I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day. The store was understaffed, so two controllers were working.
While waiting for my turn, I couldn’t help but notice what was in the cart in front of me.
Unfortunately, I cannot “turn off” the internal switch of my nutrition specialist.
A few things caught my eye in the cart in front of me. An economically sized fiber supplement container and an equally large container of antacids were in the cart. I don’t know if the client has had any issues with heartburn (or acid indigestion), cholesterol, or constipation.
I wasn’t going to ask either.
The customer had three cases of sugary soft drinks, an assortment of crisps, two boxes of sugary cereal, fried foods, candy bars, and several boxes of dinner mixes.
I did not spot any fruit, vegetable or whole grain in the cart.
I did not make eye contact with my husband. He would have known what I was thinking.
My husband may have wanted to put me in an empty grocery cart. I could have navigated in a cart to the automatic doors of the parking lot.
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Of course, I wouldn’t do a nutrition class at the grocery store. I was however tempted.
Perhaps the client had children at home who had made the shopping list for him. If the supplement and antacids were for him, I hope he spoke to a healthcare professional.
Of course, any of the foods in her basket can fit into a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. Nutritionists usually advise you to include a mixture of foods and try to eliminate the less healthy options.
Heartburn is a very uncomfortable condition. The burning pain occurs when acid from the stomach travels up the esophagus to the chest, throat, or mouth. It does not involve the heart, but the pain can be centered near the heart.
Many foods can trigger heartburn, including foods high in fat or fried, spicy foods, garlic and onions, caffeinated sodas, chocolate, tomatoes, and even ketchup and mustard. . Heartburn is common in pregnant women, but it goes away after childbirth.
Large meals can trigger heartburn, as can lying down after eating.
If you have heartburn, you can often manage it by eating smaller, more frequent meals with lots of fiber. Tell your healthcare professional if heartburn symptoms persist, as complications can occur.
Many people go without dietary fiber. Women need an average of 25 grams per day and men 38 grams per day. Most adults reach about half (or less) of this goal.
Start by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. We adults need at least 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Fresh, canned, frozen and dried, it all counts. Aim for all colors, including carrots, broccoli, dark leafy greens, and beets.
Raspberries are particularly high in fiber, with 8 grams per cup. Potatoes (with the skin on) have about 3 grams of fiber per potato, while apples have about 4 grams per apple.
For the best sources of fiber, head to the dry beans and canned beans area. Enjoy more beans of all colors. Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and split peas are particularly high in fiber with 6.5 to 9 grams of fiber per half cup.
Learn more about beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas by searching online for “NDSU Extension All About Beans” and “NDSU Extension Pulses the Perfect Food”.
In the grain and bread aisle, look for “whole grain” on the product and read the fiber content on the Nutrition Facts label. The ingredient statement may list whole wheat, whole grain oats or another whole grain as the first or second item.
For snacks, enjoy more whole-kernel popcorn and high-fiber nuts and seeds, including pumpkin, flax, and chia seeds.
Finally, drink plenty of water and other fluids when increasing your fiber intake, otherwise you could become constipated.
This week I found a soup recipe that demonstrates high fiber and vegetable content. This recipe and nutritional analysis courtesy of Spend Smart. Eat smart. program at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. It contains 12 grams of fiber per serving, mostly due to lentils. I added the optional chicken or turkey for the soup after the holidays.
I’m not sure I can convince my fellow grocer to try this healthy recipe, but maybe having carrot sticks would be a good start to a healthier diet.
Kale and Lentil Vegetable Soup
2 tablespoons of oil, such as canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 teaspoons minced garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup of dry yellow, red or brown lentils
1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon of dried basil or Italian seasoning
1 can (14.5 ounces) no sodium added diced tomatoes (or 2 chopped tomatoes)
1 bunch of kale (about 7 ounces) – or alternate spinach
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Optional addition (2 cups ground chicken or turkey)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook for five minutes. Add water to the pot and bring to a boil. Rinse the lentils in a colander with water. Add the lentils to the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not drain. Add the chicken or vegetable broth, seasoning and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the kale leaves (or spinach), cut the stems if necessary and discard them. Cut the leaves into one-inch pieces. Stir in kale (or spinach), salt and pepper to the lentil mixture. Return to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for three minutes.
Makes six servings (1 1/2 cups per serving). Each serving contains 200 calories, 5 grams (g) of fat, 11 g of protein, 29 g of carbohydrates, 12 g of fiber, and 170 milligrams of sodium.
Julie Garden-Robinson is a Food and Nutrition Specialist and Professor at the NDSU Extension.