Who can resist the aroma, texture and flavour of fresh-baked bread?
Unfortunately, bread sometimes has been viewed as a villain in the world of weight management and weight loss. Some fad diets completely cut out grains and lots of nutrients in the process.
Can we gain weight by regularly eating more calories from bread than we burn through our body’s basic needs, plus our physical activity? Yes, of course. We gain weight by eating food or drinking beverages with more calories than our body burns.
Most of us underestimate the amount of food we eat. Theoretically, just 100 extra calories per day from any food can add 10 pounds to our frame in a year. However, we can adjust the consequences of eating too much by adding physical activity to our lifestyle.
Grains play a major role in a healthful diet. They provide complex carbohydrates, which fuel our body for physical activity and they provide fuel for our brain. Grains provide B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid, along with minerals including iron, magnesium and selenium.
Think about your grain food choices. Do you consume a wide variety of grain foods, such as oatmeal, barley, brown rice and whole wheat pasta? Are half of your grain choices whole grain foods? Whole grains provide fibre and a wide array of phytochemicals (plant chemicals) with health benefits.
On average, sedentary women and older adults need about five ounces of grain foods daily. Children, teenage girls, active women and sedentary men need about seven ounces daily. Teenage boys and physically active men need about 10 ounces of grain foods daily.
One ounce of grain may be less than you think. One ounce from the grain group equals one slice of bread, one-half English muffin, one-half bun, five to seven crackers, one pancake about 4.5 inches in diameter, one-half cup cooked pasta or rice or one-half cup cooked cereal.
Try this exercise. How many ounces of grain did you eat yesterday? Did you have cereal or toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch or crackers for a snack? Compare your grain food choices to the recommended amount for your gender and level of physical activity. How did you do?
– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L.R.D., is a North
Dakota State University Extension Service food and
nutrition specialist and associate professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.