filled Chickpea Cookie Dough recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie!
Swap 5: Air Popped Popcorn for Chips
I HATE it when I see a nutritionist suggest swapping chips for carrots and hummus or an apple. That's not the same flavor profile I'm looking for! Don't worry, I wouldn't expect to you make a swap like that. Instead, give air popped popcorn a try the next time you are craving something salty and crunchy.
Popcorn has around 4 grams of fiber per cup of popped popcorn. Snack on a few cups and your fiber intake gets a nice boost. However, I don't recommend packaged popcorn. Too many processed ingredients. Popping your own popcorn takes about the same amount of time and is even more delicious if you follow this recipe~
While the popcorn is popping, warm up a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a small sauce pan so that it is completely melted.
When the popcorn is done, drizzle it with the coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt (or any seasonings you like), tossing so it gets evenly coated.
*Popcorn recipe credit to my friend Lennon who introduced it to me and makes it for us every time we come over for a movie night!
There you have it, five easy swaps you can make to increase your fiber consumption so you start having consistent bowel movements and start healing your gut!
Let me know what swap you try out and how you like it by leaving a comment below!