- Add a small salad to your dinner.
- Swap out your white rice for brown.
- Toss kidney beans or chickpeas into your soup.
- Switch to cereal with at least five grams of fiber per serving, or go 50-50 with your usual cereal and a higher-octane variety.
- Eat high-fiber fruit like raspberries with light whipped cream for dessert. But before you start eating kidney beans by the truckload, remember that most experts recommend upping your fiber intake gradually. A sudden increase can leave you bloated and gassy—side effects sure to sabotage your efforts to look good in a miniskirt. "If you're getting about 10 grams a day and suddenly shoot up to 25, you're going to experience a little discomfort," says Carolyn Williams, a nurse practitioner at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. "You're just not used to that bulkiness."
A better strategy: Start small and build. And drink plenty of H2O—without it, you may find yourself in even more of a bind (pun intended). Don't go overboard, either. Fiber's benefits start to wane once you hit 50 grams per day. "It doesn't happen often," Greaves says, "but you can max out. Too much fiber can compromise the absorption of vitamins and minerals."
If you're not getting enough fiber through food alone, supplements can make up the difference. "Fiber got a bad rap in the '70s because there were all these horrible concoctions—twigs and branches and wheat germ," Williams says. "Now we can get it without even tasting it. Fiber from supplements makes people full, and it's very healthy for you." Sounds better than tree bark, doesn't it?
Metamucil doesn't make your mouth water? Here are tastier ways to get fast fiber. All-natural
1 medium avocado, 13.5 grams
1 cup of edamame, 8 grams
1 cup of raspberries, 8 grams
1 mini bag popcorn, 4 grams
1/2 grapefruit, 2 grams
Grab and go
1 Gnu Foods Banana-Walnut Flavor & Fiber bar, 12 grams
1 Thomas's Light Multi Grain English muffin, 8 grams
5 Reese's sugar-free mini peanut butter cups, 6 grams
1 Hostess Coffee Cakes 100-Calorie pack, 5 grams
1 Lean Pocket (Whole Grain Ham & Cheddar), 3 grams
A roughed-up diet reduces more than just your muffin top. It may also cut your risk for:
Diabetes Eat tons of cereal fiber and whole grains and you'll lower your odds for type 2, reports a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Breast and colon cancer In one study, a fiber-rich diet heavy on whole grain breads and cereals cut odds of breast cancer. Other studies show that eating more fibrous foods, especially beans, may ward off colon cancer.
Heart disease A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people on a high-fiber diet had lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), often regarded as a risk factor for heart disease.