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Bulk Me Up | Pamdemonium
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Bulk Me Up

March 5, 2010

Eat this stuff.

Eat a high-fiber diet, the doctor says. He hands me a two-page photocopy of fiber-rich foods. Simple, clear instructions.

Whole-grain bread is no problem. I like fruit. I like dried fruit. I honestly like most vegetables. I don’t have the legume aversion that afflicts some friends who cite a texture issue. Okra is my texture issue; cooked vegetables should not be fuzzy and slimy at the same time. Eating lots of fiber should be cake, if it is carrot cake. Or toast, if whole grains are on the table.

Getting 25 to 40 grams of fiber a day by eating actual food and not using supplements or living on boxes of FiberOne bars is not all that easy. It takes research and planning. Conveniently, I do both well and obsessively.  Legumes are loaded, but all beans are not created equal. Kidney beans, brown beans, lima beans, white beans and pinto beans average 8.6 grams per ½-cup, according to my handy list. My handy list does not include black beans, which I eat most often, but I am optimistic. Lentils, on the other hand, come in at 3.7 grams per ½-cup, which is still respectable.

Orange vegetables are solid if a bit inconsistent: cooked winter squash (6.5 g), raw carrots (1.8 g), in ½-cup portions. Oddly, yams have nearly twice as much fiber sweet potatoes, 3.9 g versus 2.1 g. I am still not sure I know the difference, but I like both of them.

Spinach: A Fiber Star

Cooked spinach is a rock star: 6.5 g. Broccoli, 3.5 g. Dried figs, if I could afford them when I find them, provide – 3.9 grams for one medium fruit.

So many numbers, so little time.

I am not an unhealthy eater but this fiber business demands dedication. Much like drinking enough water throughout the day, also a good idea when bulking up, it needs to become habit. To improve adherence, as they say in the medical biz these days, I try to simplify and script my diet.

Take a look at how I get to 36.6 grams:


4 g            ½-cup quick oats

2 g            ¼-cup raisins


4 g            1 apple or pear

3g            1 banana


(in salads, as sides, components in soup, stir fries or whatever)

8.6 g         ½-cup beans

4 g            ½-cup dark green veggies (average)

3 g            ½-cup orange veggies (average)


4 g            1 slice hearty whole-grain bread

4 g            24 almonds

Calorie-wise, few of these foods do much damage, leaving plenty of room for lean meats, dairy, the ever-expanding list of grains, many of which add to the fibrous bottom line, and indulgences. Does this happen every day? No. Does much of it happen most days? Yes. A stocked pantry, a freezer, measuring cups and discipline help, especially with the nuts and dried fruit. I can eat that stuff for days.

The list my doctor provided comes from “Plant Fiber in Foods,” by Dr. James Anderson and published by the HCF Diabetes Research Foundation, Inc.

A few words of warning: Don’t go from zero to 40 in 10 seconds, 10 hours or even 10 days. Build up gradually. And spread fiber intake throughout the day. You and those close to you, in a physical sense, will be much happier. When bulking up goes bad, it’s bad.



Karen Price March 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I must get puh-lenty of fiber because I’m a vegetable, fruit and legume fan big-time, and I’ve never eaten just half a cup of anything in my life. Half a cup is a taster portion!

pamelacoyle March 6, 2010 at 2:14 pm

If I am going to cook it, I usually eat a cup. Others may prefer baby Steps. Thanks for subscribing. I can now say I have international readership!

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