Technically, grains as we commonly know it are seeds of the grass family. Unlike fresh produce like fruits or vegetables, grains can be harvested, dried and stored for a long period. For this course, grains would cover cereals like rice, wheat etc., millets and legumes (pulses & beans)
The easy availability of grains has made the use of grains ubiquitous. As a result, most of us are eating grains three times a day. Also we are primarily eating one or two grains only. For eg: Do you know which grains you consume when you eat these - roti, naan, bhature, biscuits, bread, pasta, cake, muffin?
The answer is wheat.
It is used as the base for these products in the form of aata, maida or sooji.
Thus, our diets have a high proportion of grains & a low proportion of fresh food consisting of fruits or vegetables.
Consider these about grains:
Grains are complex food items and are relatively difficult to digest (in comparison to fruits & vegetables).
They are much less in water content as compared to fruits & veggies.
They are heavy to digest.
Most grains available in the market are processed and refined.
Eating grains as our main meals leaves out less scope for adding fruits & vegetables to our diet.
While most of us would understand and agree with the above-mentioned points it may be less practical for most of us to completely rule out grains from our plates! Here are some points to keep in mind when including grains into your diet:
MODERATION - Reduce quantity. For example, instead of eating grains for all the three meals, reduce it to two or one meal. You can also go grain-free on some days of the week.
RIGHT QUALITY - Choose whole grains VS refined (Brown/red rice vs white rice, whole flours) Sprout them; grains can be soaked overnight and sprouted. This not only improves digestibility but also improves nutrient availability. Try sprouted ragi.
DIVERSITY - Choose from a wide variety of millets and pulses available. Millets need less water for growing. Since there are many varieties of millets grown regionally, they are hardy and resistant to pest attacks. They are less refined and have a superior nutritional profile. Millets can be used in baking too.
RIGHT COMBINATION - Avoid mixing grains to decrease complexity. A multigrain bread or roti takes more time to digest than a single grain roti. Club with raw vegetables to make them easier to digest.