You may have noticed over the past few years that a popular cereal brand was taking over almost every corner of your grocery store. Yes, Fiber One is not just for breakfast anymore. You can have your Fiber One yogurt with lunch, Fiber One cottage cheese for a snack, and a Fiber One blueberry muffin with dinner. General Mills, the maker of Fiber One products, seems intent on adding fiber to almost everything we eat. The amount of fiber in one serving of these products is sometimes more than many of us eat in a whole day! Are our diets so devoid of fiber that a company can profit from adding it to dairy products of all things? It sure looks that way.
The amount of fiber you should eat each day should be based on how many calories you need to maintain a healthy weight. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. The average Americans' daily fiber intake is between 12 and 18 grams for the whole day. If most of us ate only 1,000 calories per day this would be acceptable. In reality, many of us eat twice that amount, which means we should be consuming closer to 25 grams of fiber daily.
Most fiber is present in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Because we are not eating as much of those foods, Fiber One products give us a chance to find fiber in places we had never previously thought possible. Use these products as a last resort because if you just ate more of the "real," unprocessed foods to begin with, your fiber needs would be met without much struggle. If you are trying to lose weight, incorporate this one daily habit: Make it your goal to have eaten 30 grams of fiber by the end of each day. The high amount of fiber will fill you up faster and cause you to eat less overall portions. Read labels and look up the fiber content of the fruits and vegetables you eat. One word of caution, do not go from an average of 5 grams of daily fiber to 30 grams in one day. You must slowly introduce fiber to your system so gradually increase your fiber intake over a few weeks.
Michael Murphy is a registered dietitian living in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at (480) 415-8803 or visit www.nutritiontoyou.com.