Whole grains are a much healthier choice than their refined counterparts. Why? Because whole grains are less processed and retain more of their nutrients. When they are refined, much of the good part is stripped from the grain, leaving behind very little nutritional value. If you’re going to eat grains, switching to the whole ones can be a really great choice for your health. Not sure where to start? Here’s a great guide for getting it done.
1. Start off Slow so You Don’t Get Tired of the Taste
If you’ve always been a refined grain kind of girl, it can be hard to switch cold turkey to the whole version. Instead of going all out at one time, try taking things slow. Have your sandwich with one slice of white and one slice of 100% whole wheat. Once you get used to the taste, make both slices the whole grain type. Do half and half white rice and brown rice or white pasta and whole wheat. This allows your palate to get used to the changes gradually.
2. Learn to Read Labels Very Carefully
A product might be claiming to be whole grain, but the only way to know for sure is to read the label with care. You want a product, be it bread, pasta or cereal, that states 100% whole grain on the package. Read the ingredients and make sure the first one is a whole grain. If not, the item might contain whole grains but isn’t 100%, so you should move on to something else that is.
3. Have Oatmeal for Breakfast Instead of Cold Cereal
There are loads of cereals on the market, but it’s often hard to find one that is 100% whole grains. By making the switch to oatmeal for breakfast, you solve the problem with ease. Oats are a whole grain and will fill you up for far longer than cold cereal, helping prevent snacking between meals. Beef your oatmeal up with fresh fruit and nuts and you have a morning meal that can’t be beat.
4. Crunch on Some Popcorn for a Snack
If you’re anything like me, crunchy and salty snacks are the ones you crave the most. The problem is that pretzels and potato chips are not whole grains and are also loaded with calories. Opt for air-popped popcorn instead and you can eat a whopping three cups of it without feeling guilty. You’ll get a good dose of whole grains and a snack that totally satisfies a craving.
5. Consider Making Your Own Whole Grain Products
The best way to control your whole grain intake is to make your own bread, cereal and pasta. Yes, it can be time consuming, but you can make big batches at one time and freeze them so you have a good stock to rely on for a while. When you make your own whole grain foods, you can ensure that they only have the ingredients you want and not the ones you’re trying to avoid. Perfect!
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Some New Things
Have you found out you aren’t a fan of whole wheat or brown rice? Don’t worry. There are lots of other whole grain options that fit the bill. Try millet, amaranth, spelt or quinoa products instead. You might find that you discover a new favorite along the way and there’s nothing wrong with that.
7. Give Yourself a Break from Time to Time
I don’t mind 100% whole wheat bread or whole grain pasta, but I just can’t stand brown rice. If you have one or two refined grains that you can’t give up, go ahead and eat them in small portions. Then, make the rest of your grain intake whole grains and you should be good to go.
What whole grains are your favorites?