Why Mom Needs Carbohydrates
Americans fall short of the recommended daily allowance of 20 to 53 grams of fiber. Most get only 10 to 20 grams. Aim for four to seven servings of fruits and vegetables, and a minimum of two servings of whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, or brown rice.
High-fiber breakfast foods include multigrain toast and cereals like steel-cut oatmeal, Kashi, Shredded Wheat, Wheaties, Grape Nuts, and Bran Flakes. Topping your toast or cereal with fresh strawberry slices, raspberries, or kiwi sweetens the deal and adds even more fiber and vitamins.
Try to eat whole fruits like oranges, cherries, grapefruit, and grapes instead of drinking juice. The fruit itself contains no added sugar and is a good source of fiber. Another trick to getting more fiber is leaving the skins on fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, sweet potatoes, yams, and potatoes.
High-fiber snacks include popcorn (hold the butter!), sunflower seeds, nuts, and dried apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and pears. Double check packages to make sure that any dried fruits you eat are dried in their skins.
Another benefit of fibrous carbohydrates is that they slow the absorption of glucose from the intestine into the bloodstream. Refined, sugary foods like cakes, cookies, soft pretzels, and doughnuts are quickly digested and broken down into glucose. This signals the pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that shuttles the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells for energy. The quick drop in blood glucose levels can leave you feeling hungry, tired, and sometimes even depressed.
"Instead of looking at carbohydrates as a whole, we should be looking at refined and unrefined carbohydrates," says Dr. Ricciotti. "Eating unrefined carbohydrates like whole grains and brown rice is like time-released glucose. You avoid those sharp spikes of glucose and then the quick lows that may drive hunger signals and cause us to overeat."
If you are trying to increase your fiber intake, start slowly. Too much fiber at once can cause painful gas and bloating. Eating small meals throughout the day and drinking lots of water can ease initial discomfort.