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How to Fit Fiber Into Your Day

Diet and Nutrition

January 11, 2024

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Photography by Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

Photography by Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

by Sarah Garone

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Medically Reviewed by:

Kim Rose-Francis RDN, CDCES, LD

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•••••

by Sarah Garone

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Kim Rose-Francis RDN, CDCES, LD

•••••

•••••

Besides fiber’s direct effects on blood sugar, it offers other benefits for people living with type 2 diabetes.

We all know that fiber “puts the moves” on digestive health, but there’s much more to the story of what this nutrient can do.

If you have type 2 diabetes, fiber is particularly your friend due to its ability to help stabilize blood sugar. Since the body technically doesn’t digest dietary fiber, it doesn’t raise and drop blood glucose like other carbs. (Nice, right?)

Fiber slows digestion by staying in the stomach longer than other nutrients. Bonus: You may not get hungry as quickly, leading to weight loss (if that’s a goal of yours). It doesn’t hurt that many high-fiber foods are also low in calories (think fruits and veggies).

Then, there’s also fiber’s impact on your cardiovascular system. Fiber attaches to cholesterol particles, taking them out of circulation in your blood. When you have lower cholesterol, you have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Since people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of these conditions, that’s a very good thing.

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What are the different types of fiber?

Fiber is found in tons of different foods, but the two main types of fiber are known as soluble and insoluble.

Though you might not always see them listed individually on food labels, they perform some unique bodily functions.

So what’s the difference? Soluble fiber, as its name implies, is dissolvable in water. Once it dissolves in the fluids in the gut, it creates a gel-like substance that’s slow to digest.

According to 2019 research, this type of fiber has been associated with health benefits like lowering cholesterol. A 2018 review of research suggests soluble fiber stabilizes blood sugar.

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, doesn’t dissolve. It makes its way through the digestive system whole. It’s the type responsible for fiber’s most famous benefit: adding heft to your stool to prevent constipation, researchers say.

There’s no wrong time of day to get your fiber on! As a nutritionist, I’ve got plenty of inspo for how to add this important nutrient any time.

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Benefits of fiber

Fiber is the MVP (the “most valuable player” for sports fans) of daily eating. Here’s a snapshot of what it can do for your health and wellness:

  • slows digestion
  • promotes feelings of fullness
  • helps lower cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • promotes regular bowel movements by adding bulk to stool
  • stabilizes blood sugar
  • feeds healthy bacteria in the gut

Meals or food rich in fiber

There’s no wrong time of day to get your fiber on! As a nutritionist, I’ve got plenty of inspo for how to add this important nutrient any time.

Breakfast

Many breakfasts are based around grains, making them a natural opportunity for added fiber. By switching from refined to whole grains, you’ll immediately boost fiber content.

Cereals made with bran flakes or brown rice, for example, give you a fiber-rich start on the day. Or choose oatmeal or even quinoa for a warm morning porridge.

I always recommend getting a serving of fruit in at breakfast, too. Pop some berries atop hot or cold cereal, toast, or pancakes with sliced banana, or stir melon chunks into a yogurt parfait.

Veggies can also make an appearance at breakfasttime. If you enjoy eggs in the morning, toss in some spinach, kale, or sliced tomatoes for a speedy fiber upgrade.

Lunch

Even a quick midday meal can offer serious fiber — it just takes a bit of planning ahead.

Packing your lunches, rather than grabbing a bite out, is the best route to higher-fiber eating. Most restaurant meals — especially fast food ones — aren’t known for offering much fiber.

Some possibilities: Upgrade the usual sandwich by choosing 100% whole wheat bread instead of white bread, then think how you might sneak in some veggies, such as avocado, sprouts, or arugula.

For something crunchy that offers more fiber than chips or pretzels, try snap pea crisps or roasted chickpeas (these days, you can purchase these rather than make them yourself). And don’t forget to pack a piece of fruit!

Soups and salads are another easy, high-fiber choice at lunch. A veggie chili or lentil soup hits the spot on a chilly day, while a salad packed with vegetables and beans (with a side of crusty whole grain bread, perhaps?) will get you through the afternoon with plenty of fiber and protein.

Dinner

So many high-fiber foods can take center stage on your dinner plate.

If you’re used to building dinner around a protein, try plant-based options that supply fiber. For example, tofu, beans, and quinoa provide a mix of fiber and protein. Use them to create tasty stir fries, stews, casseroles, and grain bowls. Or round out an animal-based protein dinner with high-fiber sides like brown rice, broccoli, or sautéed spinach.

For more variety, you can always make the most of cultural foods like Mexican and Indian cuisine, which often revolve around beans and lentils. A red lentil dal or black bean enchiladas pack fiber and flavor.

Snacks

Don’t discount snacks’ potential for added fiber! Fresh or dried fruits, nutty trail mixes, high-fiber protein or granola bars, and veggies with hummus make good snack choices when feeling hungry between meals.

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Takeaway

For people with type 2 diabetes, adding fiber is a simple step in a healthy direction. To bring your A1C into a lower range, don’t be afraid to “rough up” your intake with plenty of roughage like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.

In fact, I recommend trying fiber first and planning meals and snacks around your favorite sources of it. If you’re not used to a lot of fiber in your diet, ramp things up slowly to prevent digestive discomfort.

Medically reviewed on January 11, 2024

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About the author

Sarah Garone

Sarah Garone is a nutritionist, freelance writer, and food blogger. Find her sharing down-to-earth nutrition info at A Love Letter to Food or follow her on Twitter.

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