3 Steps to More Whole Grains

September is Whole Grains Month. The typical American diet is high in refined grains, but most people don’t eat enough whole grains.

Here’s a 3-step approach to eating more whole grains that you can share with your classes, patients, or clients:

  1. Simple Swaps:  Whole wheat bread for white bread; brown rice for white rice; bran flakes for corn flakes. Our Go for the Whole Grain color tearpad shows lots of possible substitutions for refined grains.
  2. Easy Add Ins:  Add oats to your smoothie; use buckwheat flour for a portion of the all-purpose flour in a recipe; top your spinach salad with a spoonful of cooked quinoa. You’ll find these tips and more in our Grains are for Brains PowerPoint set.
  3. Grain Adventures:  Be brave … try a whole grain you’ve never eaten before! Our All About Whole Grains color tearpad shows pictures of grains many folks have probably never seen. Experiment and see what you like.

Other ways to get into the spirit of Whole Grains Month:

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

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Grains: Set the Story Straight

Between low carb diets and the gluten-free craze, grains get a bad rap. Set things straight by teaching the truth about whole grains.

Whether you want to do a deep-dive webinar series, short Facebook or YouTube Live sessions, or a bulletin board display, we have the materials you need in our Whole Grain theme, including:

What to teach? Here are some catchy ideas to get you started:

  1. Grain’s Anatomy: Teach the parts of a grain. Show how processing turns a healthy whole grain into a less-healthy refined grain.
  2. Make Peace with Bread: Explain how whole grain bread can fit into a healthy eating pattern. Discuss reading labels to find 100% whole grain bread and appropriate serving sizes.
  3. Name That Grain: Most people don’t know much about grains beyond wheat, oats, and rice. Show them pictures of less-familiar grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and farro and give tips on how to prepare them.
  4. Start Your Day the Whole Grain Way: Whole grains are a natural breakfast choice. Talk about the difference between instant oats and steel-cut oats, how to prepare overnight oats, and low sugar whole-grain cereal options.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

Be Carb Smart

Americans love to hate carbohydrates. If cutting carbs means avoiding foods like white bread, big bagels, and sugary cereals, go for it. If it means you’re afraid to eat a banana or drink low-fat milk, we need to talk!

It’s our job to teach people two things about carbs. First, that carbs are the body’s main source of energy, so you can’t do without them. And second, that all carbs are not equal when it comes to calories, fiber, and important nutrients. Our Be Carb Smart PowerPoint, poster, and color handout can help you set the record straight.

Here are some teaching tips to help people Be Carb Smart:

  1. Fiber is key. A high fiber diet helps reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. Fiber also makes you feel full (so you’ll eat less), and helps control blood sugar and cholesterol. Guess which foods provide fiber? Carbs! Be smart – don’t cut out carbs that provide healthy fiber.
  2. Some carbs are high in calories, low in fiber, and low in nutrients. We call these calorie-dense carbs. Examples are French fries, cookies, crackers, and pretzels. These are the carbs you want to cut.
  3. Some carbs are lower in calories, higher in fiber, and high in nutrients. We call these calorie-light carbs. Examples are vegetables, fruits, hot cereals, brown rice, and beans. (Low-fat and skim milk count, too, although they don’t provide fiber.) These are the carbs you want to include in your diet.
  4. MyPlate makes it easy to be carb smart: If you fill your plate with half fruits and vegetables (especially non-starchy veggies), one quarter whole grains, and one quarter protein, you’ll automatically get more calorie-light carbs, plenty of fiber, and other important nutrients.
  5. Be smart about fruit. Fresh, whole fruit is your best bet. Frozen and canned fruit without added sugar is also a good choice. Look for fruit canned in water or fruit juice. Limit dried fruit and fruit juice – both are higher in calories than other forms of fruit.
  6. Be smart about veggies. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are higher in calories than non-starchy veggies like broccoli, tomatoes, and spinach. But they are still calorie-light carbs — unless they’re fried. Fried potatoes (calorie-dense carbs) have 1400 calories per pound, while baked potatoes (calorie-light carbs) have about 500 calories per pound.
  7. Be smart about grains. Less processed is best — so choose more whole grains, like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, oats, and barley. Whole grain bread is fine, but don’t use it as your grain for every meal. Try to mix it up to get more variety.

Carbs get a bad rap. We can restore their reputation by helping folks learn to be carb smart!

 

 

What’s on Your Fork?

Are you looking for an easy (and educational) way to brighten up a classroom, hallway, office, or cafeteria? Check out our What’s On Your Fork poster, bulletin board banner, and wall decals. They feature beautiful, professional photographs of real, healthy food on a black background – these really stand out!

There are so many fun things you can do with the What’s on Your Fork theme. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. What’s on Your Fork display: Start with our banner or poster, or make your own visual materials with pictures of fruits, vegetables, healthy protein sources, and whole grains. Leave space for people to add pictures of what’s on their own forks.
    • Kids can cut out pictures of healthy food from magazines or supermarket flyers, tape them to plastic forks, and create their own display.
  2. What’s on Your Fork selfies: Encourage people to snap a picture when they’re eating healthy food (if it’s on a fork, that’s fun; if not, that’s fine too!). They can share it on social media (#WhatsOnYourFork), share it with a friend, or keep it private.
  3. What’s on Your Fork with food groups: Let clients decide which food group they want to focus on and have them take pictures of what’s on their fork for one day, three days, or a week. Someone who needs to eat more vegetables would take a picture whenever there’s a veggie on their fork (or spoon, or plate, or bowl!). Do the same for fruits, whole grains, and lean protein.
  4. What’s on Your Fork sugar control: People might say they’re going to limit themselves to 1-2 treats a week, but “forget” when they walk by a candy dish or are offered a piece of birthday cake. Have them snap a picture when they eat a sweet treat (on or off a fork!) and keep it on their phone. Then every time they’re tempted by something sugary, they check their phone to see the last time they had one.

Getting to Know Barley

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains – that’s at least 3 to 5 servings of whole grains every day. The average American eats less than one daily serving of whole grains, and some studies show that over 40% of us never eat any whole grains. So, I’ve been on a mission to try different whole grains to add variety to our meals.

One whole grain that tends to be forgotten by many is BARLEY.

As a kid, I remember loving those little white fluffy things floating in my canned vegetarian vegetable soup.  That’s the barley.  If you are like me, this is the extent of your experience with barley, you may be surprised to know that it is the world’s fourth most important cereal crop after wheat, rice, and corn.

Barley can be prepared in many ways in addition to soups and stews. It used as a hot side dish or served as a cold salad. Or eaten like oatmeal. Barley flour is used in bread, pancakes, muffins, and cookies. If you’ve never eaten barley plain, the flavor can be best described as “rich” with a mild sweetness.

Nutritionally ¾ cup cooked barley contains 160 calories, 8 grams fiber and 6 grams protein. It is an excellent source of manganese, selenium, and thiamin and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and niacin. There has been enough research documenting barley’s role in protecting heart health that the U.S. FDA allows barley foods to claim that it reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.

I went looking for barley at my local store.  It’s in the section with the dry beans and rice. I had to look high up on the shelf and found “pearled barley.”  Barley has a particularly tough inedible hull that adheres to the grain kernel. This hull is difficult to remove without losing some of the bran. The easiest way to get this off is to scrape or “pearl” it. That’s why it’s called “pearled barley.”  This process does remove some of the bran. Thusly, “pearled” barley is not technically a whole grain.

I contacted Kelly Toups, Director of Nutrition at the Whole Grains Council about only being able to find “pearled” barley on the grocer’s shelves. She responded that this is not a big problem because barley is different than other grains because the fiber is distributed throughout the grain kernel, rather than being concentrated in the bran.  This means that even pearled barley has a rather impressive amount of fiber.  Barley has 17% fiber which is the highest of all the whole grains. Comparing it to other whole grain foods: brown rice contains 3.5% ?ber, corn about 7%, oats 10% and wheat about 12%.

Toups told me that “whole grain barley does offer higher levels of many essential nutrients when compared with pearled barley.  One 45-gram serving of hulled (whole grain) barley has approximately an additional gram of fiber and protein, and has about twice as much magnesium as pearled barley.”

If you want to get the entire whole grain goodness of barley look for hulled barley or hulless barley. If you can’t find it at your store’s whole-grain aisle, barley can be purchased online.

Tips for cooking barley:  combine one cup of dry uncooked barley with three cups of liquid. This will expand to about 3 ½ cups of cooked grain. Whole grain barley can take 45-60 minutes to cook when simmered slowly. It can be helpful to use a rice cooker since you can cook almost unattended.

Reference:  Oldways Whole Grain Council, https://wholegrainscouncil.org

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

 

Why I Love Teaching About Whole Grains

I love teaching about whole grains! One reason is the look on people’s faces when they understand the difference between a whole grain and a refined grain. I always use a diagram of a kernel of wheat (like this!). When they see the bran, the germ, and all the nutrients that are removed during processing, it’s like an “ah-ha” moment. I see this when I’m talking to third-graders, grandparents, and everyone in between.

Another reason I love this topic is because switching to whole grains is a small change that anyone can make. Swap whole wheat bread for white bread? Can do! Order brown rice instead of white rice? You bet! Small changes are do-able and can add up to a healthier diet in the long run.

We have everything you need to share the whole grain message in your classes, individual counseling, cafeteria, waiting room, or health fair. The Go for the Whole Grain poster and banner feature:

  • Photographs so people can see what all the different grains look like.
  • Information on three common whole grains: whole wheat, oats, and brown rice.
  • Information on whole grains that may not be as familiar to people: chia, farro, kamut, and quinoa, just to name a few.
  • A wheat kernel illustration showing the parts of a whole grain (for that “ah-ha” moment!).
  • Notations showing which whole grains are gluten-free.

Our posters and banners come with copy-ready handouts. Here are 7 examples of lessons they address that make great activities you can use in your classes:

  1. Only 8% of Americans eat the recommended amount of whole grains daily.
  2. Choose whole grains for nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
  3. Health benefits of whole grains: weight management, blood sugar control, lower risk of heart disease and cancer.
  4. Recipe & cooking tips. Did you know that the package often has the best recipe and cooking tips?
  5. Comparison of whole wheat and white flour. This makes a great touching and interactive demonstration!
  6. MyPlate recommendation: Make at least half of your grains whole grains. And make one quarter of your plate whole grains, too!
  7. Quiz: How Well Do You Know Whole Grains? Make a fun table full of various whole grains without their packages and see who can guess which ones they are accurately!

Our All About Whole Grains Color Handout Tearpad is a scaled down version of the poster – perfect for people to take home. The Go For the Whole Grain Color Handout Tearpad covers serving sizes and whole grain substitutions, including how much fiber they provide.

Use our Whole Grain materials in counseling or classes on:

  • Weight control
  • Diabetes management
  • Cholesterol education
  • Cardiac rehab
  • General wellness
  • Healthy cooking
  • Nutrition for families and children
  • Nutrition for older adults
  • Grocery shopping
  • School breakfast and lunch
  • MyPlate
  • and more!

And don’t forget about our Go For the Whole Grain stickers and bookmarks! How about visiting the school cafeteria one day and giving a sticker to every student who has a whole grain on their tray or in their lunch box?

What’s Your Word for 2020?

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, choose a word for 2020. This word or phrase becomes your theme for the year. It guides you through making decisions, facing challenges, and just living your day to day life. (For a good overview of the word of the year concept, check out OneWord365.com.)

Why not have your clients or students come up with their own health and wellness word for the year? Help them decide what they want to focus on, then come up with a word or phrase that will remind them of this intention. Here are some ideas:

  • Ten: One of the best words – or numbers – for people trying to lose weight is ten, because a 10% weight loss brings big health benefits. If losing 10 percent is overwhelming, choose ‘five’ as your word. Resources:
  • Cook: Home-cooked meals are usually healthier than restaurant meals, but lots of people are in the drive-thru or delivery habit. Another phrase for this could be ‘eat at home.’ Resources:
  • Plants: A plant-based diet is one of our hot topics for 2020, and for good reason. Keep your clients focused on choosing more fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Resources:
  • Water: Choosing water as the word for the year can help your clients kick the soda habit. It can also help their wallets! Resources:
  • Whole: This word encompasses a lot when it comes to nutrition. It can remind clients to eat more whole grains, whole fruits (instead of juice), and whole, non-processed foods. Resources:

Your word for the year won’t work if you don’t think about it every day. So have your clients put it everywhere!

  • Use sticky notes to post the word throughout your house, office, and car.
  • Cut out the word from magazines and make a collage.
  • Use your word as a screen saver.
  • Set it up so that your word comes to you in an email or reminder once a day.
  • Put index cards with your word on them in your purse, wallet, desk drawer — anywhere you’ll see it frequently.

What’s YOUR word for 2020? Let us know!

 

 

 

3 Activity Ideas to Boost Whole Grain Knowledge

Whole grains are often great for health, yet most Americans consume too many refined grains and miss out on the benefits of whole grains… while adding excess empty calories to their eating patterns.

To help your audience learn about whole grains, their health benefits, and how to incorporate them into a healthful eating pattern, I’ve put together a few engaging activities just for you!

(And, if you’re really patient, you’ll find a PDF handout hidden in the post as well).

Take a look…

Activity #1: Whole Grain Shopping Sleuths

Gather a few packages of foods that have varying whole grain content. Divide participants into groups and give each group a collection of those packages. Have the groups line up their foods in terms of most to least whole grains per serving.

Once everyone has finished making their selections, review their work as a class.

Highlight the importance of using the Nutrition Facts label to evaluate whole grain content and draw everyone’s attention to which words to look for in ingredient lists. Make a note of front-of-package claims as well. Was anyone fooled by statements that hint being wholesome but are not whole grain, like, “100% Stone Ground,” “Multigrain,” “Honey Wheat,” etc? Explain the importance of 100% whole grains. Note that stone ground can be whole grain but you should check the ingredient list to be sure.

If time permits, have the groups combine to line up all the product packages from most to least whole grains. How did everyone apply the knowledge from your discussion?

Activity #2: Whole Grain Swaps

This is a brainstorming activity, so all you’ll need is a space to write down people’s ideas (a whiteboard or giant notepad works especially well) along with a writing utensil. Much of the information that could help your clients internalize this lesson can also be found in the Go for the Whole Grain poster, though it is not required.

Discuss the health benefits of whole grains. How do they impact blood sugar? Heart health? General nutrient intake?

Once your group seems to have a solid grasp of the importance of whole grains to a balanced eating pattern, move on to common grain foods. Which contain whole grains? Which contain refined grains?

Finally, to get to the crux of the matter, list common refined grain foods on your writing surface. What substitutions can people make in order to consume fewer refined grains and more whole grains? Discuss the ideas as a class, writing out compelling switches as you encounter them.

Activity #3: Whole Grain Quiz

Distribute copies of the handout How Well Do You Know Whole Grains? Have participants take the quiz individually (this makes a great icebreaker or take-home assignment too), and then bring everyone together to go over the answers, addressing any questions they might have about the information provided. If you’d like, you can distribute prizes like these whole grain stickers to people who got the most correct answers.

Top 10 Foods for Better Health

A new study out of Boston suggests that focusing on 10 specific foods in your diet may cut the risk of premature death from diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease by almost half.

The author of the study, Renata Micha from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University says that about 45% of US deaths in 2012 could be traced to eating too little or too much of certain foods. Her study draws information from previous research done using National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys from 1999 to 2002 and 2009 to 2012. The researchers used food diaries of participants and found that 318,656 deaths out of 702,308 from stroke, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes were based on people eating too much or too little of the following 10 foods or food elements…

Too Much:

  • Sodium
  • Unprocessed red meat
  • Processed red meat (sausage, bacon, hot dogs)
  • Soybean and corn oil
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks

Too Little:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Seafood with omega-3 fatty acids

For example, consuming too much sodium was linked with 66,508 deaths. Poor nut and seed intake was associated with 59,374 deaths. Processed read meat intake was associated with 57,766 deaths, while 54,626 deaths were linked with inadequate fatty fish intake. Minimal vegetable and fruit intake was linked to 53,410 and 52,547 deaths, respectively. Sugar-sweetened drinks were tied to 51,695 deaths.

Demographics also made a difference. For example, men and women fared differently in the study. Women were less likely than men to die from poor diets and younger people were at higher risk than older individuals. Hispanics and blacks had higher risk than whites, and individuals with less education were at higher risk than more educated people.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease decreased by 25% between the two survey periods because of improvements in dietary habits such as eating more polyunsaturated fats, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and fewer sugar-sweetened drinks.

Consumers can reduce their risk for chronic disease by adopting one dietary habit at a time (such as eating fatty fish twice per week or choosing water over sweetened beverages) and then moving on to another positive habit once they’ve mastered the first. This helps build confidence and motivate people to continue building healthful eating patterns to reduce their risk of chronic disease.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

References:

  1. Micha, Renata, PhD, Penalvo Jose, PhD, Cudhea PhD, et. al. Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States. JAMA. 2017;317(9):912-924
  2. Mueller, Noel T., PhD, MPH, Appel, Lawrence J. Attributing Death to Diet Precision Counts. JAMA. 2017;317(9):908-909.

Whole Grains for Health Gains

Look at any popular magazine these days and you’ll find at least one diet that bashes grains. Whether it’s Paleo, the Military diet, or the “whole 30”, someone, somewhere is out there trying to get you to eat a bun-less sandwich. But what they may not realize is that anti-carb diets are a thing of the past.

Grains are back, and for good reason.

A recent study from Tufts published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects consuming whole grains over refined grains burned more calories and absorbed fewer calories overall. In addition, glucose tolerance was improved in whole grain consumers.1 Other studies have shown lower rates of obesity and cancer in individuals eating a diet containing whole grains.2

Susan Roberts, a professor of nutrition at Tufts and author of instinctdiet.com believes that Americans eat too many refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, pastries, and desserts, which contribute to overweight and obesity.3 Lauri Wright, an assistant professor in community and family health at the University of South Florida notes that whole grains are higher in antioxidants, which contribute to long-term good health.3

Rather than comparing weight changes in subjects, the Tufts study evaluated resting metabolic rate and energy (calorie) content in stool at the end of a 6-week study. Participants were, on average, 50+ years of age with a BMI of 25.6, which is slightly above normal but not overweight. Participants in both groups consumed about 2550 calories per day, but one group had 830 calories in whole grains while the other had 830 calories from refined grains. The study found that the whole grain eaters burned 40 calories more than their refined grain counterparts and lost ~50 calories in stool, resulting in a 92-calorie deficit. If this deficit is carried over for a year, a 5.5 lb weight loss could be achieved. 1 A previous 2011 Harvard study of over 12,000 subjects and whole grains supported these results. 2

Most Americans miss the mark on fiber intake, consuming a mere 15 grams per day. The subjects in the Tufts study that ate whole grains ate about 39 grams of fiber daily versus 21 grams in the refined carbohydrate group. 1 Researchers believe the feeling of fullness in whole grain consumers affects the brain’s ability to regulate metabolism. Because your brain does not perceive that you are conserving energy, metabolism is not reduced. This is good news for carb lovers.

Making the switch to whole grains can be easy. Swap brown rice or quinoa for white rice, or whole wheat pasta and bread for white bread or pasta. Try bran or wheat-based cereals in place of corn or rice.

Whole grains are the new black.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

References:

  1. Karl, J Philip, Meydani, Mohsen, Barnett, Junaidah, et. al., Substituting whole grains for refined grains in a 6-wk randomized trial favorably affects energy-balance metrics in healthy men and postmenopausal women. American J of Clinical Nutrition, February 8, 2017, doi: 10.3945/?ajcn.116.139683.
  2. Mozaffarian, D, MD, Dr PH, Hao, Tao MPH, Rimm, Eric B, Willett, Walter MD, Dr PH, Hu, Frank MD, PhD. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and long term weight gain in men and women. N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2392-2404. June 23, 2011.
  3. Burfoot, Amby. Despite the anti-carb diet fads, whole grains are still good for you. The Washington Post: 20 March 2017.

Resources:

Help your audience get more whole grains each day with these accessible and memorable resources…