Are You Getting Enough Grains?

Around the world, breads and grain products are a staple in the diet of many cultures. Breads and grains have been adapted regionally, taking into account ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious beliefs. The form, texture, and taste of grains and breads vary based on the diversity of the culture and where it is prepared.

Barley, rye, and oats can be used alone or mixed with wheat flour. Depending on the region and culture of the area, potatoes, squash, pumpkin, lentils, beans, corn, and/or rice may be prepared as a grist (meal) and used instead of flour. The cooking methods can include baking, frying, grilling, and steaming. In addition, breads and grains can be eaten hot or cold.

Breads and grains that are from around the world can add variety to your meals. Many are good sources of fiber, too. Any additional ingredients such as toppings, sauces, herbs, spices, sweeteners, fruits, vegetables, meats, fats, oil or additional condiments, may add calories to the grain or bread product.

How do you include new kinds of breads and grains into your meal plan?

Many different breads and grains can be found in the meal-planning guide Choose Your Foods – Exchange Lists for Meal Planning. A carbohydrate (carb) choice is a unit of measurement that helps to determine the amount of carbs you are eating. One carb choice equals 15 grams of carbs. For example, one carb choice of rice equals 1/3 cup brown rice. If you eat 1 cup of brown rice, the total amount of carbs is 45 grams. Many different breads and grains are listed below.

You can also look on the food label or bulk bin for the nutrition fact panel to discover how many carbs are in the new bread or grain. Find the amount of Total Carbohydrates listed in grams. Also, look for the serving size. Remember, the portion you eat may be larger than the portion listed on the nutrition label. Measuring your portions of starchy foods every so often can help you to find out “how much” of carbs you are actually eating.

The following are examples of one (1) carb choice of starch from various cultural/ethnic foods:

The following are examples of one (1) carb choice and are also very good sources of fiber and plant-based protein:

The following are examples of bread and starchy foods that equal one (1) carb choice, as well as some additional fat:

Most people need at least six servings every day. Younger and more active people may need 9-11 servings. Give some thought to what you add to or put on these foods if you are concerned about the amount of calories and/or fat in your diet.

The following is an example of what happens to calories by the addition of jam, and then jam and butter to more typical frybread serving of the whole piece:

Dr. Eric A. Orzeck is in the private practice of endocrinology in Houston, Texas. He is a fellow of the American College of Endocrinology and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Orzeck has been a certified diabetes educator since 1989 and has served on the Board of Directors of The National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. He is currently on the Board of Directors of AACE and is Chair of the AACE Socioeconomics & Member Advocacy Committee.