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Small Bites

February 2007, Issue 1

Looking to Improve Your Nutrition Habits? Go “F” Yourself!

Nutrition has its own “f” word. One that, to many people, causes confusion, panic,
and even looks of disgust. Oh yes, we’re talking fiber!

Whether you are aiming to con- You might wonder how a feeling of satiety is a posi-
trol your waist size, cholesterol tive characteristic. Well, let’s say you want to trim a
levels, or risk of diabetes, heart few pounds. Wouldn’t it be easier to reduce your
disease, and cancer, dietary fi- calories if you felt satisfied throughout the day? In
ber is a crucial factor to con- fact, it would be in your benefit to know that three
sider. Unfortunately, the aver- components whelp make you feel full – fat, pro-
age adult in the United States tein, and fiber.
consumes less than half of the
daily recommendation (20 grams per 1,000 calo- Take almonds, which contain a good amount of those
ries). three things. If you’re craving a little snack an hour
and a half before lunch, popping ten almonds proves
Before I tell you the wonders of fiber, let’s get to satisfying. Imagine eating just 8 or 10 almond-
know it a little better. shaped pretzels, which lack protein, fat, and fiber.
You would need approximately three times that
There are two different types of fiber. Insoluble fi- amount to even begin to feel any sort of fullness!
ber, much like an intestinal broom, keeps the Similarly, you could scarf down two entire heads of
yucky stuff moving through your digestive sys- iceberg lettuce (which also is void of these three nu-
tem, preventing it from harboring in your colon. trients) and still feel famished.
Wheat bran is 100% insoluble fiber.
So what foods contain fiber? You’ll find a small
Soluble fiber, meanwhile, plays two key functions. chart further down, but as a general rule, fiber (in
It provides a sensation of satiety (the feeling of be- balanced proportions of insoluble and soluble) is
ing full) and helps lower cholesterol by binding it found in fruits, vegetables, seeds, and legumes.
(along with waste products) into a chemical bundle Keep in mind that animal products have abso-
in the intestine. Oat bran is 100% soluble fiber. lutely no fiber.

I can guarantee you there is no need to take Meta- You want to be getting 3 – 4 grams of fiber per
mucil or fiber tablets to meet your recommended slice; anything less and your bread is not 100%
daily totals. Rather, by having fiber throughout whole grain.
your day, you will cover your bases. Consider the
following – a sandwich made with whole wheat If you are thinking of upping your fiber intake,
bread provides 6 grams of fiber from the bread make sure to do so slowly, and be sure to drink
alone. White bread, meanwhile, will give you a plenty of water to allow your body to adjust prop-
“grand” total of 1 gram of fiber… for both slices! erly. If you currently consume 12g of fiber a day, do
not wake up to a big bowl of bran cereal tomorrow
Some other ways to sneak extra fiber into your day? morning (which packs as much as 8 or 9g of fiber in
Add raisins and flaxseed to your breakfast cereal, a measly ½ cup serving!), unless feeling like you
toss in some flaxseed or wheat bran into your swallowed a balloon sounds fun to you.
milkshakes and smoothies (they will not affect the
taste), nosh on edamame, nuts, and seeds between Some health experts warn about the dangers of too
meals, add fresh fruit to your yogurt, load a vari- much fiber interfering with the absorption of certain
ety of veggies to your sandwiches and wraps, give nutrients (mainly calcium, magnesium, phosphorus,
brown rice and whole wheat pasta a try… the list iron, and vitamins A, D, E, and K). Unless you are
is endless. consuming extremely high amount of fiber (ie: 3
cups of bran cereal a day), this should not be an im-
mediate worry. Think about it – if you are currently
consuming 2,000 calories a day, you can get up to 50
pasta with grams of fiber without interfering with vitamin and
a whole mineral absorption. The most powerful side effects
wheat vari- emerge from increasing fiber intake too quickly
ety for ex- (these include abdominal discomfort, gas, and diar-
tra fiber, rhea).
protein, vi-
tamins and


This is one area of nutrition where being a smart
• ¼ cup almonds 4 grams
shopper – and knowing how to read labels – is a big
• 1 med apple 4 grams
plus. Remember, companies want you to buy their
products, so they will slap anything on a label to • 1 med banana 3 grams
make it sound healthy. A bread is not 100% whole • ½ cup cooked black beans 10 grams
wheat unless the first ingredient is “whole wheat • ¾ cup steamed broccoli 7 grams
flour”. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that • ½ cup canned chickpeas 6 grams
multi-grain equals whole wheat. Multi-grain just • 1 med potato/sweet potato 5 grams
means they mixed together a whole bunch of grains • ½ cup raisins 3 grams
(unfortunately, these have often been refined). • ½ cup cooked spinach 7 grams
• 1 slice whole wheat toast 3 grams
Another way to test your bread’s worthiness is by
taking a look at the amount of fiber per slice.

By incorporating some of the above foods in one Makes approximately 45 cookies
day, you can easily meet your fiber requirements!
• 1 cup butter (I recommend Earth Balance Natural
Breakfast: “Butter” Sticks)
1 slice whole wheat toast • ¼ cup natural peanut butter
2 eggs • 2 eggs
1 banana • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
Fiber in Meal: 6 grams • 1 tsp. baking soda
• ¼ cups sugar or honey
AM Snack: • ½ tsp. salt
1 medium apple • 2 cups rolled oats
1 cup yogurt • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used grain-sweetened
Fiber in Meal: 4 grams semi-sweet chips from Whole Foods – delicious!)
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
Lunch (Stirfry):
3 oz. lean protein
3/4 cup broccoli
1/2 cup chickpeas
2 tsp. olive oil
spices (to taste)
Fiber in Meal:13 grams

PM Snack:
Trail mix (½ cup raisins, ¼ cup almonds)
Fiber in Meal: 7 grams Mix the first 4 ingredients to form (firm) dough.
Add next 6 ingredients and mix well. Place 12 small
Dinner: flattened balls on lightly greased tray. Bake for 10
4 - 6 oz. grilled lean protein minutes at 375 F.
½ cup sautéed spinach
1 medium sweet potato FAD DIET OF THE MONTH
Fiber in Meal: 12 grams The Atkins Diet
Day’s Fiber Total: 42 grams
I couldn’t think of a more appropriate diet than Mr.
Atkins’ for our premiere fiber issue.
Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies THE IDEA: Carbs are bad because they make
you fat. Lower your carbohydrate intake and watch
I found this recipe online but modified it a bit. The the pounds melt away. Consume unlimited amounts
whole wheat flour and oats add plenty of dietary of protein and fat to stay slim.
fiber (and the walnuts add heart-healthy fats!). Al-
though these are not low-calorie, they are mini- THE REALITY: Let’s get something very clear.
mally processed and much healthier than standard No particular food, or type of food, makes you
chocolate chip cookies. gain weight. Total calories make you gain weight.

Go back and read those two sentences a few more would be missing out on a lot of vital nutrients,
times before you continue. since ice cream has no fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E,
vitamin K, vitamin A, etc.
Some of you may be wondering, “So you’re telling
me ice-cream isn’t fattening but tomatoes can be?” However, if you were to consume lower-calorie
Not exactly. Let me try to explain this concept bet- foods throughout the day, you can meet your 1800-
ter. calorie goal by eating the equivalent of 30 cups of
food each day (and getting all the vital nutrients you
It would take you 15 ½ cups of tomatoes to eat need!)
500 calories, whereas that same caloric amount
can be found in ¾ cup of chocolate Haagen Dazs I know. It’s very tempting to think, “All I have to do
ice cream (that’s less than half the standard pint to lose weight is cut out carbs/fat/sugar/protein/
you buy at the supermarket!). dairy/salt.” Deprivation diets do NOT work. We
all know this, yet we continue to think that “this time
Remember, the only way to lose weight is by re- we’ll be disciplined enough.” Sure, you’ll stay away
ducing your calories and upping your caloric out- from the foods you are “supposed to” for a week or
put (I like to call it “physical activity”…. the word two, but when you finally “give in”, you’ll lose con-
“exercise” has too many negative connotations at- trol, binge, feel guilty and disappointed in yourself,
tached to it). Sounds dull, huh? All those hundreds and start another deprivation cycle.
of diet books you see in any given bookstore are giv-
ing that same message but masking it with buzz Our bodies need fat, protein, AND carbohydrate.
words and celebrity endorsements. It doesn’t help that the Atkins diet fails to differ-
entiate between different types of carbohydrates.
Refined grains (such as enriched white flour) do not
Beef’s high satu- provide much nutritional value, so I certainly
rated fat and lack wouldn’t recommend you consume large quantities
of fiber make it an of them.
occasional treat,
not a staple like However, healthy carbohydrates, such as whole
the Atkins Diet grains, are a great addition to our daily diets. Flours
wants you to be- made out of whole grains provide more fiber, pro-
lieve. tein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than
refined flours. Talk about a perfect food!

Let’s also not forget that carbohydrates doesn’t just

encompass bread and rice. Fruits are 100% carbo-
Back to our example. Let’s say that after getting hydrate, and vegetables are about 90% carbohydrate
your lab results and meeting with a registered dieti- (unlike fruits, vegetables have minor amounts of fat
tian, it is decided that if, starting today, you ate 1800 and protein). By banishing “carbs”, you are miss-
calories a day you will be 10 pounds thinner by June ing out on vital antioxidants, vitamins, and min-
1. You could, in theory, eat 1800 calories of ice erals only fruits and vegetables can provide.
cream every day and lose weight. The only prob- Yes, I know that as you move through the “phases”
lem is that your total daily caloric intake would con- of Atkins you can add certain vegetables, but intake
sist of only 3 cups of food (3 cups of ice cream con- is limited and not encouraged.
tain approximately 1800 calories). Additionally, you
I hope you are starting to see how low-carb diets In conclusion, the Atkins Diet re-
completely deprive you of fiber and several nutrients
found exclusively in plants. ceives a big:
Some of you might be thinking, “Hmmm… but I’ve
seen this work in real life. My friend/boyfriend/
girlfriend/boss/trainer lost a good deal of weight
while on Atkins!” Countless studies have shown
that people on low-carb diets simply end up con-
suming less calories than they did before going on
the diet, hence the weight loss. Remember, if you
lower your caloric intake, you will lose weight, no
matter what you eat.

Another explanation behind the weight loss? All

carbohydrates have sodium, which retains fluid in
our bodies. Although sodium is another significant
health issue (we are consuming way too much of it),
the problematic sodium is found in overly processed Small Bites is a monthly nutrition
foods, not natural and unprocessed foods like brown newsletter chock full of accessible in-
rice and whole grains. formation, without sponsors to please,
advertisers to promote, and hidden
Hence, by cutting grains from you diet, you take agendas.
in less sodium, and rapidly lose water weigh,
This newsletter is a work in progress;
hence the “instant results’ after first starting a
low-carb diet. The second you go back to eating
please share your thoughts, opinions,
grains though, the water weight will return. questions, and feedback so I can pro-
vide you with an excellent publication
Lastly, one particularly disturbing aspect of the month after month.
Atkins Diet is its failure to teach portion sizes. In
fact, one of the selling points is the idea of “unlim-
ited” fat and protein. Please send all e-mail correspondence
In my opinion, some good actually did emerge from
the recent Atkins Diet revival, in that it raised peo-
ple’s awareness of refined carbohydrates. However, Thank you and see you next month!
this diet completely misses the mark in touting
“carbs” as the enemy, regardless of their makeup.
I would certainly endorse a low refined-carb diet, but Sincerely,
it is a shame – not to mention unhealthy – to miss -Andy Bellatti-
out on the goodness and great taste of whole grains.

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