Whole grains are an important part of any diet. Whole grains are more nutrient-dense than their refined counterparts. Refined “white” starches have been stripped of fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. Some of the vitamins and minerals are re-fortified into these processed grains, but refined grains remain nutritionally inferior to whole grains. The fiber in whole grains also helps create feelings of satiety, which in turn helps prevent overeating. Many typical kids’ foods are not made with whole grains. However, it’s easier than you think to sneak these healthy whole grains into your child’s daily diet.
Children’s Foods Made with Healthy Whole Grains:
- Whole grain Goldfish
- Whole grain bagels or English muffins
- “White” whole grain bread, or 100% whole wheat
- Multigrain pancakes or waffles
- Whole wheat pasta
- Soft corn tortillas (made with corn, salt, and water)
- Brown rice cakes
- Whole grain cereals (look for those with less than 5 g of sugar per serving and 3+ grams of fiber per serving)
- Cooked quinoa or uncooked oats in meatloaf, meatballs, stuffed peppers, muffins, pancakes, etc
- Multigrain crackers
How to Spot Whole Grains at the Grocery Store:
When at the grocery store, labels can be a bit confusing. There are two ways to tell if a product is truly whole grain. First, look for whole grain as the first ingredient listed on the ingredient list. In other words, look for “whole wheat” or “brown rice.” Second, look for a gold and black, whole grains symbol on the box. Just be sure that your whole grain pick is an otherwise healthy choice; whole grains are only a part of the whole healthy food equation.
For other ways to clean-up your family’s diet, read here for ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your kid’s meals or simple ideas for cooking greens. If you find your family has a hard time transitioning from refined to whole grains, contact a dietitian. They can help brainstorm recipes, come up with creative ways to help increase acceptance, and educate your family on the nutritional benefits of whole versus processed foods.