I hope these last several weeks have brought about great results in your life and in your health. By now you have a good idea of what foods are working well for you but there is one major food group that we have not yet introduced. The finale of food additions; the BIG GRAIN! Some of you may choose to go a little longer without grains for more weight loss and that’s ok. For others, this long awaited addition is welcomed with open arms. If images of white bread and mountains of pasta are coming to mind, then stop right there and clear your head. We are making dietary changes here to promote optimal health for you and your family which means making the best and most nutritive choices. The word “whole” wheat or whole grains will be a key component in your diet should you chose to implement grains. This is a big change for many of you but it’s a change for better health. If the taste or texture of whole grain foods is unappealing to you, consider trying different grain varieties or cooking methods. You may have to flex your mental muscles here to re-establish such dietary changes, but remember your Dietitian is here to help!
Let’s dive into what is meant by the term “whole grain.” A whole grain is the entire kernel consisting of three layers: The bran, endosperm and germ. When whole grains are milled (refined), the nutritious outer portion (bran and germ) are removed, leaving only the starchy endosperm. Unfortunately, more than half the fiber and almost three-quarters of the vitamins and minerals are in the bran and germ. When you eat foods that are made from whole grains, you get the nutritional benefits of the entire grain. Enriched grain products add back some of the vitamins lost when the grain was milled but several other important nutrients and fiber do not get added back.
It is best to introduce grains slowly back into your diet. Your dietitian will work closely with you to determine exactly how much should be incorporated. This helps emphasize portion control and allows for greater observation over any possible changes in appetite or food sensitivity symptoms. For clarification, a wheat sensitivity is a type of food intolerance, whereas a gluten sensitivity involves the immune system and can set up inflammation. Reactions from such sensitivities can be delayed and occur hours up to 3 days later. Discuss any out of the ordinary symptoms or cravings with your Dietitian to determine if there is any correlation with your implementation of grains. You can also purchase an Expert Support package to find on the spot answers to any questions you may have in relation to this. Remember, if you do suspect a food sensitivity or notice increased cravings for carbohydrates, be sure to share this with your Dietitian.
This is one of the reasons we like to slowly add in grain based foods. You’ll noticed that grains will be introduced in a series of steps, starting first with bread-based grains, followed by cooked whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta) and lastly whole grain snacks and cereals. When introduced, each grain will be treated as a carb choice and will be swapped out for other carbs (i.e. fruit, beans, milk, and flavored yogurt). As with previous additions before, one serving is approximately 100calories and provides 15-20g of carbohydrates.
Navigating the supermarket can be challenging in itself with the wide array of whole-wheat and non-whole wheat foods available. Let’s face it, the choices can be overwhelming and confusing but remember, your dietitian will help you with what to look for. Some guidelines to remember:
• Wheat flour is white flour unless the ingredient list says “whole wheat flour”
• 1 serving = 100 calories (That’s generally 1 slice of bread or ½ cup cooked whole grains)
• Look for >3g fiber per serving
• Measuring and pre portioning is essential in order to prevent excess calorie intake (especially with cereals and crackers!)
• Keep your daily allotment to just 1 serving/day (<100calories) unless otherwise indicated by your dietitian
Some great products that I typically recommend due to their high fiber and protein content include: Flat Out Wraps (found at Fred Myer, Costco) and La Tortilla Factories Smart & Delicious tortillas (found at Fred Myer and Whole Foods). Both products offer less than 100 calories, over 8g of protein and 9-13g of fiber. Unbelievable! You will feel happily satiated after implementing one of these tasty grains into your meal plan. Try one a try by making a sandwich wrap using your favorite protein source, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce and a healthy drizzle of vinaigrette.
Whole grains truly are a wonderful source of complex carbohydrates. Enjoy this addition and be sure to check out the Stage 7 video for additional whole grain tips and recipe inspiration!