Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tips for Boosting Your Fiber Intake

Have you been hearing about fiber a lot lately? Most Americans are not getting the recommended intake for fiber, which can be preventative against diseases like diabetes, diverticulitis and certain types of cancer. Low fiber intake is mainly related to the fact that many do not consume enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

What is Fiber?
Dietary fiber is the indigestible component of plant foods, while functional fibers are isolated non-digestible carbohydrates that can be extracted from natural sources or manufactured synthetically and added to foods/supplements. There are two types of fiber that can be found in food sources: soluble (which absorb water during digestion) and insoluble fiber (which remain unchanged during digestion). Soluble fiber is found in foods like oats, barley, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, citrus fruits, apples, and carrots. Soluble fiber may help to lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, and regulate blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber is found in foods like seeds, vegetables, whole grains, and the skins of fruit. Insoluble fiber aids the digestive system in maintaining regularity and may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

What is the Recommendation?
As per the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines, the recommended fiber intake for women ages 19-30 years old is 28g per day and for males 34g per day. Aiming for about 3-4 servings of fruit and 4-5 servings of vegetables each day can help you to boost your fiber intake to the recommended values.

Top 10 Ways to Increase Fiber (Without Supplements)
1. Read food labels and look for products with at least 3g of fiber per serving.
2. Eat whole fruit over juices. Juices are stripped of their fiber and antioxidant content.
3. Substitute meat dishes (chili, soups, stir-fries) with beans! One-half cup of chickpeas has 8g of fiber!
4. Choose whole grain varieties over refined counterparts (i.e. 100% whole wheat pasta for white).
5. Swap white rice (0g fiber) for quinoa (1/2 cup = 2.5g fiber).
6. Snack on fresh fruits like oranges, which have 3g of fiber and raspberries, which have 8g of fiber per cup.
7. Keep the skins on your fruits and veggies when possible to retain all of the fiber. A medium sweet potato with the skin on contains 4g of fiber!
8. Power-up your breakfast with oatmeal (1/2 cup dry = 4g fiber) + nuts (1-ounce almonds = 3.5g fiber) + flax or chia seeds (1 tablespoon = 4g fiber) + fresh fruit. 
9. Power-up salads with fresh veggies, beans, and seeds.
10. Power-up sandwiches by choosing a high-fiber bread and topping with avocado (1/2 cup = 5g fiber) instead of mayo.

While it may seem impossible to get enough fiber in the day, you can start by making simple swaps. Try using whole grain bread versus white or swapping in spiralized zucchini for a pasta base. Making small changes can help you to form new and healthy habits. One thing to remember when increasing your fiber intake is to drink plenty of fluids. Also, increase your intake slowly to avoid GI discomfort.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Top 3 Tips for Sticking to Your Goals

Happy February! How is everyone doing with your resolutions? In January, it seemed a bit easier to get working on those new goals; however, once February hit, is often a bit harder to keep yourself on track. It can be discouraging to lose that momentum when you are trying to start or change a habit. When you find yourself getting off track with any goals or resolutions, it may be a good time to remind yourself why you are doing this. This can help to motivate you to keep moving forward on your healthy lifestyle journey. 

Below are my top 3 tips to help you stick with your New Year's resolutions (or goals for that matter)!

1. Track your progress. 

If you haven't tracked your progress since January, think about starting now. When you track your goal progression, it makes it easier to look back and see how far you have come from your starting point. You can try different methods of tracking like keeping a paper journal (for daily and/or weekly accomplishments), making checkmarks on a monthly calendar, using an app or web-based program, etc. Tracking your progress also comes with planning. If you have a busy lifestyle (like most of us do), try scheduling a time for exercise in your calendar or circling the day where you are going to meal prep. 

2. Re-evaluate your goals. 

Reassess those goals monthly (or even weekly) to see if they need to be altered in any way. The goal you set in January may not be relevant to where you are in February. Also, make sure the goals you set are not too vague or unrealistic. Aiming for a 30-pound weight loss may be a great long-term goal; however, it can also seem a bit intimidating. If you still want to shoot for the weight-loss, think about weekly smaller goals you can focus on, which could mean aiming for 1-2 pounds of weight-loss. Also, when thinking about your goals, ask yourself how you plan to achieve that goal. Do you need to cut back on added sugars, incorporate more exercise, or increase your fiber intake? Breaking down your goals and being more specific about what you are going to do can help you to accomplish them. 

3. Make healthy eating and fitness fun.
Often, preparing healthy meals and exercising can be seen as a chore or something that you SHOULD do (and not WANT to do). Think about switching up your routine to make it more appealing. If you're trying to incorporate more exercise, find a walking partner or coordinate with someone to meet up at the gym. If you're trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, look for fun and different recipes to try. You can even get your family/friends involved by doing a "meal-prep-Sunday" event! Putting a creative spin on your goals can help boost your motivation and positivity, which both can make a huge difference in your healthy lifestyle journey!

Post is co-authored by Felicia Porrazza (Owner & Registered Dietitian at PorrazzaNutrition) and Christine Farinella (Dietetic intern with the University of Delaware that holds a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics from West Chester University).