Finding Fiber in the Grocery Store

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN — December 17, 2018 

Food shopping today is very different from just 50 years ago when shoppers pushed a cart up and down the six to eight parallel aisles of a grocery store that only sold food.  Supermarkets now cover over 45,000 square feet and offer everything from the food we eat to the fuel we put in our cars to get it home. And if that’s too much trouble, consumers can simply place an order online and have their groceries delivered to their front door.

The food choices available today have changed, too. Shoppers can now buy every ingredient they need to prepare exciting new recipes or purchase meals kits that contain all of the pre-cut ingredients they need to make dinner for two in 20 minutes, or select a different complete meal for every member of the family from the prepared food department.

All of these changes in the food shopping experience mean the messages wellness professionals share with consumers about how to make the best food choices when shopping must change, too. This is especially true when guiding the public to all of the fiber-rich foods in the grocery store since so many Americans do not meet the recommended daily intake for dietary fiber.

One of the best ways to help consumers find fiber rich foods is to remind them they can be found throughout the store, not just in the fresh produce section or the cereal aisle. Encourage them to seek higher fiber options for the foods they already buy by comparing the fiber content on the Nutrition Facts labels and to take advantage of the many products that are a good, or better, source of fiber because they contain added fibers. Filling their carts (or online orders) with more fiber is easier when consumers realize the entire store offers them choices that they may not have taken advantage of before.

Suggestions for Finding Fiber in the Grocery Store

Serve Yourself Food Bars

  • Salad Bars with assorted leafy greens and pre-cut vegetables and fruits can be used to make customized salads or get the vegetables needed for a recipe
  • In-store buffets offer ready-to-eat vegetable, grain, and bean side dishes, and many high fiber plant-based ethnic entrees
  • ‘Mediterranean’ bars feature different types of hummus, roasted vegetables, tabbouleh, and stuffed grape leaves
  • Soup bars contain assorted varieties with vegetables, beans, peas, lentils and grains and chili with beans

Prepared Foods Department

  • Family-sized heat-and-serve side dishes with different types of prepared vegetables, potatoes, and grain mixtures can complement any entrée

Produce Department

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole and sectioned, including international varieties and seasonal selections
  • Peeled, diced, sliced, shredded, riced and spiralized fruits and vegetables that are recipe-ready
  • Bulk and bagged onions, potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes available all year round
  • Ready-to-serve Vegetable platters and fruit trays for entertaining

International Food Section

  • Greater assortment of bagged and canned beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds
  • Baby corn, assorted salsas, falafel mix, and other specialty vegetables and grain mixtures
  • Soba, ramen, udon and other whole grain Japanese noodles

Freezer Cases

  • Vegetables in single varieties or medleys, including edamame and other beans and peas, and vegetable mixtures combined with whole grains
  • Fruits and berries in single varieties or medleys and mixtures pre-cut for smoothies
  • Whole wheat and multigrain waffles, pancakes, French toast, pizza dough, and bake-and-serve dinner rolls
  • Vegan and vegetarian frozen meals, including meals-in-a-bowl, featuring beans, peas, and lentils and whole grains
  • Veggie burgers, veggie crumbles and other meat substitutes
  • High fiber ice creams containing added fibers

‘Center Store’ Packaged Food Aisles

  • Canned and jarred vegetables, including diced and stewed tomatoes and pureed pumpkin
  • Canned and jarred fruits in household and single serving sizes
  • Soups in cans, pouches and heat-and-eat single servings featuring vegetables, beans, lentils, peas and grains
  • Canned beans, peas and lentils and baked beans
  • Bagged dried beans, peas, lentils
  • Barley, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, sorghum, wild rice, brown rice and other whole grains
  • Assorted whole grain and high fiber breakfast cereals, including whole bran and cereals some with added fibers
  • Breakfast bars, cereal bars, and snack bars including some with added fiber
  • Whole wheat panko and bread crumbs, croutons and stuffing mixes
  • High fiber pasta and whole wheat couscous
  • Whole wheat and buckwheat pancake mix
  • Assorted whole grain flours and corn meal for cooking and baking
  • Whole grain quick bread and muffin mixes
  • Prune juice and some vegetable juices with added fiber

Condiments Section

  • Jars of roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, caponata and other marinated and pickled vegetables
  • Dry pack and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

‘Natural Foods’ Department

  • Bulk bin dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
  • Assorted nut butters in jars or freshly ground
  • Meal replacement bars, high protein bars, granola bars, and high fiber bars, some made with added fibers

Fresh Bakery Department

  • Artisanal multi-grain breads and rolls, many with seeds on top
  • Bran muffins, whole wheat croissants, multigrain crostini and seeded bread sticks

Deli and Packaged Bread Departments

  • Coleslaw, broccoli slaw, carrot salad, pickled beets, 3-bean salad, salads, vegetable fritters and other prepared vegetable grains and beans salads
  • Assorted whole grain and high fiber breads, rolls, English muffins, wraps, tortillas, flatbreads, pita, naan and other specialty breads
  • Ready-to-assemble whole wheat pizza crusts

Dairy Department

  • High fiber yogurts containing added fibers
  • High fiber cottage cheese containing added fiber

Refrigerated

  • Sauerkraut in bags and pouches
  • Guacamole and hummus in a variety of flavors and container sizes
  • Sectioned citrus and other fruits in jars, fresh salsa, and fresh bruschetta

Snack Food Aisles

  • Whole grain crackers, chips, pretzels, and popcorn
  • Single-pack nuts, seeds, and trail mix
  • High fiber brownies, cookies and cakes made with added fiber
  • Dry roasted peas, garbanzo beans and soybeans

Health and Beauty Department

  • Fiber supplements in capsules, tablets, gummies, and powdered mixes

REFERENCES

Dietary Fiber on the Food Label

Closing the Fiber Gap

 

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

 

Items of Interest

December 17, 2018