15 Weeks of More
Week 2: Go for Whole Grains
How did the first week go? Did you learn a new way to add more green? Send me a message or an email to share your experience. I would love to hear from you. And remember, just because the first week is over, does not mean you avoid all of the green foods. Keep it going!
Let's talk whole grains. Between the trend diets demonizing grains and the emphasis on low carbohydrate diets for health and weight loss, it seems like we're all inundated with the message to avoid grains. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to take a full week to do the opposite and emphasis the importance of whole grains in a healthy diet. I won't be discussing low carbohydrate diets here, so if you have specific questions on that please let me know and I will be happy to answer your questions. What I will be talking about here is why whole grains can and should be a part of a healthy diet. And yes, even those avoiding gluten can still enjoy whole grains.
Your goal this week is to replace grains in your meals with whole grains. Or, if you typically don't eat grains because you've heard some of the myths mentioned above then try adding whole grains to three to five meals this week.
What are whole grains?
Whole grains are grains with all parts left intact - germ, endosperm, and bran. This means the grain has not been refined which involves a process of removing the bran and germ leaving only the endosperm. For a more detailed description of a whole grain plus the benefits of eating whole grains, check out this article.
Why are whole grains good for you?
Eating whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Whole grains contain fiber, some protein, B vitamins, and important minerals like magnesium. Whole grains are also readily available and inexpensive making them an easy addition to a healthy diet.
Not all grains are created equal
Refined grains and whole grains have very different impacts on health. When we talk about incorporating grains into the diet, the emphasis must be placed on the majority being in their whole form. Grains typically have a bad reputation because most people lump all grains (refined or not) into the same category and call them all "bad" for you. This just isn't the case and we must recognize the difference between whole and refined. Refined grains are considered to be less healthful because many of the nutrients are removed during processing. Refined grains digest more quickly than whole grains because they are lower in fiber. This quick digestion contributes to a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin response. Additionally, refined grains are often a staple in highly processed foods with added sugar. This doesn't mean that all foods containing whole grains are inherently low in added sugar, so it's important to continue to check labels. The list below provides types of whole grains with an asterisk next to those that are gluten free. When checking a label on breads, for example, make sure the first ingredient lists a whole grain (not enriched or refined grains).
Oats* (gluten-free if marked as such)
Brown Rice (or other colors of whole grain rice)*
A word on gluten
Gluten is a hot topic because the number of people diagnosed with celiac disease - a disease the requires the absolute avoidance of gluten - is on the rise. Many people are also being diagnosed as gluten intolerant which is leading to an overall increase in the number of gluten-free foods on the market. If you don't have an intolerance, allergy, or celiac disease then there is no reason to avoid gluten. There has been no research to support the idea that eating gluten has negative health impacts for those without a sensitivity, allergy, or celiac disease. And gluten alone does not lead to weight gain.
Adding whole grains to your diet can be easy and inexpensive. Check out the ideas below (and don't forget to share your tips and creations with #aneweats!):
Choose only whole grain breads for home. You're more likely to eat refined breads away from home, so choosing a whole grain option for home is one way to ensure you will be eating whole grains. I'll be sharing a video this week on this very topic, so stay tuned!
Whole grains can take time to cook. For this reason, I like to keep quick-cooking options in my cabinets. Try 10 minute whole grains like this found at Whole Foods or on Amazon. Speed things up even more with microwave options like these.
Did you know that popcorn is a whole grain? Snack on some this week, but be mindful of the added fat and sodium. Flavor popcorn yourself with herbs and spices. You can also pick-up ready-to-eat options like these.
Sneak whole grains into your morning smoothie. I like to add oats to my smoothie for extra fiber. (Old fashioned, rolled oats work best.)
Make your pizza crust whole grain with this easy whole wheat pizza crust recipe from the ANEWtrition blog. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods also sell fresh, whole wheat pizza crust if you're looking for convenience.
Pumpkin is already making its debut, so why not try it in your morning oats? Check out this pumpkin pie oatmeal recipe on the ANEWtrition blog.
Or try these overnight oat recipes here.
I will be sharing my tips and tricks for increasing whole grains in your diet on social this week. You can see more on Instagram @allisonknottrd or on Facebook on the ANEWtrition page. See links below to access all social media sites.
New here? Check out the introduction to 15 Weeks of More and Week 1.
I'm looking forward to connecting with you!