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  • Gila Daman, MS, RDN, LD, CDE

The Whole Truth on Whole Grains


Earlier this week, I spent a few days posting about delicious and nutritious whole wheat products on my Instagram account (@gila_health_and_wellness). The irony is the very term “whole wheat” or “whole grain” is working against itself. Children, and even adults, hear that term and most of the time turn away; if not observably, at least internally.

In what other case do we call something “whole” when it is its obvious state? Is this not repetitive? Isn’t it suggested in the very word itself? For example, if one college student is speaking to another about classes, they ask, “How is your semester going?” Not, “How is your whole semester going?” Or, if a middle school boy has a crush on a girl and picks a flower from a field to give to her, he gives her a “rose,” not a “whole rose.” Or, if you are at a friend’s house on a lovely hot summer day and you want a juicy, refreshing fruit, you ask for a “peach,” not a “whole peach.”

If for some odd reason the boy gives the girl half of the rose, it is referred to as “half a flower,” and if before going to your friend’s house, you grabbed an ice pop and weren’t that hungry, you may request “half a peach.”

So why are treating whole grain products any differently? Whole grain products are merely the natural, whole form and should thus be called “flour,” “bread,” etc.

By referring to it with this introductory qualifying phrase we are taking the first step toward making it sound alien, different, odd.

And to make matters worse, white flour products are called “enriched,” thus building their reputation up instead of baring the truth about their incomplete nature. True, the product is enriched, but that is only because it was first stripped of several essential vitamins and minerals.

Now, I am not implying that we go and change the way we label all food products. This was more of a philosophical exploration. But in my own home I am considering experimenting with this idea. Instead of highlighting the whole wheat nature of bread, pasta, etc, I want to see what would happen if I simply refer to it as what it is. What I would call the partial version (aka enriched wheat products), I haven’t quite decided. I would likely call them by their regular name as well, such as “pasta.” The point is not to hate on the enriched wheat products, but rather to take away that extra label which makes us feel consciously or subconsciously alienated by whole grain items; to allow whole grain products to be what they are: the natural, unprocessed, come-as-you-are flour, bread, pie crust, etc.


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