Something we all remember from childhood is our mom, our doctor, and even our teachers telling us to eat more fiber. But how many of us really knew what they were talking about?

Dietary fiber refers to carbohydrates that cannot be digested, which means that when consumed, they fill you up and provide you with energy. Here are  the two main benefits of eating fiber:

1. It's loaded with vitamins and minerals. The foods in which fiber is found (mainly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains) are often low in fat and calories-and packed with vitamins and minerals.

2. It helps prevent health problems. Both the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dietetic Association (ADA) claim that consuming the proper amount of fiber can help improve digestive disorders; lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure; and prevent obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

The Institute of Medicine recommends eating 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories, which can be 30 grams per day. Problem is, the average American eats only about half that. Without obsessing over nutrition labels, here are simple, everyday ways to make sure you get enough fiber-and how you'll know it's enough.

Switch Entirely To Whole Grains
Get in the habit of buying brown pastas, rice, breads, and cereals. One cup of whole grain spaghetti has 6 grams of fiber, 1 cup of whole grain oatmeal has 4, and 1 cup of wheat bran cereal has 24.

Prepare Fruit Ahead of Time
Slice up whichever fruits are in season into a bowl, and properly store them in the fridge. Throughout the week, add them to yogurt and/or cereal, or simply eat them plain. Apples and oranges each have 3 grams of fiber, while strawberries have 4.

Rethink Your Snacks
Graham crackers and fig bars are tastier and more filling than a bag of potato chips. If you have a sweet tooth, let low-fat oatmeal raisin cookies fill the void.

Put Toppings on Your Pizza
Instead of three greasy slices of plain, one or two slices of broccoli, spinach, and green pepper pizza can be a healthy meal.

Mix in Legumes
Soups should contain lentils (10 grams of fiber per cup). To rice and pasta, add kidney beans (16 grams per cup). And top a steak with split peas (9 grams per cup).

Following these guidelines takes little more than a conscious choice. And the results will be well worth it.