I got a bag of lentils for Christmas. I realize that most people would think that was a very random gift, but for a person who loves food, it is perfect.
Being from the north, lentils, split peas or legumes in general just aren’t a staple on our dinner table, not like they are in the south, and until I got the lentils as a present, I had never cooked with them.
My lack of lentil experience forced me to do recipe research and inevitably lead me down the road of soups and stews along with dips and salads.
My research also led me to have many conversations about why lentils and legumes, in general, are good for you and why everyone should be eating more of them.
These vegetables are very high in fiber. Fiber, it turns out, is one of the things our Western diet is most deficient in, even after years of Metamucil TV ads.
Forget fancy supplements for B, C or D Vitamins, forget protein shakes, according to the medical journals I read the thing we don’t eat enough of is fiber.
The benefits to our hearts, in particular, are enticing. If you want to learn more, start here Dietary fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet.
Why It Makes Sense to Increase Fiber Slowly
But increasing your daily dose of fiber can sometimes cause an uncomfortable side effect – excess gas.
There are lots of theories about various things you can do to reduce the amount of gas you experience after eating legumes, but most of these theories have been debunked. Over time I have tried many of them, rinsing canned beans, soaking dried beans, chewing slower, avoiding carbonated drinks when eating legumes.
After a couple of months of intentionally increasing the amount of fiber I eat, I found that the only thing that really works for me has been the deliberate slow increase of my daily fiber. It makes sense. Going from about 15 grams of fiber a day to 28 grams of fiber is a big jump. It’s no surprise our bodies have to work differently to digest all that fiber.
So don’t be discouraged by the initial side effects of eating more legumes. Your body becomes used to this kind of healthy change, and the benefits of increasing the amount of fiber you eat are well-founded.