In the ongoing struggle to lose weight, one of the biggest bangs for the least amount of effort is switching from white to whole wheat. Although it might not seem like a big deal when you're hurriedly pulling items off the shelf at the grocery store, once you put it in your mouth - to your body, the difference is as great as night and day.
Things that are made from white flour such as white bread, bagels, pasta, pizza dough, english muffins, rolls, crackers, cakes, muffins, cookies, biscuits and pie crusts, etc. are so damaging to your body, it's like eating table sugar. That's how your body processes it.
White flour has a number of different names. On the package and in recipes it's referred to as, "all-purpose" flour. And it's often called "enriched" flour.
Boy, is that misleading. The reason they call it that is because before they "enrich" it, they STRIP it of anything that's good. And believe me, when they "enrich" it they don't nearly make-up for what they took out.
The reason we have white flour is because someone figured out a brilliant way to create softer, better-tasting bread. You take the whole wheat berry, which consists of three parts: the bran, the germ and the starch, and just get rid of the two most nutritious parts - the bran and the germ.
So the only thing leftover is the starch. That's the only part of the wheat berry that's in white flour. The starch. So that's terrible. It's obviously unbalanced, and clearly not the way God intended us to eat bread.
Here's the short version of why it's so bad: the starch is digested way too fast, which causes insulin levels to spike. Insulin, as you probably know, is a hormone, and when it functions improperly, it is linked to a whole array of physical problems. When insulin levels are disturbed, it throws-off your whole body and everything has to compensate.
What results is a rapid increase, then a rapid decrease in blood sugar levels. Long term, this affects weight gain, diabetes, even your appearance.
On the other hand, whole wheat flour, as the name suggests, uses the entire wheat berry. So what happens when you eat the whole berry is it's digested slowly so your insulin levels stay normal and your body functions are balanced. When you eat whole wheat flour you stay fuller, longer.
By the way, whole wheat products are great for your digestion and are recommended to the prevention of colon cancer.
Here's the tricky part: you must look for that magic word, "WHOLE." There are many brown products out there and they are labeled things like "wheat bread" or "five-grain" bread. Those products don't use the whole wheat berry. If you want to make sure it's whole wheat, turn-over the item and look at the list of ingredients. You need to see the words "whole wheat flour" as the first ingredient.
And speaking of ingredients, even though a product may be loaded with wonderful whole wheat flour, it may also have in it HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP or some other sweeteners.
Try to get bread without HFCS because many doctors contend it is much worse than even regular sugar. Among other things, it turns straight to fat and doesn't trigger your body's satisfaction gauge the way sugar does, so you always crave more. This is a subject for another blog, but just watch out for other ingredients that could be messing-up your whole wheat bread.
Here's another tricky part: food manufacturers like to make you think their food is healthier than it really is. When it comes to whole wheat products, make sure the ONLY flour that's being used is whole wheat. What you DON'T want to see is "enriched flour" as the second ingredient. This means up to a smidge less than half of the flour in the product could be white flour.
Also, when baking, substitue whole wheat flour for white flour. But note a couple of things: When you do a complete substiution, you'll want to SIFT THE WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR THREE TIMES! Whole wheat flour is denser than white, so you need to fluff it up with some air.
Also, although it's not made with flour, the same principles hold true regarding white rice and brown rice. EAT BROWN!!