What are whole grains? A lot of people are unclear what types of whole grains are smart choices for their diet. Whole grain cheerios for example, is not going to do what organic brown rice is going to do for you, even though the box advertises whole grains.
One rule of thumb when choosing food in general is to choose the food that comes in the same form as it is found in nature. Cheerios aren’t found on trees! Some great whole grain options are brown rice, millet, kamut, spelt, and quinoa. These are the choices you should make instead of refined carbohydrates, which are stripped of fiber, protein, vitamins, everything. These become binding and constipating whereas whole grains help you keep things moving. White rice for example, is nutritionally deficient. It will leave you feeling full, but not satisfied. It also has a high glycemic index, which means it will raise your blood sugar quickly and then crash. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat white rice, just try to get more brown rice into your diet.
When cooking grains, it’s important to soak them in water. This releases phytic acid, which binds to minerals and inhibits their absorption. Soaking also makes grains easier to digest. Rinsing the grain before you soak it is even better because they are typically stored in large open bins where they’re exposed.
Chewing your grains is very important in order to properly digest them. I’m sure you have experienced this before where you scarf down a big bowl of whole wheat pasta or a large sandwich with whole grain bread and immediately after finishing the meal you are exhausted. This is because you didn’t do enough digesting – chewing – in the mouth; so all your energy was used in your stomach to help the digestive process. Digestion of carbohydrates starts in the mouth, so it’s important to focus your energy there when eating whole grains. Plus, when you chew more, you need less food to feel satisfied and it helps you absorb all the nutrients out of the grain.
The best way to get your whole grains into your stomach is to spice them up! Make them interesting by adding garlic, ginger, onion, toasted sesame oil, gamashio, shoyu, and umeboshi plum vinegar. They don’t have to be bland and boring. Try a lot of different types of grains to figure out which ones your body can digest the best.