Fiber and a Plant-Based Diet - dummies

Fiber and a Plant-Based Diet

By Marni Wasserman

You can never see enough commercials telling you to eat more fiber; American society lacks fiber. It’s from not only the processed food but also the meat and dairy that the average North American eats, all of which have no fiber. Luckily, the plant-based diet is full of fiber; in fact, you can’t get away from it! Here is why fiber is so fabulous:

  • Keeps you regular: Fiber is the roughage from fruits and veggies. When it’s in your body, your digestive system has no choice but to push the fiber and other things along and out, which makes for healthy daily deposits in your toilet bowl.

    It’s ideal to have a bowel movement at least once a day, but some people may not be so lucky. The goal is consistency, quantity, and ease of elimination.

    Of course, it can work against you, too. If you’re prone to constipation, your body may take a little longer to get used to the fiber from whole foods, so take it slow when introducing them into your diet.

  • Keeps you fuller longer: Fiber means bulk, which means more satisfying and filling. Fibrous foods send signals to your brain telling you that you’re full much sooner than foods with no fiber. Therefore, you may find that you eat less than you’re used to when you eat fiber-rich foods. Also, fibrous foods require more chewing because of the roughage, so it may take you longer to chew, swallow, and digest.

    Eating high-fiber foods — which take longer to eat — can mean that you ultimately eat less because your brain has more time to process the “full” signal.

  • Adds more texture to your foods: The diversity of texture that fiber offers to your plate is exceptional. Each fruit, vegetable, and whole grain has its own complexity of fiber, which adds to the diversity in your meals.

In the beginning, fiber will not be your friend. When you first introduce all the roughage, skins, seeds, and other textures of plants, your gut may have a not-so-fun time getting used to it all. Stick it out. Just eat it for a bit.

You may feel gassy, bloated, and just “full” all the time, but your gut needs to get used to this and figure out how to pass these new foods along. When it starts working properly, you’ll find that you depend on natural fiber from whole foods, not store-bought powders, to keep you going every day.

Because fiber draws water out of your body, drink lots of water when you eat fibrous foods to help it move along.