The #1 Reason Why You Shouldn't Eat Oatmeal, Says a Dietitian
Oatmeal is a super-versatile food that many of us love to eat for breakfast, a snack, or even as a savory side dish. And while it's a great whole grain offering, oatmeal can be a problem if you have stomach issues, especially individuals with certain gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel disease. One cup of oats contains a little over 8 grams of fiber.
"If you have a sensitive stomach, the fiber in the oatmeal may cause you to experience bloating and gas," says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
If you can't tolerate lots of fiber or other high fiber foods, it might be best to skip the oatmeal and instead choose a lower fiber grain option.
"If a person is avoiding oatmeal due to its high fiber content and struggles to tolerate high fiber foods, they could choose cream of wheat, grits or white rice, which are all lower in fiber than oats," says Ehsani.
And if you have celiac disease, be sure to look for gluten-free certified oats, as regular oats found in the cereal aisle may be contaminated with gluten, adds Ehsani.
But ultimately, it's about what you're putting in your oatmeal that can lead to the biggest problems. (Related: The Unhealthiest Way to Prepare Oatmeal, According to a Dietitian.)
"If you eat oatmeal and add sweetness like brown sugar, honey and/or maple syrup, you're increasing the amount of total calories and bumping up the total carbohydrates amount as well," says Ehsani. "[People] with pre-diabetes and diabetes may have to be cautious, as this may cause one's blood sugar to rise too high."
This also can be a big issue with pre-packaged oatmeal.
"Be careful of those flavored oatmeal packets (pre-packaged or sweetened instant oatmeal). For example, oatmeal sold as maple syrup and brown sugar oatmeal, or strawberries and cream oatmeal, typically has a lot of added ingredients and sugar that makes the nutritious grain no longer nutritious," says Ehsani. "It's better to buy plain oatmeal and add your own nutritious toppings to it, like fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and/or nut butters and your own spices like cinnamon and cardamom to flavor up your bowl of oatmeal."
But adding sugar isn't the only thing that can make your oatmeal unhealthy.
"If you eat oatmeal made with whole milk or cream, you are making your heart-healthy bowl of oats, no longer heart-healthy. Instead, you are increasing the amount of saturated fat, which is directly linked to increasing one's bad LDL-cholesterol," says Ehsani. "To keep your bowl of oats heart-healthy, instead make your oatmeal with fat-free milk, non-dairy milk like almond milk or water."
Read more: Every Oatmeal in America in 2021—Ranked.
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