Healthy Eating Guidelines for Increasing Your Fibre Intake

Posted: Oct 4, 2012

Why This Diet is Important

This fact sheet provides tips on how to add more fibre-rich foods in your diet. There are different kinds of fibre found in foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes (peas, beans, lentils) and whole grains and cereals.
 
Some fibre can help to lower blood cholesterol and control blood glucose (sugar) levels. This is called soluble fibre and is found in some vegetables and fruit and legumes. Other types of fibre, called insoluble fibre from some vegetables and fruit, whole grains and wheat bran, help keep your bowels regular and may protect against colon cancer.
Constipation may be improved with a diet that is high in fibre.
 
It is important to eat a variety of foods to get enough of both types of fibre. A healthy diet includes 25-38 grams of fibre a day. Talk to a dietitian if you want help on increasing the dietary fibre in your diet.
 

Steps You Can Take

Use Canada's Food Guide to plan your meals and snacks.  Visit the Health Canada website at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php to get a copy of the guide.

  • Grains
    • Eat at least six servings of whole grain products every day. Examples include rolled oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat breads, breakfast cereals and pasta.
    • Use whole grain bread, rolls, pita or bagels when making toast or sandwiches.
  • Replace at least half of the white flour with whole-wheat flour in your recipes.
  • Add 15-30 mL (1-2 Tbsp) of bran, ground flax seed or a very high fibre cereal to your cereal in the morning.

  • Vegetables and Fruit
    • Eat at least seven servings of vegetables and fruit every day. Aim for 1-2 servings of fruit and vegetables at every mealand snack.
    • Eat the peels of your vegetables and fruits whenever possible.
  • Try having fruit as a snack or as a dessert. Pears, raspberries and blackberries are top choices for fibre. Guava, persimmon and kumquat are exotic high fibre fruits worth trying.
  • Eat vegetables and fruit instead of drinking juice.

  • Legumes
    • Add barley, beans, peas or lentils to soups, stews and casseroles. For example, add black beans to spaghetti sauce or lentils to soup.
    • Roast chickpeas or steam edemame (soybeans in a pod) for an easy snack.
    • Use legume-based dips (ex: hummus, baba ghanoush) for veggies instead of sour cream based.

  • Nuts and Seeds
    • Add toasted nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds to salads and cereals.
    • Sprinkle on pasta dishes and stir-fries.
    • Grab a handful of nuts (60 mL (1/4 cup) as a quick snack.

  • Read Food Labels
    • Compare products and pick the one with the most fibre. Be sure you are comparing the same serving sizes.
    • Check for grams of fibre. High-fibre foods have four or more grams of fibre per serving.
    • Look for ingredients such as bran, whole grain whole wheat, oatmeal or rye flour.
  • Increase the fibre in your diet slowly to avoid gas, bloating and diarrhea.
  • Divide fibre-containing foods throughout the day at both meals and snacks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Here is an example of how to increase your fibre intake with only a few small changes:

Low Fibre Diet

Fibre (g)

Fibre (g)

High Fibre Diet

Breakfast

 

 

Breakfast

175 mL (3/4 cup) flaked corn cereal  (30 g)

0.8

5.0

125 mL (1/2 cup) flaked bran cereal
(30 g)

250 mL (1 cup) low fat milk

0.0

0.0

250 mL (1 cup) low fat milk

1 slice white toast (35 g)

0.9

3.2

1 slice whole wheat toast (35 g)

15 mL (1 Tbsp) jam

0.2

0.9

15 mL (1 Tbsp) peanut butter

125 mL (1/2 cup) orange juice

0.3

3.1

1 small orange (140 g)

Lunch     Lunch
2 slices white bread (70 g) 1.8 6.2 2 slices whole wheat bread
(70 g)
75 g light tuna 0.0 0.0 75 g light tuna
15 mL (1 Tbsp) light mayonnaise 0.0 0.0 15 mL (1 Tbsp) light mayonnaise
1 medium leaf lettuce (10 g) 0.1 0.1 1 medium leaf lettuce (10 g)
½ tomato. sliced (62 g) 0.8 0.8 ½ tomato. sliced (62 g)
125 mL (½ cup) vanilla yogurt (135 g) 0.0 0.0 125 mL (½ cup) vanilla yogurt (135 g)
    2.0 60 mL (1/4 cup) raspberries
Snack     Snack
1 medium apple (140 g) 2.6 5.0 1 medium pear (166 g)
Water     Water
Supper     Supper

75 g baked chicken breast

1.0

1.0

75 g baked chicken breast

125 mL (½ cup) mashed potato (110 g)

1.6

4.0

1 medium baked potato with skin
(173 g)

125 mL (½ cup) carrots (82 g)

2.2

2.2

125 mL (½ cup) carrots (82 g)

250 mL (1 cup) low fat milk

0.0

1.2

250 mL (1 cup) romaine lettuce salad (60 g)

125 mL (1/2 cup) vanilla pudding

0.0

0.0

250 mL (1 cup) low fat milk

 

 

1.3

125 mL (1/2 cup) fruit cocktail

Snack

 

 

Snack

4 melba toast crackers (20 g)

1.3

2.4

1/2 whole wheat pita (32 g)

1 oz. cheddar cheese (30 g)

0.0

2.5

60 mL (1/4 cup) hummus

125 mL (1/2 cup) grapes

1.0

1.0

125 mL (1/2 cup) grapes

Water

 

 

Water

 

 

 

 

Total Fibre

15.8 g

41.9 g

Total Fibre

 

Here is an example of how to increase your fibre intake with only a few small changes:
Low Fibre Diet Fibre (g) Fibre (g) High Fibre Diet
Breakfast     Breakfast
175 mL (3/4 cup) flaked corn cereal  (30 g) 0.8 5.0 125 mL (1/2 cup) flaked bran cereal
(30 g)
250 mL (1 cup) low fat milk 0.0 0.0 250 mL (1 cup) low fat milk
1 slice white toast (35 g) 0.9 3.2 1 slice whole wheat toast (35 g)
15 mL (1 Tbsp) jam 0.2 0.9 15 mL (1 Tbsp) peanut butter
125 mL (1/2 cup) orange juice 0.3 3.1 1 small orange (140 g)
Lunch     Lunch
2 slices white bread (70 g) 1.8 6.2                  2 slices whole wheat bread
(70 g)
75 g light tuna 0.0 0.0 75 g light tuna
15 mL (1 Tbsp) light mayonnaise 0.0 0.0 15 mL (1 Tbsp) light mayonnaise
1 medium leaf lettuce (10 g) 0.1 0.1 1 medium leaf lettuce (10 g)
½ tomato. sliced (62 g) 0.8 0.8 ½ tomato. sliced (62 g)
125 mL (½ cup) vanilla yogurt (135 g) 0.0 0.0 125 mL (½ cup) vanilla yogurt (135 g)
    2.0 60 mL (1/4 cup) raspberries
Snack     Snack
1 medium apple (140 g) 2.6 5.0 1 medium pear (166 g)
Water     Water
Supper     Supper
75 g baked chicken breast 1.0 1.0 75 g baked chicken breast
125 mL (½ cup) mashed potato (110 g) 1.6 4.0 1 medium baked potato with skin (173 g)
125 mL (½ cup) carrots (82 g)    2.2 2.2 125 mL (½ cup) carrots (82 g)   
250 mL (1 cup) low fat milk 0.0 1.2 250 mL (1 cup) romaine lettuce salad (60 g)
125 mL (1/2 cup) vanilla pudding 0.0 0.0 250 mL (1 cup) low fat milk
    1.3 125 mL (1/2 cup) fruit cocktail
Snack     Snack
4 melba toast crackers (20 g) 1.3 2.4 1/2 whole wheat pita (32 g)
1 oz. cheddar cheese (30 g) 0.0 2.5 60 mL (1/4 cup) hummus
125 mL (1/2 cup) grapes 1.0 1.0 125 mL (1/2 cup) grapes                                        
Water     Water
       
Total Fibre 15.8 g 41.9 g Total Fibre


Source: "Canadian Nutrient File 2010" .
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/fiche-nutri-data/index-eng.php
[Accessed September 21, 2012]