Following are a series of suggestions that providers can use to develop an ISP around understanding fiber—which is an important nutrient found in food. Understanding that instruction will vary between individuals and provider organizations, our tips are a general guide from which to make your own unique adaptations.
The tasks noted below should be broken up over time into multiple sessions that occur close together, and with consistent review and repetition for reinforcement.
The individual understands what fiber is, which foods are high in fiber, and how to include fiber in their daily diet.
1. Health care experts recommend that we eat at least 25 grams of fiber each day because this nutrient has multiple health benefits.
2. Fiber delivers important nutrients to fuel your body.
3. Fiber fills you up, so you’re less likely to snack on empty-calorie foods.
4. Fiber acts like a Brillo pad, cleaning out your digestive system.
5. Fiber delivers cancer and heart disease prevention benefits.
• Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grain & 100% whole wheat foods. For those following a mechanical soft diet, there are ways to incorporate all-important fiber into your day-to-day. See My25’s Food Substitutions For Mechanical Soft Diets.
• For packaged foods, you can understand the fiber content in each serving by reading the nutrition facts label.
Suggested Props To Accomplish The Goal
(You can use photos for some of the instruction, but real food is important for hands-on learning. It is beneficial to use foods that are familiar to the individual and realistic from the standpoint of access on a daily basis, going forward.)
• Vegetables & fruits; some with peel/skin on and some with peel/skin off and some whole and some diced
• Whole wheat pasta and white enriched pasta
• Whole wheat bread and white bread
• Whole wheat tortillas and white flour tortillas
• Beans—such as black, pinto and kidney (found in cans)
• Slice of pizza, sandwich, cup of soup, small side salad
• Cereal with more than 2 grams of fiber per serving and cereal with less than 2 grams of fiber per serving
• Snacks high in fiber, such as: fruits, vegetables, whole wheat crackers, nuts, pumpkin seeds, high-fiber cookies, and popcorn. Empty-calorie snacks that are low in fiber, such as: candy bars, low-fiber cookies and potato chips.
For help in pulling together your props, use these My25 resources:
Suggested Tasks To Accomplish The Goal
• Watch the My25 video about fiber.
• Talk about fiber as a very important ingredient (nutrient) found in many different foods. Use props (fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, etc.) for emphasis as you explain what fiber is.
Ask the individual to explain what fiber is. Answer: A very important ingredient (nutrient) found in many different foods.
• Talk about how fiber is very important to health, which means that we should each be eating a lot of foods high in fiber every single day. A broader explanation would include discussion about how the foods we eat have a lot to do with how good we feel, how well we look, and how long we live.
Ask the individual why he/she needs to eat a lot of foods high in fiber every single day. Answer: Fiber is important to my health.
• Talk about the specific health benefits of fiber, including:
1. Fiber helps fuel your body, so you have energy to do things each day (you can personalize this by highlighting routine activities the individual engages in).
2. Fiber fills you up, so you’re less likely to snack on foods that aren’t so healthy.
3. Fiber acts like a scrubbie, cleaning out your digestive system—which helps your body to work smoothly and in a healthy way. You can use a Brillo pad or kitchen scrubbie for visual emphasis, but make this decision based on the individual and consideration for their ability to transfer the comparison.
4. Fiber helps to prevent cancer and heart disease that can be very serious illnesses.
Ask the individual to name one or more specific health benefits of fiber. Answers are noted in the numbered points immediately above.
• Talk about foods where you find healthy fiber. Use hands-on examples when you can. Access, and use, our overview on How To Fiberize—meaning how to easily add high-fiber ingredients to everyday meals.
1. Fruits and vegetables.
Talk about how fiber is often found in the peel of fruits and vegetables, so that it’s healthy to eat the peel of an apple, as an example. The skin of red-skin potatoes (the skin can be mashed right in with the potatoes when making mashed potatoes). The peel of a carrot.
Ask the individual where you find a lot of fiber in fruits and vegetables. Answer: The skin or peel.
Ask the individual to choose the vegetables with more fiber when you display a carrot without peel and a carrot with peel, an apple with peel and an apple without peel.
Talk about creative ways to add vegetables to meals, such as an added topping on pizza; diced broccoli added to soup and/or salad; tomatoes, lettuce and carrots as added ingredients to a sandwich; etc. You will reinforce this important point if you model it with hands-on examples (e.g. add lettuce, diced carrots and tomato slices to a sandwich).
You can expand on this topic by talking about ways to make vegetables taste good, so the likes of broccoli, carrots and peas are more appealing. Watch My25’s video How to Make Vegetables Taste Good and access our Bump-Up-Veggie-Flavor Chart that was created by My25’s chef.
Talk about ways to add beans to meals, such as an added topping on pizza, a half cup added to soup and/or salad, as an added ingredient to a sandwich, etc. You will reinforce this important point if you can model it with hands-on examples (e.g. put some black beans on top of a slice of pizza).
Ask the individual if beans have a lot of fiber. Answer: Yes.
Ask the individual to name a few foods where they can add beans to increase the amount of fiber in their meal.
3. 100% whole wheat and whole grain foods.
Talk about whole wheat and whole grains. Explain that whole wheat and whole grains are grown on farms and used to make bread and pasta products, including: crackers, cereal, tortillas, wraps, pizza crust, and more.
Talk about how bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, tortillas, wraps and pizza crust can be made with whole wheat and whole grains—which means there is a lot of fiber—or these same foods can be made without whole grains and whole wheat—which means there isn’t a lot of fiber.
Point out that the foods with more fiber (with whole grains and whole wheat) tend to be slightly darker in color. Use examples such as white bread vs. whole wheat bread; enriched, white pasta vs. whole wheat pasta; white, flour tortillas vs. whole wheat tortillas.
Ask the individual to point out the foods that are higher in fiber, and the reason behind their selection, when you display:
White bread next to whole wheat bread (Answer: whole wheat bread; darker in color)
White, enriched pasta next to whole wheat pasta (Answer: whole wheat pasta; darker in color)
White, flour tortilla next to whole wheat tortilla (Answer: whole wheat tortilla; darker in color)
• Talk about how fiber is measured in what is called grams like our personal body weight is measured in pounds. Explain that health care experts advise that we should each be aiming to eat at least 25 grams of fiber each day. (We advise using breakfast cereals to highlight this point, while also emphasizing that it is a good idea to start getting your daily 25 grams of fiber at breakfast.)
Talk about how you can find the number of grams in each serving of food by looking at the package label. (You can use My25’s how to read a nutrition facts label article and video as an additional aid and expanded topic.)
Point out on two different cereal boxes how the fiber is listed on the nutrition facts label. One box of cereal should have 2 or fewer grams of fiber per serving and one box should have more than 2 grams of fiber per serving. Talk about choosing the cereal with more than 2 grams of fiber as a healthier option.
Ask the individual to choose—and explain why—which cereal has more fiber and is a healthier option when you display two boxes of cereal (one with 2 or fewer grams of fiber per serving and one with more than 2 grams of fiber per serving).
• Talk about choosing snacks to eat between meals that are high in fiber. (We suggest using hands-on examples.)
Point out that fruits and vegetables are healthy snacks because they are high in fiber.
Point out that snacks with whole grains and 100% whole wheat are healthy snacks because they are high in fiber.
Show samples of healthy snacks that are high in fiber.
Show samples of snacks that are not high in fiber and explain that these are not as healthy because there is not much fiber included.
Point out that, like breakfast cereals, you can find out how much fiber is in snack foods by reading the nutrition facts label. Like cereal, you’re aiming for more than 2 grams of fiber per serving for your snacks.
Ask the individual to choose the healthier snack—and explain why—when you display (you should have already talked about how each of the examples below is either healthy or unhealthy):
Low-fiber cookies (Oreos) next to high-fiber cookies (oatmeal raisin) (Answer: oatmeal raisin; more fiber)
Potato chips next to popcorn (Answer: popcorn; more fiber)
Candy bar next to an apple (Answer: apple; more fiber)