Grains ‘n Pains

I kind of wanted to call this post “Grains are a Pain,” but it wasn’t as pithy and so you got what you got and you’ll just have to deal with it.

Grains are a really weird color sheep, for Weight Watchers. We’re supposed to have some each day, yes. We’re supposed to have some of everything each day, really. But grain-based foods are often really high in points, and, in my experience, RARELY give you any bang for your buck. There are, of course, exceptions (QUINOA FOREVER), but for most of the road, grains are tricky. Bread doesn’t make me feel full — it makes me want more bread. This is problematic for someone who’s working on portion control.


I was on the phone with my mom the other day, and was telling her about how strange it’s been to break my profound carb addiction and be doing well, and then get a taste (literally) of my old goodies. Example: pretzels. I know nothing is bad in moderation and a serving of 17 small pretzels is 3PP. I was really craving them the other day, so I had them. To my despair, eating them didn’t make me feel full or satisfied — it just made me want to eat more of them! I was surprised how just a fifteen minute snack could put me back in a place from which I’ve worked hard to escape. Again, I can’t stress enough that I do know that all things are ok in moderation — and that includes pretzels! But man, I wish I could put into words how intensely I wanted more of them after having that 3PP portion. It was unnerving. When I eat my fruits, veggies, green smoothies and soups I always end up feeling satisfied — not “gut busting full,” but definitely comfortable and content. I’ve got more than enough energy. All is well.

But one serving of pretzels, and I was that carb-eyed monster I’ve been trying to outrun.

I feel like processed carbs are the crappy ex-girlfriend who’s totally not any good for me, but every time I see her, I end up weak in the knees. I KNOW it’s not a healthy or positive situation — yet there I am. Willing to go back for more.

So carbs — bread-based carbs, anyway — are hard for me. They’re hard for a lot of people. They’re why so many people love the Atkin’s diet, even though I’m pretty sure there’s NO way for that diet to be sustainable. And it’s not that I eat zero carbs throughout the day, I’d like to add: there are carbs in my fruit and veggies, my yogurts, my flax seed, most certainly in my dinners. I just don’t do a lot of BREAD.

Lately, I’ve been trying hard to open myself up to the possibility of having more grains in my life, since I think living without them is a little boring and plus they’re fun to experiment with. (I hate that that last sentence ended with a preposition, but I’m tired, and still sick, and ain’t got time to go rewording myself all day.) That’s why I’ve been working on learning about quinoa. My next exploration? Oats. This weekend, my mom made the most ridiculously delicious oatmeal and I’m gonna post the recipe on here later today. Oats are high in points, but they’re not (to my understanding) a “useless” grain like sandwich breads often are. I think I want to try to work them in more often.


Fellow Weight Watchers out there: How do you deal with carbs? I get 28 PP a day. Not much room for screwing around with bagels or sandwich bread. Which grains DO you eat? How often? How do you prepare them? Are there other ones out there besides quinoa that have anything to offer me? Rice, for example, offers NOTHING except grain-ness.


I want to eat a fully balanced, nutritious diet. I also don’t want to eat useless crap. I believe there MUST be a middle ground about grains and I want to know what it is! Denying myself the majority of a food group isn’t gonna help me in the long run: I’ll be like every failed Atkins person who, upon eating sandwiches for lunch again, gains back every pound.


Advice is welcome! Help me befriend grainy carbohydrates in a meaningful and healthy way!


2 thoughts on “Grains ‘n Pains

  1. Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred fuel so it’s only natural that the body craves them. If we starve ourselves of carbohydrate, we are likely to end up craving simple carbs like white breads and cookies because they are quickly digestible and give us energy ASAP. I find that most of my clients that come to me that are “addicted to sugar” make it a point to avoid carbs at all costs- no breads, pastas, etc. so by the middle of the day they are dying for a Snickers bar. To combat this, you have to incorporate complex carbs into your day– I suggest at every meal. The best ones are the ones with one ingredient– such as whole oats, quinoa, millet, barley, amaranth, brown rice and all the other ancient grains. Some bread products, cereals and cereal bars can be good as well. Look for the ones that have the word WHOLE first in the ingredients. Don’t be fooled by words like wheat and multi-grain on the front of the label, this does not equal whole grain. If the first word in the ingredients isn’t whole, put it back. If sugar or one of sugars sneaky names (cane syrup, corn syrup, anything ending in -ose) are listed within the first four ingredients, put it back on the shelf. If the ingredient label is 30 items long and you can’t pronounce half of them, put it back on the shelf. If you’re brain doesn’t recognize it as food, neither will your body.

    I’m a registered dietitian and own my own weight loss practice, so I’m not just some nutrition nut spouting off my two cents. I saw your post and figured I could give you a few pointers that might help. Good luck on your weight loss journey and keep up the good work!

    1. This is really helpful! I’ve been trying to find that happy medium, and darn it, it’s tricky. This might be a silly question but – I have flax seed a breakfast and lunch. Does that count? I don’t know if seeds are generally part of the carb list. I agree completely about not being deceived by false labels and non natural ingredients! Mostly I just get annoyed because breads, etc never make me feel full and so it feels wasteful to eat them. Is that a common problem?

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