What meals and snacks should you be eating when thinking about a high fibre, low sugar diet? Are you stuck for ideas? With the latest government guidelines suggesting we should be aiming to eat 30g of fibre per day and less than 5% of our total energy as sugar, then how do we do this? In this post, we take a look at what a healthy high fibre, low sugar diet looks like and offer suggestions on how to incorporate them into your healthy diet. Your meals should comprise of plenty of vegetables / salad / fruit and a portion of starchy carbohydrate and lean protein with each meal. The new ‘Eat Well Plate’ guides us to what we should be eating and in what quantities.
This information is for the general population, but may not be suitable for everyone and may need to be tailored to your own needs if you require a specific therapeutic diet (for example diabetes, coeliac disease, metabolic disorders, bowel problems). If you require further advice contact a dietitian.
When increasing the fibre content of your diet, do it slowly a little each day and remember to ensure you are drinking enough fluid. This will help prevent your from getting tummy problems and let your gut get used to the extra fibre.
This is not an exclusive list and I am sure you be able to think of other higher fibre, low sugar foods and meals! Here are my meal ideas and top tips for a healthy diet and increasing your fibre.
Breakfast; High fibre low sugar ideas
Choose breakfast foods that set you up for a good day, for example:
- High fibre, low sugar cereals with milk or milk alternative (ensure added calcium)
- Porridge or overnight oats
- Whole grain toast with margarine / butter or peanut butter and chopped bananas on top
- Eggs are a good high protein start to the day – boiled, poached or scrambled with 1-2 slices of high fibre toast
- A weekend brunch could include grilled bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and a slice of wholemeal toast
- Pancakes made with wholemeal flour, chopped fruit or berries and plain yoghurt
- Try and get some fruit and veg in with breakfast
- Add some chopped fruit or berries on the top of cereal or porridge
- Include lots of mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach with a cooked breakfast
- A sprinkle of flaxseed/linseed or some chopped nuts to increase the fibre and protein
- Sandwich (with high fibre bread/roll/wrap/pitta) with a protein filing (meat, fish, cheese) or toastie
- Salad: green salad, bean salad – sprinkle some seeds or chopped nuts on top, serve with high fibre crackers
- Home made vegetable soup with high fibre bread / toast with a little spread of marg / butter
- Baked beans on wholemeal / seeded bread
- Jacket potato with beans / coleslaw / cheese and salad
- Add a side salad or extra salad into a sandwich, tomatoes or peppers into toasted sandwiches
- Add barley or flaxseed to soups to increase the fibre
- Salad doesn’t have to be lettuce and tomatoes, be inventive – grated carrot and beetroot, chopped peppers and tinned sweetcorn, avocado and rocket…
Main meal: High fibre low sugar ideas
- Meat / prawn / soya stir fry with brown rice or noodles. Use ginger, garlic, chillies and soy sauce to flavour
- Curry with plenty of vegetables and brown / basmati rice
- Stew or casserol with jacket potato or brown rice
- Brown Pasta with vegetable pasta sauce plus meat / fish / prawns / pulses and plenty of vegetables
- Spaghetti bolognase (use soya mince or add kidney beans to mince)
- Lean meat or fish with potatoes / brown rice and veggies / salad
- Ensure plenty of vegetables with your main meals, whether it be on the plate with the meat and potatoes or within the meal – a stir fry, stew, pasta or a curry
- Have a slightly smaller portion of your main meal and add an extra portion of vegetables on your plate
- Try adding some beans or lentils into your dishes – tinned beans (eg kidney, butter, borlotti) to mince or stews. As well as bulking out the meat it will increase the fibre content
- Choose high fibre options with your meals – brown rice, brown pasta, bulgur wheat, keep the skins on potatoes
- For vegetarian options: soya mince with lots of added veggies, lentil or bean stews
- If you are not vegetarian then try having 1 or 2 meat free days per week and replace meat with beans and pulses e.g. bean casserole, lentil curry
- Check the packet for a standard portion of starchy carbohydrate foods (rice, pasta) so not to over eat
- Use lots of garlic, herbs and spices in your cooking so you don’t have to add salt for flavour.
- Fresh fruit either whole or chopped into a salad, try adding a spoon or two of natural or Greek yoghurt
- Greek or natural yoghurt with berries and a sprinkle of nuts, seeds or flaxseed
- Stewed apple, pear or plums
- Baked apples with dried fruit in the middle and a sprinkle of cinnamon or ginger
- Baked or grilled ripe bananas with creme fraiche.
- You don’t have to just use fresh fruit, tinned fruit in its own juices or frozen fruit (berries) are just as good and don’t go off quickly like fresh fruit!
- In summer, try chopping banana’s in half, sticking in lolly pop sticks and freezing to make lolly pops, freeze quarters of oranges to suck in hot weather or freeze slices of fruit and then whizz up in the food processor to make a sorbet.
- A small handful of nuts or seeds
- Hummus or a veg dip with vegetable sticks, chopped raw mushrooms or high fibre crackers
- Fruit – fresh or dried
- Slice of high fibre bread / toast or crackers with peanut butter / hummus
- Home made banana flapjack / tea cake / hot cross bun
- Small amount of cheese
- Plan your snacks and take them with you. If you go to the shop you may be tempted into crisps or chocolate!
It is very important to keep hydrated, aiming for 6-8 glasses per day.
- Water is the best option – tap is fine or bottled still / sparkling
- Tea, herbal, green
- no added sugar squash.
- If you take sugar in your tea or coffee, try and cut it down slowly with the aim of cutting it out completely
- Try not to have to much coffee, if you have trouble sleeping, then avoid it in the evening and go for caffeine free alternatives. If you are pregnant you should have no more than 200mg of caffeine per day
- Remember alcohol contains a lot of calories so keep within your health limits.
Your diet does not have to be totally sugar free and it is ok to have a small amount in your diet, so if your diet is generally low in sugar, you can get away with a small amount of high sugar foods (jam, marmalade, honey) or a little treat ever so often. I have not included these in the plan – your treat is up to you!
Most importantly of all, enjoy your food!
This post was written in May 2016 and updated in September 2020.