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As I have crisscrossed the country, I have noticed a common theme in our restaurants and cafes. I like to call this “the great grain giveaway.” People seem to like the free bread and/or chips, so restaurants have certainly obliged with the focus on drawing more patrons.

It seems so normal now that wherever you go, there is a set expectation to receive a free grain product. Consequently, when I speak to folks about nutrition, I hear the dreaded questions/statements, “Do I have to give up my chips and salsa? I thought salsa was pretty good for you. I have to quit bread? It really fills me up.”

How Free Grain Products Affect Your Body

Here is the down and dirty truth about this very common habit of ingesting free grain products. Let’s begin with the glycemic index (GI). The GI is a numerical scoring system (normally 1-100) to show how much glucose appears in the blood after eating a carbohydrate-containing food – the higher the number, the greater blood sugar response. Eating foods in the high GI category will most certainly lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

With that said, you will find it hard to swallow (I really mean that literally in a sense) that white bread is actually higher on the GI index than table sugar. Even wheat bread classifies as a high GI food. And corn chips are certainly a high GI food as well (not to mention a host of other very dangerous preservatives and chemicals).

A Huge Cultural Problem

Additionally, we probably most likely agree that “the great grain giveaway” is mostly enjoyed in the evening, a time in which we should be drastically reducing ALL carbohydrate consumption. As you can see, we have a huge cultural problem.

You might ask if the old Food Pyramid, suggesting we eat multiple servings of wheat and grain products, is meaningless. Let me simply say, it was flat out in error and did not serve our nutritional or health needs well. In examining the steady rise in our obesity rates, we must come to the conclusion that multiple servings of grains are NOT WORKING for us.

A Few Healthy Alternatives

If you do choose to eat grains, seek out sprouted grain (e.g. Ezekiel Bread), rye kernel, oat bran, or pumpernickel breads. These are all considered low GI foods. Avoid the chips all together. If you will utilize the glycemic index and stick with foods in the low to moderate GI categories, you will see beneficial (possibly astounding) results in your health.

Get your Glycemic Index Food Chart