"The Whole Grain Diet Miracle" - Interview With Authors Dr. Lisa Hark & Dr. Darwin Dean

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 1:35pm

The low carb diet craze is over. With each passing day, mounting evidence suggests that the next “diet craze” will be built on sound nutritional principles, with fiber as a key rallying point. In addition to losing weight (and feeling full), people who embrace a high fiber diet also achieve innumerable health benefits. In their new book, The Whole Grain Diet Miracle, Dr. Lisa Hark and Dr. Darwin Dean embrace whole grains as best the foundation of a plan to lose weight and cultivate health. (And you don’t have to starve yourself or count calories!)

Buy The Whole Grain Diet Miracle

At first glance, the U.S. Dietary Guideline that recommends three servings of whole grains per day—totaling 48 grams—seems like a lot. Where can people best incorporate whole grains into their daily diet?
Forty-eight grams does sound like a lot, but three servings is not very hard to get. In fact, a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch made with whole wheat bread totals three servings. Most side dishes for dinner, such as switching brown rice for white rice, provide two servings. Whole grains are very versatile and can be incorporated into all meals, snacks, appetizers, entrees, salads, soups and even desserts, as we have developed in our 50 delicious recipes in the Whole Grain Diet Miracle.

Whole grain vs. refined grain: What’s the difference?
All grains start out whole. Refined grains typically have the bran and germ removed. As a result, many of the vitamins and minerals are lost. Then, during the refining process, some (but not all) of the lost vitamins and minerals are added back in.

The low carb craze has caused many people to avoid whole grains, which they immediately associate with carbs. Is there any validity to this perception?
Whole grains are carbohydrates; however, all carbs are not created equal. Low carb diets have been shown to be effective for short-term weight loss. But research suggests that people who include whole grains in their diet on a regular basis are healthier than those who do not.

Speaking of the low carb craze—what are your thoughts on the impact of the low carb/high protein diet fad?
Many people have lost weight on low carb/high protein diets. However, these diets are difficult to stick to for more than a few months and most people regain the weight they lost when they go off these diets.

In addition to losing weight, what other health benefits will a person derive from TheWhole Grain Diet?
There is strong scientific evidence that those who eat whole grains on a regular basis can reduce their risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

There are many whole grains from which to choose. Are some whole grains better than others?
Some whole grains are more common and easier to find, such as barley, oats, wheat, brown rice, and rye. However, with a little effort many less common grains, such as quinoa, spelt and teff are readily available as well. Certain grains contain more soluble fiber, such as oats and barley, which has been shown to be beneficial for lowering cholesterol.

What role does exercise play in TheWhole Grain Diet?
Regular exercise is recommended in both the “Two-Week Jumpstart Plan” and the “Four-Week Every Day Plan”. Regular exercise is essential to any long-term weight control program.

What are the key factors during the initial “Two-Week Jump Start”?
The key factors in the Two-Week Jumpstart Plan involve drinking enough water because of the increased fiber from whole grains and reducing portion sizes to cut calories. We also discourage alcohol use, since this can be a major source of calories.

Why do you advocate taking multivitamin and calcium supplements during the Two-Week Jump Start?
Multivitamins are recommended during the Two-Week Jumpstart Plan because when calorie intake is limited, it is often difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

Briefly explain the “Four-Week Every Day Menu Stage.”
The Four-Week Every Day Plan is a program that you can stick to on a long-term basis. Whole grains are incorporated into each meal and portions sizes are controlled to allow for continued weight loss.

The book lists a ton of whole grain recipes for every meal of the day. Do you have any personal favorites?
All the recipes are really tasty and easy to make. We especially like these: blueberry buckwheat pancakes, quinoa salad with goat cheese, millet mashers, teff morocan lamb stew, hazelnut oat crisp and the buckwheat brownies.

What liquids are suggested in The Whole Grain Diet?
We mainly advocate drinking water, herbal teas and low-fat or skim milk. We recommend avoiding sweetened beverages.

Dr. Hark, you are the host of The Learning Channel’s show Honey, We’re Killing the Kids. How are we killing our children?
By not teaching them the value of daily exercise and the importance of following a healthy diet. Kids are much too sedentary, they are highly influenced by TV ads, and they are drinking and eating too much sugar and fat (and therefore extra calories).

What are your thoughts on the “obesity epidemic”?
We have gotten ourselves into a terrible mess. Not only are adults increasingly overweight with all the associated medical problems, but now even our children and teenagers are gaining too much weight as they grow and develop. This is a family problem and this is why we address the entire family in Honey We’re Killing the Kids. Obesity is also an issue for our entire society to address.

Eating out appears to be a mainstay of American culture. How can people follow TheWhole Grain Diet and still dine out frequently?
We recommend asking for brown rice when eating out in Asian restaurants, whole grain and rye breads at delis, whole grain side dishes on salad bars for lunch and dinner, and whole grain dishes in upscale restaurants.

What is the “Whole Grain Stamp” and how will it help consumers? The Whole Grain stamp was developed by the food industry to help consumers identify foods that are good sources of whole grains. The stamp is under revision. Check with the Whole Grains Council.

What differentiates The Whole Grain Diet from the multitude of competing diets on the market? Lots of diets can help you lose weight. The Whole Grain Diet Miracle helps you reduce your risk of developing many chronic diseases, in addition to helping lose weight.

If you could mandate three changes to the American diet, what would they be?
Ban sweetened beverages, replace refined grains with whole grains, and offer fruits and vegetables to everyone at really inexpensive prices.