I don’t really eat much grains. That means I don’t really eat much breads, cereal, pasta, rice, quinoa and so on. It has become a habit now and I don’t ever consider having rice with my dinner or prepare a pasta dish. And when I think of those things now, it just doesn’t make sense to me to eat those bland things. You really need to add flavour to them, and nutrition. Pasta and rice on it’s own sound pretty boring to me, but a meaty pasta sauce full of vegetables and tasty chunks of meat? I could eat that for dinner every day (minus the pasta)!
But, sometimes you remember that this is not what most people find ‘normal’ and they might look at you a little funny when you say no to rice or skip the bread that is served with your eggs and bacon for breakfast. So, i figured it’s time to go back and look at why I am skipping the grains again. Because the common food pyramid still has a vide range of grains as a base for a heart healthy diet. I think they say between 6 and 10 serves of grains a day. That is a shed load of grains. Do we really need this or do they do more harm than good? Let’s have a look.
Did we start eating grains because we really wanted to and felt amazing when doing so, or did we do it because we had to? Was it a survival strategy? All grains are quite energy dense and cheap. Most people can afford big quantities of grains, but not so big quantities of meat and eggs. Is that why this has become such a staple in our diet?
Grains are all seeds in the grass family. Wheat, oats, corn, millet, spelt, chia and so on. We all know the purpose of a seed is reproduction (last time I checked we don’t reproduce so our babies can be eaten?) and the seeds are made to survive anything! And when I say anything, I mean anything. You know when you eat corn. Have you ever checked your ‘you know what’ the day after? You’ll find whole pieces of corn in there. Because the seed (the corn kernel) is made to survive being eaten by an animal, moved away from the mother plant and then being sown somewhere else to grow into a new plant. Makes sense? How many nutrients do you think you will get out of a seed that can’t be broken down in your stomach and intestines? My guess is; not many.
Whole grains are made up of the endosperm (carbohydrate and prolamins), the bran (fibrous protective layer, contains phytates (phytic acid – anti nutrients that will not allow your body to absorb the goodness of the grain… interesting right?) and is removed during milling) and then you have the germ (contains the reproductive material and is also removed during milling). So after the milling you’re left with not much fibre, vitamins and minerals, but most of the calories from carbohydrates (this sound mystically like empty calories). These refined grains are then made into white bread, instant oatmeal, snack foods and so on, and quite often mixed with sugar, fat and salt. And most likely no protein (and the grain in itself has no complete protein). This sounds to me like junk.
You can of course choose to eat whole grains instead of refined grains, but then as mentioned above, can you actually get to the nutrients? And more importantly, there is nothing healthy and amazing in a grain that you cannot get from fruit and vegetables. Nothing. Not even fibre. There is plenty of fibre elsewhere (like in a pear, a medium size pear has more fibre than a cup of oatmeal). And did you know that we don’t really need that much fibre anyway? It’s a little overrated!
Then we could of course talk about gluten and celiac disease. But I won’t go there! Too much too say i too little time. I do however find it interesting how more and more people develop gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Don’t you?
So, the question is; do we need grains to thrive or has it been used as a survival strategy in cultures and areas where better food hasn’t been available at the time? Have we started thinking of grains as heart healthy because marketing says so or because research shows so? I wonder how you would feel if you cut out all grains for 30 days? Maybe Feb Fast should be a grain fast this year? I challenge you to think outside of the breakfast box and choose differently and then you can make your own educated decision afterwards. What say you? I say ay! Grain Free Feb, give it a go!
As usual I’m just here to educate you, challenge your beliefs and inspire you to try something different. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then that’s of course ok. It’s always up to you what you do with your body. Just promise me one thing; always be good to it, you only have one! For the rest of your life. No amount of Botox can save you from a body poisoned by bad food and zero exercise for a lifetime.
Awesome Ashild x