How Can I get Use to Whole Grains?

Q: Help!  I don’t like whole grains, so how can I get used to them to take advantage of their health benefits?

A: First, kudos to you for seeking out ways to increase whole grains in your diet!  Whole grains are an excellent way to add nutrients such as folate, B vitamins, fiber and more to your plate, not to mention a richer flavor.  Second, you are not alone in needing to develop a taste for whole grains before you can fully enjoy them.  If you’ve had limited experience with whole grains in the past, it can take time and some creativity to introduce them to your taste buds.

If you’d like to start adding more whole grain health benefits to your diet, here are some tips for slowly transitioning to get used to whole grains:

At restaurants:

  • Substitute whole grain pasta for refined pasta in your favorite pasta dishes– rich tomato-based sauces, a variety of flavorful vegetables and a touch of cheese can help tame the whole grain flavor while you’re getting used to it.
  • Opt for whole wheat bread on sandwiches – like the pasta, the variety of fresh and flavorful ingredients in your sandwich will distract your taste buds from the whole wheat bread until they can truly appreciate the added whole grain flavor.
  • Share a new whole grain dish with friends and family at the table – dishes like tabbouleh, wild rice and more can be a good option to sample along the way, helping you discover new ways to enjoy whole grains in the future.

At home:

  • Replace a portion of the flour in recipes with whole wheat flour – start small and gradually increase the amount of whole wheat flour in relation to the white flour.
  • Add cooked grains like brown rice or barley to soups and salads.
  • Dress up your yogurt with uncooked oats for whole grain crunch.
  • Use a mix of whole wheat and refined versions of pasta in recipes – gradually working up to all whole wheat pasta.

Find more ideas for adding whole grains to your diet on  What other strategies are you using to get used to whole grains?

Restaurants can be a great resource for whole grain recipe ideas.  Here are just a few of the dietitian-recommended menu choices you can find at Healthy Dining restaurants nationwide: