Do you incorporate whole grains into your diet?
Try adding some healthy alternatives to grains in your eating habits, and get some ideas below!
Hi my name is Rita. So far I’ve lost about 30 lbs but I feel like it’s been luck. My goal is to lose just under 200 lbs total putting me around 150. I’m realistic I know it’s going to take a lot of time. The problem is I don’t want to just go on a diet, I want to change how I eat forever. I’ve pretty much been on a strict protein and veggies diet, but I keep hearing so much about whole grains. So my questions are how important are whole grains? And, how can I incorporate whole grains into my diet without adding a ton of carbs and sugar?
I’m glad you’re responding to what you’ve heard about whole grains and are looking to round-out your diet. Grains are the seeds of grasses and have been consumed by populations across the globe for thousands of years. The benefits from whole grains include gut health, stabilized blood sugar levels, increased satisfaction/reduced appetite, and grains contain several vitamins and minerals. Grains are an excellent source of manganese, a good source of magnesium and phosphorus, and many are good sources of iron, copper, thiamin (vitamin B1), and selenium. Others contain iron, niacin, and vitamin B6 in good quantities.
Sure, you could get those micro-nutrients from other food sources but would likely need to eat potatoes, fruit, taro and beans to get sufficient carbohydrates, as most people simply can’t eat enough vegetables to sustain themselves.
Unlike fruit and many vegetables, one does not pick grains (also called kernels) off the plant and start chewing. First the protective husk must be removed, then the grains must be cooked, which reduces their phytic acid, protease inhibitor and lectin content… meaning you get less of those compounds, gain digestibility and absorb their nutrients better. So, what constitutes a whole grain? Whole grains contain all 3 edible parts (bran, endosperm and germ) of a kernel and include the following: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn (including popcorn), millet, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, sorghum, teff, triticale, wheat (including bulgur, cracked wheat and wheat berries). That means eating them whole, not processed. So NO pastas, couscous, orzo, breads, rolls, tortillas, muffins, crackers, chips, etc. Sprouted whole grain breads contain enzymes and are devoid of refined grain flour, so perhaps you might include those.
To incorporate whole grains into your diet, consider a small hot bowl of steel cut oats or wheat berries at breakfast, sprinkling some quinoa on your salads, adding barley or rye into your mixed vegetables and soups, or use farrow as a side dish seasoned with garlic & herbs. Corn can be added to salsa. Grains like rice can replace pasta in some dishes, as with a ragout (pictured). Don’t forget about munching on popcorn as a snack!
– Debbie J., MS, RD
This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.
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