The holiday season is upon us, and so is the seemingly inevitable weight gain that comes along with the cocktails, the dinner parties and the pies. The good news, if you can call it that, about gaining weight during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is that we are actually gaining less than everyone imagines -- on average we gain about 1 pound (about half a kilogram), rather than the 5-pound (2.3-kilogram) gain that was previously estimated. And the bad? We're not losing that weight once the holiday season passes (not even after we make another New Year's resolution to eat healthier and lose weight this year).
In an effort to celebrate a healthier holiday season this year and get a jump on that New Year's resolution, allow us to introduce you to whole grains: amaranth, whole-grain barley, buckwheat, bulgur, whole-grain corn, flaxseed, millet, whole oats, quinoa, whole rye, sorghum, triticale and wheat berries. Brown and wild rice are also whole grain foods.
Whole grains are grains that still have their bran and germ intact. They are unrefined. White flour, white rice and white bread, among other (yes, probably white) foods, are refined, which means the grains have had their bran and germ removed in the milling process. Refined grains can also be enriched grains, which means that after the bran and germ are removed, some nutrients are added back into the product.
Studies indicate that a diet rich in whole grains and low in refined grains can help you lose weight, especially the hard-to-lose weight around the belly. Eating whole-grain foods may also lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and reduce your risk of having a stroke.
Adding whole grains to your diet, even to your holiday menu, can be as simple as making a few substitutions to your tried-and-true recipes, or as adventurous as switching to a plant-based diet. Let's look at how to infuse your holiday foods with the benefits of whole grains, one course at a time.