According to the American Heart Association, our bodies need lots of fiber in order to be healthy and function properly. Fiber is that part of plants comprised of materials that cannot be broken down by enzymes and digested.
Fiber helps to slow our digestive system down, allowing the body to break down the sugars in food (which is needed to produce energy among other things), at a rate that avoids wild swings in sugar and insulin levels in the blood. This can prevent the inconvenient hunger pangs that can lead to overeating.
Fiber also binds with the material in our intestines, softening it to aid in waste elimination and promoting a healthier colon.
The recommended daily fiber intake can vary with age and gender, but approximately 14 grams per 1,000 calories of consumption is the average recommended amount for a healthier body.
Ideally, we should get some fiber at every meal, starting with breakfast. Bran cereals, especially those with 6 grams or more fiber per serving, are excellent choices as long as we watch the amount of sugar they contain.
For lunch, ditch the hamburger and fries, and opt instead for a tasty, fiber-rich meal of fresh vegetables (like celery sticks with black bean dip), a handful of low-salt, dry-roasted nuts (like almonds or peanuts), and apples or a serving of berries. They are not only tasty and nutritious, but are loaded with essential fiber. That old standby, peanut butter, is also a good lunchtime choice. Low-fat, crunchy peanut butter (with reduced sugar, so forget the jelly) on whole wheat bread is filling and nutritious.
A good evening meal that is high in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals is wild or brown rice with fish or chicken (with the skin removed), with lentils or beans as a vegetable. Skip the rich sauces, and try a light clam or peanut sauce for flavor.
If you simply must have bread, try a whole grain. Avoid the so-called "enriched" breads, as most of the real nutrients have been removed by the production process. Complete your supper with a fresh salad of celery or other fiber-rich vegetables, along with a vinegar dressing.
Three light meals, starting with a healthy breakfast, supplemented with fresh fruit or vegetable snacks at mid-morning and mid-afternoon can help you control those messy cravings and maintain a healthy weight. It will also help you get the required amount of fiber into your system.
Avoid those late-night snacks to prevent gastric upsets like acid reflux, and don't eat less than three hours before lying down for a nap.
These tasty foods and others like them, along with regular exercise, can help keep you regular, control the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, and should eliminate the problem of the munchies.
Getting enough fiber in your diet doesn't have to be a chore, nor does it require eating rough, tasteless food. Getting plenty of vegetables, fruits and nuts in your diet provides both good taste, and it's good for you.