Increasing Whole Grains In Your Child's Diet

Did you know that September is whole grains month? For some, grains are something not included in the diet due to desire to decrease carbohydrates. Many people consume the wrong kind of carbohydrates and do not focus on utilizing whole grains in their diet. Whole grains can be an important part of your child’s diet.

What is a whole grain?

A product is whole grain if the entire kernel has been used to make the product. The parts of the grain kernel are the bran, endosperm, and germ. The bran is the outside layer and it contains antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber. The germ is the center of the grain and it holds multiple B vitamins, protein, minerals, and fats. When making refined grains the bran and germ are removed, leaving the endosperm. The endosperm provides energy to the young wheat plant and has starchy carbohydrates, protein, some minerals and some healthy fats.

Why eat whole grains?

Each part of the grain contains different nutrients, which is why it is good to include whole grains as a regular part of our diets. There are also many health benefits to whole grains which include decreased cancer risk, heart disease, and diabetes.

Whole grains also contain increased amounts of fiber, which can help make slow digestion and make one feel fuller longer.

Refined grains only contain part of the grain kernel; therefore, the full nutrition benefits are not present.

How do you know if something is a good source of whole grains?

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The best rule for determining if a product is a good source of whole grains is to see if whole grain is listed as the first ingredient. Examples of grains that are whole grains are whole wheat flour, whole grain oats, brown rice, quinoa, and barley to name a few. For a more extensive list of whole grains please go to the Whole Grains Council website.

Some products may contain a whole grain stamp. The stamp will state if the product is 100% whole grain, 50% whole grain, or that is contains at least 8 grams of whole grain.

How much whole grains do kids need?

Overall, it is recommended that ½ of your grains come from whole grains. The number of grain servings needed per day depends upon the child’s age.

Recommended total grain servings per day for kids (at least ½ should come from whole grains)

Age                                                  Recommended Range

2-3 years                                        1 ½ - 3 ounces

4-8 years                                        2 ½- 5 ounces

9-13 years (girls)                         3-5 ounces

14-18 (girls)                                  3-6 ounces

9-13 (boys)                                    3-6 ounces

14-18 (boys)                                 4-8 ounces

Examples of foods that count as 1 ounce of grains are 1 regular slice of whole grain bread, 5 whole grain crackers, ½ of a whole wheat English muffin, ½ cup of cooked oatmeal, 3 cups of popcorn, and 1 small whole grain tortilla (6 inches).

Tips for getting more whole grains for your child

·       Use whole grain tortillas for quesadillas

·       Mix rolled oats into pancake and muffin batter

·       Change to whole wheat bread for sandwiches

·       Use whole grain pasta-If your family has concerns about the texture mix whole grain pasta with regular pasta to start.

·       Utilize popcorn as a snack

·       Make baked good with whole wheat flour-see my recipe for Chocolate Avocado muffins

·       Add grains like quinoa, sorghum, and barley to soups

There are so many possibilities to get whole grains into a child’s diet. In the age of people fearing carbohydrates I believe that families need to give whole grains a chance to nourish their child.

For more information on whole grains:

Whole Grains Council

My Plate

For a recipe that includes whole grains that I guarantee your family will love check out my recipe for Chocolate Avocado Muffins

Family HealthAmy ReedComment