Did you know that we should be getting 20 – 35 grams of fiber a day and that the average American’s mean fiber intake is around 14 – 15 grams a day?? Check out this article on the importance of fiber from WebMD.
20 – 35 grams of fiber can be tough to achieve if one dines primarily on fast and convenient food! I think back to my days at Ohio State and my daily meals of Ramen Noodles and Taco Bell (typical “food” on a college budget), and it makes me shudder to think of it! Anyway, fast forward a couple of years (okay, 12) and things are much much different! I have now have this “little” thing called celiac disease so Ramen noodles and fast food are definitely off the table (which is one benefit of having celiac disease!!) but I am also older, and somewhat wiser. I try to learn something new everyday, and when I was going through my medical odyssey with Sam and Luke a couple of years ago, I learned quite a bit from their pediatrician and pediatric GI on how the human body works, especially the GI tract. Sam and Luke were on opposite ends of the spectrum though, one needed fiber and one needed Miralax. Here is a link to an article on the Basics of the Digestive System on KidsHealth.org. I have been going over it with Sam to help him better understand celiac disease and the importance of a gluten-free diet so he can absorb important nutrients.
Since this is a fiber post, I will stick with fiber (gotta resist the urge for a major ADD tangent!). I prefer that my family and I get as much fiber as possible from whole foods. You always hear how hard it is to get fiber on the gluten-free diet, but I really don’t think that is true. The problem, I think, is how we eat.
I can only speak for myself, but at the time I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I was relying a lot on all the “fortified” foods at the supermarket to get my “nutrients.” Even Wonder Bread has fiber and vitamins added, but that does not necessarily make Wonder Bread a wise food choice! Or all the sugary kid cereals that are fortified with vitamins and minerals, or are labeled that they are made with “Whole Grains” but contain so many other questionable ingredients.
I am much more aware today than I was even a year ago, heck, 3 months ago, when I saw Food, Inc., The Future of Food and King Corn for the first time! It angers me that unless you are consciously looking for the complete truth about what’s in our food (or where it comes from), you will have absolutely no idea. You certainly will not find the truth labeled on all the brightly colored packages at the supermarket.
I STILL cannot go into the grocery store without replaying the intro of Food Inc. in my head!!
Apparently, I still managed to sneak in a tangent… but seriously, if you have not seen either of these documentaries, I cannot encourage you enough to watch them. If for no other reason, it may speed up your acceptance of the gluten-free diet!
When I was newly diagnosed with celiac disease and didn’t know the first thing about gluten-free cooking (which really isn’t hard if you go naturally gluten-free), and was still craving the foods I grew up on; I relied a lot on gluten-free processed foods. Back then at least, GF processed foods were not only horrible in taste, but they weren’t fortified with vitamins and minerals the same way mainstream gluten-containing processed foods are. I am thankful now (5 years later), that my taste buds have changed for the better (so if you are newly diagnosed… I promise, it DOES get easier!), and we eat a diet that is primarily naturally gluten-free; whole fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. It is healthier and a LOT less expensive than buying gluten-free processed foods. It took me time though, to get to this place, in terms of taste and emotional acceptance.
So, from the point of my diagnosis to where I am today, I relied a lot on supplements, and I still take them as added “insurance.” A couple of months ago I found a new fiber supplement to try and we love it, even Sam and Luke, just by the fact that they don’t know I have put it in their food or beverage! It is called Vivagave, an Organic Blue Agave Inulin powder (read the health effects section on the Inulin link). Here is a bit of information on Vivagave from their website:
As a soluble fiber, this versatile Prebiotic can be used to aid in the growth of “good” intestinal bacteria.
Agave Inulin has a minimal impact on blood sugar, is not insulemic, will not raise triglycerides; making agave inulin a low glycemic product. Inulin also increases calcium and magnesium absorption.
A diet rich in soluble fiber, such as inulin, helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract and may help promote regularity
10 grams of fiber in 1 tablespoon!
I found Vivagave at my local Whole Foods. It was not in the vitamin/supplement section of the store, but in the grocery section near the agave nectar. A 7-ounce package is $8.99, a really good price compared to other fiber supplements and 7-oz. goes a long way! Mike and I each take a tablespoon a day, and I put one teaspoon’s worth in Sam and Luke’s milk, juice, yogurt or something else that I can blend it in, like the chocolate “pudding” below or mashed potatoes, etc. Just for reference, here is a good article titled High-Fiber Foods for Gluten-Free Diets. On the first page is a guideline for how much fiber children need. There are also some great suggestions for foods with high-fiber content.
Vivagave is a superfine white powder and it dissolves well without giving you that “texture” common in some fiber supplements:
I like to add a tablespoon to my Chobani Greek Yogurt:
This morning, I put some in Luke’s chocolate pudding (wait till you see what this “pudding” is made of! I will post that next):
The powder totally disappears!
The “proof is in the pudding!”
Vivagave also comes in Vanilla and Chocolate, but we haven’t tried those yet.
There are also other ways of adding fiber into your diet. I have been experimenting a lot lately with replacing eggs in my baked goods with flax gel for added fiber and less cholesterol. I have also been putting beans in my baked goods, like black beans in brownies or the chocolate chips cookies with garbanzo beans/chickpeas recipe I posted back in October. Beans “hide” very well in baked goods!!
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