Hi everyone! Today I have Janelle on the blog, who is going to tell you a bit about being being Grain Free. I contacted her while we were doing the 6-8 Week Cleanse (No Grain, No Sugar, No Cheese) and I asked her if she would be kind enough to write about living Grain Free. Well, she did, and the article is wonderful! I hope you all enjoy! It’s great to have another perspective on how diet has changed her and her husbands life around so much. If you are interested in Grain Free, be sure to click her links. She has some really interesting things posted over at Grain Free Living! Enjoy!
Hi everyone! My name is Janelle, and I am the author of the website Grain Free Living. Paige asked me to share some insights into eating grain-free with her readers, and I am pleased to share my personal experience with you all.
I started on this grain-free journey almost a decade ago now when my lovely husband became extremely sick. He was eventually diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease. In dealing with his illness (choosing to avoid drugs and surgery, the only options given us by mainstream medicine at the time) we attempted a raw food diet, fasting, and other dietary modifications, all of which helped to a degree. It wasn’t until we learned of the link between grain lectins and autoimmune diseases that things really turned around (you can also find more information about this by going a google search for the terms “grain lections and autoimmune disease).
So initially I cut out grains in support of my husband, not thinking I would get any benefit from it. (My husband’s life threatening crohn’s disease has been in so-called “remission” for several years now, although he does experience occassional problems due to severe intestinal scaring, and more serious problems if he eats grains more often than once or twice a year.). However, once I stopped eating grains I dropped weight without really trying and felt fitter and healthier than ever before, which made me realise that there were benefits for me to follow this way of eating as well. This is back in early 2000s. Since that time I have gone through phases of eating grains and not eating them, although I always cook grain free at home for my husband.
Personally I find that when I eat wheat I get typical wheat intolerance symptoms, in particular constipation and a bloated and uncomfortable belly. For gluten free grains I do not notice any physical reaction problems but all grains set off my sugar cravings and I find it hard to eat well when my carb and sugar cravings are out of control. My blood sugar also goes haywire when eating grains, and I get shaky between meals, which does not happen to me when I am grain free.
You can read 10 reasons to give up grains here, some more reasons to give up grains here and a great article debunking many of the common things people will say/assume to those who have given up grains here.
Going grain free is pretty simple, really. Stop eating bread, pasta, cereal and rice. Shift the focus away from grains as the main part of the meal and replace them with (lots) more non starchy vegetables, fruits and healthy fats and protein. I talk about the process of giving up grains including looking at some common concerns here and here and also regularly post articles on the Grain Free Living Blog here.
There are quite a few versions of “grain free”. There are various versions of how “full on” you can go. Also what works/appeals to one person may not work/appeal to another. The point is, listen to your body. Personally, I find including some of the pseudo cereals (seeds that are often mistaken for a grain like Quinoa, Buckwheat and Amaranth) a great way of adding variety and interest to my diet. However, others find that these seed flours still cause reactions and problems and avoid them. They are not allowed on the Paleo, GAPS or SCD diets.
This is my version of grain free eating:
Instead of eating rice, I will use quinoa (a seed, not a grain) instead. However I am more likely to just have a bigger salad or more vegetables.
Instead of eating bread, I make my own from a few different grain free recipes (all available for free on my websitehere. I use quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and besan flour to bake with, along with almond meal and coconut flour). While it is better to eat more vegetables, nuts, seeds and good protein, the bread recipes are great for those times when you really really would kill for a good hamburger.
Instead of eating pasta I eat, well, pasta, only I either make it myself from quinoa flour or use 100% buckwheat pasta. Once again, I am more likely to just dump the pasta sauce on top on a big pile of vegies.
I eat wayyyyyy more vegetables than I did before going grain free: for example a chicken and salad sandwich is replaced by a chicken salad, and I eat a very large salad, not just a few token leaves. Soup and a bread roll is replaced by just more soup or I will sometimes have a grain-free bread roll.
Another question I get asked alot is: can cutting out grains help with weight loss? Well, it worked for me. You can read my story of how I dropped over 40 lbs and recovered my health after giving up grains and refined sugar here.
Cutting out grains automatically cuts out most, if not all, processed and refined food and replaces them with homemade, fresh and natural food, so I am sure many of the benefits are not just from what I am NOT eating (ie: grains) but also what I am now eating much more of (unprocessed, wholefoods).
I find it is easy to lose weight on this diet (or gain weight, for those who are underweight) without ever counting calories if the focus is on eating really well and not just going “I don’t eat grains but its ok for me to eat that entire bowl of jelly and ice cream because its grain-free.” Or “I am will now eat half a cow but no vegetables because that is grain-free and I don’t like vegies”. Eat less of the bad stuff, eat more of the good stuff. Move more. Glowing good health will ensue.
Here are a few suggestions for getting started, based on my own personal experience and the mistakes I have learnt from along the way:
- Stay Positive
- Focus on what you can eat not what you can’t.
- Hang around people who are eating the same way or supportive and understanding of your choices.
- Plan ahead. Bake and freeze so you always have good food available.
- Read labels obsessively. Grains lurk in strange places.
- Don’t replace grains with deep fried potato anything.
- Familiarize yourself with what is and isn’t a grain.
And here are a couple of websites to get you started, if living without grains is something that you would like to further explore…
Grain Free Living (that would be me)
Marks Daily Apple. This website really helped me on my own grain free journey. You can also download some great grain free primal recipe free e-books here, and read some inspiring success stories.
So I hope you found that interesting and I wish you all the best on your personal journey and for your continued good health.