Watching your weight? Make a friend of fibre

Week 5 of our New Year diet plan.

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Fibre does not always get the attention it deserves - especially when it comes to weight loss. Not only can it help lower your risk of certain cancers and help control blood-sugar levels, but foods high in fibre make you feel full - which can help you to eat less overall. Adults need between 25 and 38mg of fibre a day. This week's meal plan is packed with fibre-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and psyllium - seeds high in soluble fibre. Fibre works best with plenty of fluid, so drink up.
This sample weight-loss plan is intended for an overweight, moderately active, healthy woman. People with higher energy needs, including men, should follow the bigger appetite option. For best results, drink at least two to three litres of water every day, exercise regularly and space your meals evenly through the day. Anyone attempting this meal plan should first consult a doctor.
Breakfast 175ml cooked oatmeal (such as Quaker Instant Cinnamon Spice, prepared with water) topped with 15ml psyllium husks (such as Puritan's Pride Psyllium Husks, available at speciality food stores and pharmacies) and one sliced kiwi; 250ml glass of low-fat milk. Snack One pear. Lunch Lentil salad: 250ml cooked lentils with 125ml each sliced red capsicum and diced cucumber, 250ml rocket and diced red onion, sliced green onions to taste. Season with 10ml each olive oil and red-grape vinegar. Snack 12 baby carrots with 60ml hummus (Lulu own-brand). Dinner 90g steamed salmon topped with 15ml hoisin sauce, served with 150ml cooked brown rice and 250ml steamed spinach seasoned with lemon juice.
Breakfast 125ml foul medames with half a small (15cm) whole-wheat Arabic bread (such as Modern Bakery low-calorie wholemeal flat bread); one banana. Snack 250ml low-fat yogurt sprinkled with 15ml ground flaxseed (such as Hodgson Mill Milled Flaxseeds).
Lunch Chicken barley salad: 90g grilled sliced chicken breast tossed with 150ml cooked barley, 250ml spinach, four chopped dried apricots, chopped cilantro, 30ml dried cranberries, 10ml each olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper. Snack 250ml sliced strawberries with 15ml ground flaxseed. Dinner 150ml cooked lentils tossed with garlic, 125ml each diced tomatoes and celery and chilli powder to taste. Simmer until heated through, top with 60ml grated Cheddar cheese; one slice dense rye bread (such as Delba Backbetrieb wholegrain rye bread) with 15ml mashed avocado.
Breakfast One slice wholegrain bread (such as Modern Bakery Multicereal Bread) with 15ml peanut butter; one hard-boiled egg; one apple. Snack 250ml chopped cauliflower with 60ml hummus. Lunch Cheese wrap: 30g Cheddar cheese stuffed in half a small whole-wheat Arabic bread with sliced tomato and 250ml spinach; one banana. Snack 250ml low-fat yogurt topped with 125ml blueberries and 30ml ground flaxseed. Dinner 90g grilled lean lamb loin with one medium boiled potato and 250ml each streamed spinach and carrots seasoned with lemon juice.
Breakfast Breakfast parfait: layer 250ml strawberries with 250ml low-fat yogurt, 30ml slivered almonds and 15ml psyllium husks. Snack One apple with 15ml peanut butter. Lunch High-fibre salad: 500ml spinach tossed with 60ml cooked lentils, 60ml chickpeas, 125ml each sliced strawberries, grated carrot and sliced red capsicum with 15ml calorie-reduced vinaigrette (such as Home Brand Delightfully Light Italian); half slice dense rye bread spread with 15ml mashed avocado. Snack 750ml air-popped popcorn (such as American Garden Light or Orville Redenbacher's Light Butter). Dinner Shrimp stir-fry: 90g shrimp sautéed in 15ml olive oil with garlic, ginger and 250ml each cauliflower and carrots - drizzled with 15ml orange juice, 10ml soy sauce and 5ml toasted sesame seeds; 150ml brown rice.
Breakfast One slice wholegrain toast with 5ml non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Flora Original); one orange; 250ml low-fat yogurt.
Snack 250ml each raw broccoli and red capsicum with 60ml hummus. Lunch 125ml channa masala with 250ml curried mixed vegetables (both prepared from Shan Masala Mix, available at supermarkets) and half a plain nan bread. Snack One pear; 250ml low-fat milk. Dinner 90g grilled hammour seasoned with lemon juice; 150ml mashed sweet potatoes and eight roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar; 500ml spinach salad tossed with 250ml sliced raw vegetables and 15ml calorie-reduced vinaigrette.
Breakfast 175ml high-fibre cereal (such as Kellogg's Bran Flakes) topped with 250ml low fat milk, two sliced kiwi and 15ml psyllium husks. Snack 250ml low-fat yogurt with one banana and 15ml ground flaxseed. Lunch Egg salad sandwich: one hard-boiled egg mixed with 15ml reduced-calorie mayonnaise (such as American Garden Light) on one slice dense rye bread with 250ml rocket, sliced tomato, green onions and Dijon mustard to taste; 250ml clear broth vegetable soup (such as Knorr Florida Spring Vegetable Soup).
Snack One sliced red capsicum and six baby carrots with 30ml hummus. Dinner Two chicken kebabs (90g) with half small whole-wheat Arabic bread, one roasted tomato and 250ml tabbouleh.
Breakfast Smoothie: blend 250ml low-fat milk with 125ml strawberries and one banana; half slice dense rye bread with 5ml fruit spread (such as Waitrose reduced-sugar strawberry jam). Snack Two kiwis. Lunch 250ml lentil soup (such as Baxters Healthy Choice Tomato and Brown Lentil Soup) with four whole-wheat saltine crackers; one apple. Snack 750ml air-popped popcorn. Dinner 90g steamed sole topped with lime juice, cilantro and chilli flakes to taste; 150ml steamed quinoa (such as Bohlsener Muhle Organic Quinoa); 250ml vinegar-based coleslaw (from supermarket deli counter; not mayonnaise-based).
For bigger appetites, choose any five of the following each day: one slice rye bread, one piece of fruit, 150ml high-fibre cereal, 60ml oats, half a small whole-wheat Arabic bread, 85ml beans or lentils, 125ml brown rice, 250ml berries, 500ml mixed vegetables.