Why I decided to cut back on bread and white rice and why you might want to too.
No, I’m not “going gluten free”, I’m not “doing the keto diet” or any other restrictive “diet plan”. I’m simply ditching refined grains (temporarily) for the sake of my waistline and my gut health. The thing is, I’ve realized over the past week or so that refined grains have been almost a daily part of my food choices. The reason why this is a cause for concern is because I noticed that I wasn’t feeling like my fully energized, “ready to take on the day and kill it” self.
Instead, I’ve been experiencing low bouts of energy, some bloating, stomach pains, and overall just feeling a little blah. Oh yeah and how can I forget the embarrassing gas- yeah you know the one (we’re all adults here right?) anyway…NOT COOL! Fortunately, with the wealth of nutrition and health information I gathered as a health coach as well as prior experiences and dealing with clients, I’m able to recognize the root cause of these issues and help myself and other women through these issues.
First off, I want to disclaim that both refined and whole grains CAN be part of a healthy diet when taking into consideration everything else you are consuming- and I am not necessarily shunning one over the other. (Unless you are severely intolerant then, I would advise against both for the sake of your health) The most common refined grains are white flour, white rice, and cereals- These are grains that have undergone some type of processing. Now there are different levels of processing ranging from minimally processed in the case of rolled oats to highly processed where the bran and germ which contain all the nutrients, and fiber have been removed like white flour.
Here’s what makes processing so bad…
When grains are highly processed, especially in the form of white flour, their glycemic load is a lot higher causing spikes in blood sugar which trigger the release of insulin (aka the fat storage hormone). This can lead to weight gain especially around the waist. After all, the bran and germ which contain the fiber that slow the release of blood sugar are all gone.
Sweet baked goods made with white flour are twice as dangerous because not only do we have the flour to worry about, but the excess sugar can also lead to unhealthy weight gain and is a known gut disruptor. Here is an article from Harvard nutrition on whole grains that goes in more details.
Now let’s touch on gluten for a second…
The main refined grains I consume and set out to steer clear of were white rice and white flour. Both are high glycemic, but white flour is especially harmful not only because of its effect on glucose levels but also because it contains gluten. Gluten is found in wheat and has been proven to cause gut damage in some more severe than others. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity range everywhere from bloating and heartburn to celiac disease and GI cancers. In my case, I know from experience that this is the culprit behind the stomach pains and bloating. It’s safe to say that keeping white flour at a bare minimum or skipping it altogether has only positive effects.
So what will I be eating instead?
Well whole grains and whole foods. There are so many foods out there that are not only good tasting but also good for our body outside of these popular yet highly processed and refined foods- And here’s a short list just so you get the idea:
Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, oats,
Root and other starchy vegetables: potatoes, yams, squash, peas, corn, etc.
Leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables: spinach, lettuce, arugula, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, etc.
Legumes: chickpeas, beans, lentils, etc.
For a full list of Whole Foods click here to enter your email and get the pdf delivered straight to your inbox.
All in all cutting back on refined grains and instead choosing unprocessed or minimally whole grains (no Cheerios doesn’t count) and more whole foods is a win-win for both managing our waistline, and keeping a healthy gut.