It’s not the most talked about of topics, but fibre quietly plays a very important role in our bodies. Also known as roughage or bulk, fibre is made up of the hard to digest parts of plant foods.
There are 2 main types of fibre:
1. Insoluble Fibre is found in wheat bran, wholegrain foods and vegetables. This keeps your bowels regular. your digestive system healthy and may help protect against colon cancer. The fibrous foods act like a brush, sweeping out the intestines. 2. Soluble fibre can help decrease blood cholesterol levels and can aid blood glucose control. A natural aid to helping protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It is found in oats, barley, oranges, beans and pulses.
How To Eat More:
We should aim to eat 6 servings of whole-grains a day. That’s 25g/day for women and 38/day for men aged 19-50 years. An easier way to think about it is to eat whole-grains at every meal and snack on fruit where possible.
• Use wholemeal bread / rolls / pitta / bagels • Add wholemeal flour when baking instead of white flour • Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day • Add beans and pulses (kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, butter beans etc) to meals, for example: soups, salads, casseroles and curries. • Try beans on wholemeal toast for lunch • Add seeds to salads or sprinkle them on your cereal • Snack on nuts/seeds/unsalted popcorn and fruit
• Increase the fibre in your diet slowly to prevent gas and bloating, add one new portion of higher fibre food at a time. • Spread your fibre intake evenly over the day – some with each meal. • Increase your fluid intake alongside your fibre (6-8 glasses a day).
Carbohydrates are often seen as the baddies of the nutrition world. There are so many low carb diets out there and lots of claims about carbohydrates being the reason people can’t lose weight.
Carbohydrates are actually the bodies favoured energy source. Given a choice of protein, fat and carbohydrate the body will always choose to use the carbohydrate first. Why? Because carbohydrate foods easily break down to simple sugars that are the fuel the body needs. Proteins and fats needs to be converted to sugars in order to be used, a time consuming process that uses energy up. However you will put on weight if you OVEREAT carbohydrates or eat too much of the wrong kinds.
So where do these anti-carbohydrate claims come from?
After we eat carbohydrates, blood sugar levels increase and insulin is released. Insulin moves the sugar in the blood into the bodies cells and it will be used as fuel or stored as glycogen to be used later on. Eating too much carbohydrate in one go or more white, processed carbohydrates cause a larger, rapid peak in blood sugar levels. In response lots of insulin is released, which can cause a problem. After the insulin has done it’s job it takes a while to drop back down to normal levels, so you have insulin in the blood stream asking the body for more sugar. It’s this lag phase that can lead to you craving sugary food or wanting to eat a short while after a meal. If you eat like this you are likely to put on weight. Those hunger cravings will get the better of you and you’ll eat more than you need.
What happens if you avoid Carbs:
If carbs are the bodies preferred energy source then it makes sense that avoiding them can lead to you feeling tired, grumpy, lethargic, perhaps dizzy and shaky. Ever had that energy slump after skipping a meal?
How to eat Carbohydrates without gaining weight:
Eat carbohydrates at every meal. Just watch your portion size. If you are trying to lose weight keep those carbs to 1/3 of your plate, steer clear of adding creamy sauces, butter and oils to them.
Go Wholegrain. Wholegrains have been shown to protect against cancer, obesity, diabetes and obesity. Choose wholemeal, granary or multi-grain bread, whole oats, weetabix, shredded wheat, bran flakes, rye bread, oatcakes,brown rice and pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa, pearl barley and anything with the word whole/wholegrain in from of it!
Lower the glycaemic index of meals. Adding lower GI foods (many of which are wholegrains too) will help stabilise your blood sugars, preventing the peaks and dips that can cause those sugar cravings. Also try adding beans and pulses to your main meals.
This post was written for Slimsticks and can be seen on their website here.
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.