Congratulations on completing the first week of the challenge! Hopefully you’re feeling great, ready for longer classes, and have started a lifelong love affair with greens. As I mentioned in week one, “crowding out” is a powerful tool for cleaning up your diet. Here’s a little bit more about how it works:
- Add Healthy Food. The more healthy food you eat, the less room there is for anything else. If possible, you’ll eat healthy food before you eat unhealthy food. For example, you might have oatmeal for breakfast and wait to see if you still want a donut. As time goes on, you’ll find you want the donut less and less.
- No “Bad Food” Lists. When people are overly restrictive with themselves they’re bound to fall off the wagon, which is why most diets don’t work. If you start by focusing on what you can have rather than what you can’t, you’ll be more likely to make lasting dietary changes.
- Change Your Cravings. One of the primary causes of “bad” cravings is a lack of nutrients in your diet. When you eat plenty of nutrient-dense food, you’ll be less likely to have those types of cravings. Believe it or not, you’ll even start to crave the healthy stuff!
For those of you who missed week one, it’s not too late to start! Click here to read my post, which outlines the first challenge, as well as what to expect for the next few weeks. And now for week two… WEEK TWO: Whole Food, Whole Grains
When you refine a food, part of it is removed – in other words it’s no longer in its natural state. For example, when you remove the outer bran layers from brown rice, you get white rice. Unfortunately, those layers are filled with tons of valuable nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, amino acids, fiber and vitamin E.
Sometimes companies will add nutrients back into a food after refining it. For example, you’ve probably noticed white flour that’s been fortified/enriched with vitamins and minerals. What they’ve added is a synthetic version of what was naturally part of the wheat before it was processed. Unfortunately these synthetic versions are not what you would find in natural food.
There’s also increasing research about how nutrients work together. The delicate system of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in a plant is thrown off balance when one is removed, which can effect how much you’ll get out of eating it.
Finally, whole grains (along with many other whole foods) are digested more slowly than their refined counterparts, which means they’ll keep you full for longer – a very helpful thing when it comes to crowding out!
How to Eat Them
- Explore. You’re probably most familiar with brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal and quinoa. But there are some less common options that are equally nutritions and delicious such as amaranth, barley, bulgur, cornmeal, kamut, millet, rye berries, wheat berries, spelt, and wild rice. A note for those who can’t tolerate gluten, the following grains from that list are not gluten-free: barley, bulgur, kamut, rye berries, wheat berries, spelt. Oats should be certified gluten-free as they’re often processed in the same facilities as wheat.
- Combine. Try mixing grains together for added nutrition and to keep things interesting. For example, my mother recently told me she’s been adding quinoa to her oatmeal in the morning for a little extra protein (fun fact: quinoa has all of the essential amino acids to make it a complete protein).
- Cook Extra. Cooking whole grains can often be time consuming. Doubling the amount you make and keeping the leftovers will save you a ton of time. You can even use the leftovers for breakfast the next morning! Keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days, or the freezer for a few months.
- Use Them In… salads, soups, stews and baked goods.
- Build-a-Bowl. Use whole grains as a base to build a truly delicious and nutritious meal. Read more about how to do this here.
Week Two Challenge
- Eat whole grains every day.
- Try one type you’ve never had before.
- Continue to eat greens every day.
- Be sure to drink plenty of water! The daily recommendation is half your body weight in ounces.