More brown, less white

A few years back, I made the choice to stop eating so much white products. After watching shows like Dr. Oz and listening to all my doctors tell me that I need to do something about my eating habits to help lose weight, I thought this was a small start. It’s a small step that can make BIG progress in my opinion.

If you look at a regular diet of an American, it’s filled with processed white flour. The word ‘bleached’ is a scary thing when looking for flour to cook with. The sad part is, white is cheaper than brown. But if you know how to look in the right places, you can get some whole wheat products for a good price. You have to do a little research when you decide to switch because labels can be deceiving.

I’m Asian, so of course…I love my rice. But the doctor told me to stop eating rice, or at least switch to brown rice. My sisters and I have had bad experiences with brown rice from when we were small, but I figured, I’m an adult now and I should be able to handle some brown rice. The first thing  we did was split the rice in half, meaning, half white rice and half brown, just to get us to stop eating so much white rice. This was also to help transition my children from eating all white to seeing some brown in there. Once I got used to it, I started adding a little more brown, maybe a 3-1 ratio of brown to white. Some days it would be all brown. The thing that helped out a lot is my rice cooker because it has a brown rice setting so it can cook the brown rice properly so it’s not hard. My kids now like the taste of the brown rice, or at least, it doesn’t phase them. They’ve become used to either, but my youngest sometimes asks for brown rice instead of white if he hasn’t eaten it for a while. I’ve noticed that when I eat white rice, I don’t feel full and tend to eat more. So brown rice does help with portion control as well. I thought this was a great feeling and I actually started to have more energy throughout the day. So once the brown rice was in my diet, I looked for the rest of the white I needed to take out.

The next thing is bread. I’ve always eaten wheat bread, but I didn’t know the difference between all the different types of wheat breads. Buying just plain wheat bread has no real nutritional value to a point where you might as well eat the white. The point of eating more whole wheat’s is to add the fiber back into your diet. Whole wheat is high in fiber and expands in your stomach, giving you the sensation of being full, and when your brain thinks it’s full, you’re not as hungry and of course you eat less. Whole wheat doesn’t leave you craving more and more all the time. Have you ever had a craving for a hamburger and got one from a fast food place? How many times have you eaten that burger and not feel satisfied to a point where you need more? That’s what white (along with saturated fat) does to your brain, your body may be satisfied, but the fats and the white wheat gives you an addictive ‘high’ so to say and you end up craving more and more food until your mind feels it’s satisfied. So now when I went to the store, I tried looking for 100% Whole Wheat instead of just wheat. If you can find bread with double fiber, all the better for you because you can get a 2 for 1 thing going on, the only thing about eating whole wheat bread is the texture. This will apply for all whole wheat products. There will be larger chunks and fiber pieces in the food, but just think of these as a good thing.

After that, I took out all my white flour. But I didn’t cut it out completely. When baking with whole wheat flour, it becomes a little tricky. Whole wheat absorbs more liquid then white does so you’ll have to add slightly more liquid when baking or risk having something too dry. I’ve made that mistake before and I’m still looking for that perfect amount. The main thing about flour is that you get it UNBLEACHED. They use the same thing to bleach the flour as we do to bleach our clothes, that’s why it’s called BLEACHED flour. If you must use white flour in a recipe, then please use an all-purpose unbleached blend. But most recipes you can sub white flour for whole wheat flour and it doesn’t make much of a difference in taste, but a little in texture depending on how much of it is required. If needed, the best thing to do is split the difference between unbleached white and whole wheat, this is done mostly with doughs and it helps to keep the texture and elasticity that the bread, pastry or pasta needs. I’ve done it all white and all wheat and there is a difference. The all wheat is tougher and ‘grainier’ but when you add the partial white, it’s not as bad and easier to take.

After switching my flour I did the next thing I love the most, pasta. This is where it gets pretty pricy and you’ll need to read the labels of the packages here too. There are a lot of places that offer whole wheat pasta. My favorite and cheapest is the Pasta Barilla Plus line. Pasta Barilla is a great pasta company and their pasta comes out pretty good. They also offer whole wheat options on most of their pastas (aside from the filled ones). I have even used whole wheat elbow macaroni in Mac Salad. This is a great substitution for your white pasta noodles which I have eaten more of then I do whole wheat pasta. The thing to be careful on this is it’s not made with 100% whole wheat. They’re made from a 50% blend of Semolina flour and whole wheat, which IS better than just plain white. To get something 100% whole wheat, you can make it yourself, but like I said earlier, baking with purely whole wheat is slightly tricky. It’s best to add a little of something else like an unbleached white flour. I’ve been experimenting with other types of flour like tapioca, gluten-free rice, and potato starches and flour to my whole wheat recipes. I feel I came up with some pretty good recipes that my kids approve of, but then again, they’re not that picky.

So I’ve gone through a good first step to take when trying to change your way of eating. But remember, just because it’s healthier for you, doesn’t mean you can stuff your face with it. Always practice good portion control on your whole wheat foods, nothing larger than the palm of your hand. So the foods I exchanged out were:

  • White Rice -> Brown Rice (or majority brown rice mix)
  • White Bread -> 100% Whole Wheat (and/or multi-grain) Bread
  • All-Purpose Bleached Flour -> 100% Whole Wheat Flour and Unbleached All-Purpose
  • White Pastas -> Whole Wheat Pastas (store bought or home-made if you’re brave enough)

These are 4 simple things that we eat a lot of, and just changing them out and cutting out as much white from your diet as possible will start showing on your eventually, on your body and of course how you feel. You’ll have more energy and you won’t feel as tired anymore. I want to challenge you to do this, for at least a month and see how you feel. I’ve been doing these small challenges on myself and my family for almost a year now; some stick and some don’t. You have to decide which one is best for your family; you may not like carbohydrates as much so this wouldn’t really apply to you. I never suggest cutting our carbohydrates from your diet all together because our body needs it to function. So challenge yourself to make a change, start small and see where you can lead from there. And also don’t JUST take my word for it. Do some research on your own on the internet or at your local library. There are a lot of facts out there. Get a 2nd and even 3rd opinion, and even ask your local doctor what you can do. Switching to various other grains as well can also help your body. Try different things out and see what fits you.

In these past few years, I learned that there isn’t a quick way a doing things. Everything starts with something small. I have also leaned there is no such thing as a DIET, but a change in your way of living. You don’t hide the foods you love from yourself because you’re denying your mind the food it’s craving. I’m not a full success story yet, but I’m hoping to grow and change from these experiences and I hope you can do the same too.

*Remember, switching your white to brown doesn’t mean you can eat MORE of that item. Still keep your portion sizes (no bigger than the palm of your hand) and also exercise regularly, 30-60 minutes a day is recommended for adults. You can take it in small sections or you can do it all at once.

Note: As stated in my Disclaimer, I am NOT a professional in food or nutrition nor am I a doctor in any right. I am just someone who has read and watched a lot of informational shows about diets and eating healthy and I’m just relying on what I’ve researched and tested for myself. These are personal opinion from you everyday woman. Please do your own research and consult your doctor before switching your diet completely.

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About eMarie

A typical stay@home mom who works with things around the house.
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