Dietary fiber comes in 2 forms – insoluble and soluble. As the name suggests, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in the digestive tract, it passes straight through, providing bulk which helps food and waste move more efficiently through the system and preventing bowel problems such as constipation. Soluble fiber dissolves in the digestive tract and has a different function. It can help to reduce cholesterol in the bloodstream and so benefit heart health. Good sources of insoluble fiber are foods made with wheat bran, such as bran cereals, wholegrain bread and whole meal pasta; vegetables and pulses. Soluble fiber is found in non-wheat cereals such as oats, barley and rye, and in fruit.
There are many good reasons why people trying to lose weight should include plenty of high- fiber foods in the diet. High-fiber foods tend to be slow to eat and chew, so they contribute to a feeling of fullness. They are low in energy density, so they provide volume without a large quantity of calories, and they are slow to pass through the digestive system, so the feeling of fullness persists, helping to prevent ‘snack attacks’.
Those who start eating a lot more fiber may find they feel bloated or even show a weight gain at first: this is likely to be a short-term effect as fiber absorbs water. Drinking plenty of liquids will help to get the system running smoothly again and assuming the overall energy intake is reduced, weight loss will result in time.
Be Smart With Servings
Knowing the kinds of foods to eat when slimming is one thing; knowing how much to eat of everything is another. Unless they are trying to lose weight, most people don’t bother weighing and measuring food and drinks. The portion sizes of many pre-packaged foods have increased, especially sweets, snacks, fast food takeaways and restaurant meals. As a result, it is easy to lose sight of what standard servings look like in the overall balance of a healthy diet.
Weighing and Measuring
Some weighing and measuring is inevitable when getting to grips with serving sizes and reducing overall energy intake. It only takes a small daily surplus of calories to create a weight problem over time; checking portion sizes and keeping a food diary are key skills in achieving slimming success. Not every mouthful has to be monitored for life; with practice, it gets easier to estimate portion sizes of different foods and get used to the proportions of meals that satisfy the appetite without sending the calorie-count soaring.