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Fuel vs fibre: how to find the right balance

Roasted Butternut Squash and Parmesan Soup

I’ve just had the most delicious bowl of our Nourish Roasted Butternut Squash and Parmesan Soup for lunch. It’s one of our all-time seasonal favourites and always goes down well with my patients and members of our Nourish community, who want to eat something delicious, high in fibre and rich enough in calories to fill a small stomach with energy.

Because that’s the problem with fibre. Although it’s crucial for our wellbeing (see below), eating fibre-rich foods when we have a small appetite doesn’t leave much space for other crucial nutrients. It’s because fibre, which is typically found in plant cell walls, expands like a sponge in the presence of liquid, quickly filling our stomach and giving us the ‘full’ feeling that tells our brain it’s time to stop eating.

If we haven’t taken in enough energy-rich fat and protein alongside the fibre, we simply don’t have enough fuel to power our day, leaving us feeling washed out and tired. It’s something you may have noticed if you’re caring for someone and giving them meals full of lots of healthy fruit and vegetables, that they either can’t finish or which don’t seem to give them the boost you’d hoped for.

Which brings me back to my delicious soup. It packs plenty of easy-to-eat fibre into even a small bowlful, but the Parmesan (and optional swirl of double cream) adds essential calories that provide a much-needed energy boost. You can enrich other foods in the same way to get a satisfying balance of fibre and fuel. Try adding cheese or an extra knob of butter to mashed potato; a dollop of Greek yoghurt to some stewed apples; a drizzle of olive oil over steamed vegetables. When portions are small, every mouthful counts…

3 benefits of fibre
1 It keeps our digestive system working efficiently and our hearts healthy.
2 It helps to balance our blood sugar levels, which improves our energy levels and ability to concentrate.
3 It reduces the risk of developing certain conditions, such as cancer and diabetes.

Where to find fibre
Soluble fibre can help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation. Find it in fruits, vegetables, pulses and grains.
Insoluble fibre helps the movement of food through the body, improving digestive health, preventing constipation and reducing risk of diseases such as bowel cancer. Find it in wholegrain foods and seeds.

Try this… find the recipe for our Roasted Butternut Squash and Parmesan Soup here.

Related article
Fibre: when the only option is to go low

Related video
When you need a low-fibre diet
 

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