I usually need a quick pick me up at about 3:00 PM. This usually consists of a cup of green tea and something sweet. But since I want to limit my intake of refined sugar, I've been on the lookout for products that are naturally sweet. I've found some snack bars, while they are marked as natural or have a GMO-free seal, the sugar contained in them is refined not natural. How do I know?
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
Sugar: The good and the bad
Figs contain both types of fiber
How many grams of fiber per day?
Can you eat too much fiber?
How to add fiber to diet
SUGAR: THE GOOD AND THE BAD
If a product does not list the sugar as being Organic sugar, then you can bet it is refined and contains Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). What is also interesting, is we have no clue how much sugar is really in a serving of any product by simply reading the label. Do you know how much a gram of sugar is? I know I don't. We do not operate on the metric system in the US. It is very clever that products sold in the U.S. are labeled in metric which is very confusing to American consumers.
An easy way to think about how much sugar is in a serving: 4 grams = 1 tsp of sugar. If we look at a popular instant breakfast, oatmeal with any flavoring, it can have anywhere from 11 grams - 13 grams of sugar. This translates into 2.75 tsp - 3.25 tsp of sugar in a single serving. That is a lot of refined sugar for just one meal.
Finding snack foods without refined sugar is challenging. I'm always on the lookout for recipes that do not have added sugar or that I can make substitutions for the sugar - such as maple syrup or applesauce. Dried figs provide sweetness all on their own and do not need added sugar when used in a recipe.
A great thing about using figs, which contain natural sugar, is the sugar is combined with other minerals and nutrients. One cup of dried figs contain, 95 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, 29% of the Daily Value (DV) of potassium, 25% DV of magnesium and 24% DV of calcium.
When combined with other nutrients, the body absorbs the natural sugar found in figs over time instead of providing a big spike in blood sugar. Plus, by eating fruit based snacks and desserts you are getting potent antioxidants. Antioxidants can help support your body's fight against disease causing free radicals. According to a 2015 study, figs contain plant-based compounds that stimulate the immune response and regulate certain genes involved in immune function. (Source: LiveStrong)
FIGS CONTAIN BOTH TYPES OF FIBER
While figs are high in fiber, it is just as important as the type of fiber they contain. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. What is the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber? Soluble fiber makes you feel full so you don't overeat. If you are trying to lose weight, eating more foods high in soluble fiber will help. Insoluble fiber is necessary to keep the bowels moving and avoid constipation.
Fiber not only helps you lose weight, but it keeps the digestive system healthy. When the digestive system is not working properly, the body will tell you with symptoms. Does any of this sound like you?
👉Diarrhea and/or constipation
👉Bloating and gas
👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing
👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues
👉Headaches and migraines
👉Acne and itchy skin
👉Tired all the time
👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
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HOW MANY GRAMS OF FIBER PER DAY
You are not alone if you read about how fiber can help with weight loss and weight management and you begin to think "I need more fiber in my day!" It is a struggle for most Americans to eat the proper amount of fiber daily. Most Americans only eat 10-15 grams of fiber per day. (Source: Harvard Health) The recommended amount is 25-30 grams per day.
CAN YOU EAT TOO MUCH FIBER?
The short answer is YES IF you are not drinking enough water. Since most of us do not eat enough fiber everyday, increasing the amount of fiber is a great goal. BUT you must also increase the amount of water you drink. If not, constipation will occur. The general rule of thumb for how much water to drink every day is to drink half your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water. It can seem like a lot in the beginning but as you increase the amount you drink, it will become your new normal.
HOW TO ADD FIBER TO DIET
While fig energy balls are a great place to start adding more fiber to your day, it will take more than this healthy snack to get your daily amount of fiber. One of the easiest ways is to start looking to add more fruits and vegetables to your day. Do you normally start your day with a bagel, toast or some other bread product? Add avocado on top. Half an avocado has 7 grams of fiber.
Do you normally skip breakfast? Make overnight oatmeal with healthy add-in's like blueberries, ground flax seed and hemp hearts. This will get you 4 - 8 grams of fiber. Make veggie smoothies with or without yogurt for almost 10 grams of fiber, depending on the mix. These are just a few ideas on how you can start your day with more fiber.
FIG ENERGY BALLS
The fig energy balls were so easy to make! And without any added sugar, I had a healthy snack for the work week. The Fig Balls are so versatile! Any nuts or seeds can be used. The add-ins are totally up to you! I simply used what was in the pantry. Feel free to follow the recipe below or make a change based on what you have in your pantry. The recipe is below.
Serving Size: 1 Fig Ball
Makes: 12 Fig Balls
15 Dried Figs
1/4 cup nuts or seeds (I used pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup oats
2 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 TBSP Hemp Hearts
2 TBSP Raw Honey
3/4 cup of a topping to roll the balls in: coconut flakes, raw cocoa powder, chopped nuts, wheat germ, ground flax seed meal, anything goes! I had a little bit of a coconut mix that had seeds and nuts in it left in the pantry so I used that.
1-2 TBSP Water, as needed
Put all ingredients into a food processor.
Process until the ingredients make a ball. It takes about 5 minutes. You will have to stop it to scrape down the sides at least once. I found the mixture got a little thick so I added 1 TBSP water half-way through the mixing.
To assemble, the mixture will be very sticky.
Put a little bit of coconut oil on your hands for easy handling.
Roll the fig mix into balls, roll the balls into your topping of choice.
Place on parchment paper and put in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. The balls are ready to eat!
I hope you enjoyed learning more about how easy, healthy fig energy balls give a sweet snack that you don't have to feel guilty about. Filled with fiber and other minerals, figs are a healthy way to promote weight loss, weight management and good digestion.
Let me know what you thought of this recipe by leaving a comment below!