18 ways to add more fiber to your diet

By Published On: May 1st, 2017

Being the brunt of potty jokes makes fiber not exactly […]

Being the brunt of potty jokes makes fiber not exactly the sexiest thing we can eat. But if you’re a proud owner of a baby bump or newborn, it’s something not to neglect. That’s because dietary fiber performs some pretty amazing functions in the body when you get enough.

Firstly, it’s an important ally in helping you dodge much loathed pregnancy constipation. Fiber also slashes the risk for gestational diabetes by improving blood sugar control and works to increase the population of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract for better gut health. A high-fiber diet can even help keep excess pregnancy weight gain at bay and make it easier for you to drop postpartum baby weight by improving satiety and, in turn, keeping your hand out of the cookie jar. And if you’re eating a fiber-rich diet, there is a good chance your daily menu is chockablock in the nutrient-dense whole foods you and your baby require for optimal health.

To get all of fiber’s benefits, you need about 30 grams a day—but, if you’re like most Americans, odds are you fail to eat this much. (Surveys say the average diet includes only half the necessary fiber). Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to spike your morning coffee with Metamucil to get your fix. Just a few dietary tweaks throughout the day can really add up.

If you eat:
Add: Chia seeds
Fiber gain: 6 grams in 2 tablespoons

More proof that great things come in small packages, mighty chia seeds are a top-notch source of fiber as well as inflammation-busting omega-3 fatty acids. also work them into cereal and smoothies.

If you eat: Oatmeal
Add: Dried figs
Fiber gain: 3 grams per two figs

The abundance of tiny seeds in parched figs makes them a fiber powerhouse. Bonus: they’re also a prime source of calcium to help mom and baby fortify bone strength. So use dried figs to add natural sweetness to a bowl of oats, yogurt and even salads.

If you eat: Pancakes
Add: Wheat bran
Fiber gain: 6 grams in 1⁄4 cup

When mixing up pancake batter, swap out a quarter of the flour with wheat bran to kick start a day of higher fiber consumption. As the concentrated source of the bran layer of the wheat kernel, flaky wheat bran offers up a payload of fiber and other must-have nutrients for moms-to-be. also mix it into oatmeal and baked goods.

If you drink: Smoothies
Add: Canned navy beans
Fiber gain: 3 grams in 1⁄4 cup

Mild-flavored navy beans add a shot of fiber and “creamy” body to smoothies without making your drink taste too beany. Here’s a starter recipe: Blend together 1 cup almond milk, 1 ⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt,1⁄4 cupnavy beans, 1 chopped frozen banana, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey and 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon.

If you eat: Toast
Add: Pear
Fiber gain: 5 grams in one small fruit

With about 30 percent more fiber than apples and way more than any sugary jam, pears offer up a sweet way to get your fill of hunger-crushing fiber. Try dining on whole-grain toast topped with almond butter and pear slices.

If you eat: 
Add: Rye bread
Fiber gain: Up to 5 grams per slice

It’s time to take a cue from the Scandinavians and make hearty rye bread the foundation of your sandwiches more often. A slice can have 25 to 50 percent more fiber than whole-wheat bread, so your midday meal will stick with you longer. Just make sure to avoid rye impostors —look for brands made with whole rye flour or whole rye meal as the first ingredient.

If you eat: Salads
Add: Canned or cooked lentils
Fiber gain: 4 grams in 1⁄4 cup

Make salads even more of a fiber powerhouse by sprinkling on some of the nutritional overachievers known as lentils. As an extra perk, lentils supply high amounts of folate
to help lessen the risk for birth defects.

If you eat: Soups
Add: Roasted chickpeas
Fiber gain: 6 grams in 1⁄4 cup

As one of the healthiest additions to the snack food aisle, crispy chickpeas are also a great way to add fiber-packed crunch to soups and salads when used as a finishing garnish. They’re a fiberrific standalone snack, too.

If you eat:
Burgers and meatloaf
Add: Ground flaxseed
Fiber gain: 4 grams in 2 tablespoons

Whether you’re rustling up meat or veggie burgers, mixing in ground flaxseed is an easy way to give them a fiber boost without affecting flavor or texture. Try replacing some of the bread crumbs in meatloaf recipes with flax, too. The high amount of soluble fiber makes it especially helpful in controlling blood sugar.

If you eat: Chicken
Add: Coconut flour
Fiber gain: 7 grams in 2 tablespoons

Made by grinding up defatted coconut solids, coconut flour contains off-the-chart fiber levels. Beyond baking uses, try dredging chicken tenders or fish in this paleo-worthy flour for a sweet crunch reminiscent of a beach vacation.

If you eat: Pizza
Add: Refried beans
Fiber gain: 2 grams in 1⁄4 cup

For your next pizza night, switch things up by swapping out the tomato sauce in favor of mashed pinto beans, so each slice brings more fiber to the table. Also use them as a creamy base for tacos and sandwiches.

If you eat: Stir-fry
Add: Parsnips
Fiber gain: 7 grams in 1 cup (sliced)

This ghostly version of bugs bunny’s favorite veggie infuses stir-frys, stews and soups with palate-pleasing nutty, slightly sweet flavor along with lofty fiber numbers. In fact, the tubers are endowed with about 60 percent more than what’s found in carrots.

If you eat: Cooked grains
Add: Sun-dried tomatoes
Fiber gain: 2 grams in 1⁄4 cup

When serving up quinoa or rice as a side dish, make the grains work harder for you by stirring in slices of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes for a taste of sunshine along with a little extra fiber. Of note, they also supply the potent antioxidant lycopene for added disease-fighting power.

If you eat: Pasta
Add: Soba noodles
Fiber gain: 5 grams in 2 ounces

Popular in Japan, quick-cooking, nutty-tasting soba noodles are made with gluten-free buckwheat flour, which gives them more fiber than typical spaghetti produced using wheat flour. Ideally, look for brands made with 100 percent buckwheat flour, and use them in both asian- and italian- style pasta recipes.

If you eat: Salad dressing
Add: Raspberries
Fiber gain: 2 grams in 1⁄4 cup

Instead of vinegar, use raspberries to give your vinaigrettes a lively sweet-tart flavor along with extra fiber and body-friendly anti- oxidants. Try blitzing together a handful of raspberries with olive oil, Dijon mustard, a garlic clove, salt and pepper.

If you eat:
Add: Avocado
Fiber gain: 12 grams per avocado

As a butter replacement, pureed avocado delivers deliciously fudgy brownies—and a payload of fiber in every bite means you’ll be satisfied with less. Also try whipping up the pinterest sensation known as “chocolate avocado pudding” as a better way to satisfy a sweet tooth.

If you eat: Cookies
Add: Hazelnut flour
Fiber gain: 3 grams in 1⁄4 cup

Go nuts for this flour made by finely grinding up hazelnuts, and you’ll add great flavor, extra fiber and a dose of heart-chummy fats to your next batch of cookies. Start by replacing about one-third of the flour called for in a baked good or pancake recipe with hazelnut flour such as that offered up by bob’s Red mill.

If you eat: Ice cream
Add: Cacao nibs
Fiber gain: 3.5 grams in 2 tablespoons

Made by smashing up the cacao beans that eventually get turned into chocolate bars, cacao nibs add crunch and pleasant bitterness to ice cream or a bowl of yogurt. Nutritionally, they upgrade your diet with fiber, antioxidants and magnesium. Look for unsweetened options, such as Navitas Naturals.

By Matthew Cadet, MS, RD

Image: iStock.com