How to Add Whole Grains to Your Diet

The easiest way to eat more whole grains is to make a few switches in your diet, such as swapping out white bread and rice for whole wheat bread and brown rice.

Try these tips:

  1. Add grains like barley and bulgur wheat to soups, stews, salads, and casseroles to add texture.
  2. When you bake breads or muffins, instead of white flour use half whole wheat flour and half oat, amaranth, or buckwheat flour. You can also use these whole-grain flours in pancakes and waffles.
  3. Instead of having crackers for a snack, eat popcorn, which is a whole grain. Just skip the butter and salt. Unsweetened whole-grain cereal makes another good snack option.
  4. Make quinoa your side dish instead of rice. You can also use quinoa as a coating for shrimp and chicken instead of flour or breadcrumbs.

Read Labels Carefully

 Finding whole-grain foods in your supermarket can be tricky. Some foods that appear to contain whole grains really don’t. You need to look carefully at food labels. Don't be fooled by:

  • Terms like "enriched." Enriched wheat contains only part of the grain.
  • Foods labeled "containing whole grain," "made from whole grain," or "multigrain." They may not be 100% whole grains. Look for "whole grain" as the first ingredient listed.
  • The food's color. For example, bread may be brown only because it contains added ingredients, like molasses.

How Much Is Too Much?

Even though whole grains are healthy, you don’t want to eat unlimited amounts. How much of these grains you can eat depends on how well you're managing your blood sugar.

A good guide is to eat about three servings of whole grains each day.

Examples of one whole-grain food serving:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat pasta

Ask your doctor or a dietitian about how to fit whole grains into your diet. Together you can design a plan that fits your tastes, and helps you gain better control over your blood sugar.

Nicholas Arensdorf - Registered Dietitian/Assistant Dietary Manager, is open to seeing patients for all of their nutritional and dietary needs.  For an appointment he can be reached by phone 641-469-4245 or