Bulking Up

Here’s a word I hear every day that was never once spoken aloud during my growing up years.  Fiber.  Today dietary fiber is considered one of the most important aspects of health maintenance and fiber discussions are everywhere.  

The earliest mentions I can recall of better living through fiber had to do with bodily functions, and while older people tend to discuss their bodies as a form of social interaction and even recreation, I’m still not all that comfortable with such in-depth knowledge of other people’s habits.

All of us were aware that Gramma K’s second husband suffered from irregularity.  She announced it frequently, dismayed that he wouldn’t follow her advice, which was “You need more bulk.”  Bulk was the euphemism for all we knew of fiber in food, and bulky foods looked unappetizing compared to the delicious fiber-free meals we generally had on our table.  You couldn’t blame Gramma’s husband for resisting.

Then fiber began to be marketed as a way to lose weight and everyone noticed.  Hello fiber.  Goodbye fat.  In case you missed it, evidently the world runs best on fiber.  They’ve been trying to teach us this for years, but when they began preaching about how certain kinds of fiber sort of whoosh the fat right out of our bodies, America started listening.

I saw a show on PBS called “Brenda Watson’s Fiber 35”  about how you can rock your world by eating that many grams of fiber a day.  It seems a bit ambitious for me.  I’m lucky to get 20 grams a day and right now it looks like I’d have to quit work in order to achieve 35.  But it is getting easier.

I’m conducting my own very skewed, very personal research.  In case you’re wondering how this revolution tastes, I’m only eating fiber-added foods that taste good.  The nutrition/snack bar selection is huge, but I’ve found only one brand so far that tastes like real food.  I love these new sugar-free, low-calorie fudgsicles with fiber added.  There’s a creamy yogurt with several grams of fiber and, of course, a mountain of bread loaves.   I’m trying them all.  (A bread lover doesn’t have any trouble eating bread.)  So far the ones with “double fiber added” are still best used for toast.  

One habit I’ve developed is label-reading.  I know that when I bring home a bag of Cheetos, it’s not going to bulk me up in the good way.  I still eat Cheetos, but now I’m free to enjoy them with absolutely no expectations.

Ó  By Anita Garner

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