Grain-Free: The Best Diet for You?
Grain-Free Diets and Tips for How to go Grain-free
If you’ve decided to give grain-free diet a try for its many health benefits such as: reduced blood sugar, inflammation and allergens but aren’t sure where to start this post is for you. Read on to learn why you should consider going grain free, what types of diets you can follow, foods to avoid, easy swaps and what to eat for breakfast.
Why Grain-Free Eating might Be Right for You
If you suffer from any autoimmune conditions, allergies, headaches, sinus problems, or pain then removing grains from your diet may help. This way of eating has been shown to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Help Control Blood Sugar
- Reduce Cravings
- Aid in Weight Loss
- Put Autoimmune diseases into Remission
What types of diets are grain-free?
The Paleo diet (also known as the caveman diet and the hunter gatherer diet) is one that highlights clean proteins, and eliminates foods that weren’t readily available in the paleolithic era such as legumes, dairy and grains. Many who follow the diet report improvements in their weight and remission from autoimmune diseases. This could be because the diet has lower inflammatory foods such as grains.
Low Carb and Keto Diets
Low carb diets have been popular for a while starting with the famous Atkins diet. Keto diets seem to have picked up where it left off. Since these are low carb diets, they are normally free of grains. Some Keto diet followers report weight loss, less pain, inflammation and freedom from symptoms such as headaches, body pain, and brain fog. This could be because grains aren’t consumed and blood sugar is regulated. However, it’s important to note that just because a diet doesn’t contain grains doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Not all low carb diets are created equally and some allow for high amounts of acidic foods without balancing them with alkaline foods. Those with healthy fats, clean proteins that still include fruits and vegetables are more sustainable and better for long term health.
Can a vegan diet be grain-free?
Those following a typical vegan diet may have the highest grain intake of any diet, which may be confusing to some, since the vegan diet also has health benefits. The higher intake of grains which can be acidic may be balanced by the fact that there are less inflammatory and acidic components to the diet such as: eggs, meat and dairy. Also, if a vegan whole foods approach is taken to the diet and includes high fibre pseudo-grains such as quinoa and millet, which are both alkaline it will be healthier than one that includes pancakes, sandwiches and processed foods. If you are a vegan or have tried the vegan diet and still experience bothersome symptoms such as pain or are unable to lose weight it might be the grains. If you want to go grain-free you can focus on having more protein such as tempeh, beans, nuts and seeds to fill you up and replace grains with chia, flax and almond flours.
What can I eat on a grain-free diet?
You can eat proteins of your choice such as tempeh, beans, and seeds or fish, eggs, and meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and sees. Some people do fine with eating gluten-free grains that are still alkaline and high in fibre such as quinoa, and millet. Try two weeks without any grains and if you wish to add them back into your diet begin with the healthiest gluten free grains starting with amaranth to the bottom of the list below, first. This Grain and Sugar free recipe book will help you with this transition.
Food to Avoid Going Grain-Free
The important thing to remember is that grains are not essential to your diet, and that any diet can be made grain-free.
Avoid grains and products containing them including flour.
Here is a list of what to avoid:
- Wheat (and wheat products such as spelt, kamut, bulgur, triticale)
- Barley and rye
- Corn (not a grain but many react to it, and when it’s made into flour becomes a grain)
Here are some easy swaps suitable for any diet:
- Instead of rice -try cauliflower-rice cauliflower rice, or miracle rice (made from konjac starch)
- Instead of pasta- try zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for low carb, keto, and paleo or lentil or chickpea pasta if you’re vegan. Try this zucchini-noodle-carbonara.
- Instead of bread or wraps- Try flax wraps made without flour or keto-mini-quick-bread or any bread made with almond and coconut flour.
- Instead of crackers or cookies- try flax crackers, or ones made with hemp seeds
- Instead of thickening with flour- try using chia (make into a gel with water) or pureed vegetables to thicken soups
Breakfast, the grainiest meal of the day…
It may seem like all the easy breakfast recipes include grains. Even healthy breakfast recipes such as avocado toast, and oatmeal contain grains. Don’t worry. There are delicious easy breakfast recipes to replace the ones you might be used to having and it doesn’t mean you’ll have to drink smoothies all day long, though smoothies are a good option. If you like to carb it up in the morning with pancakes and muffins, it can satisfy cravings but you’re likely to crash a couple of hours later. With grain-free versions of your favourites such as: banana muffins, flourless pancakes and chia pudding in our grain-free, sugar-free recipe guide, you can trick your sweet tooth and nourish your body.
Ready to go Grain-Free?
Give it a try for two weeks and see how you feel.
- Is your digestion better?
- Has your skin cleared up?
- Do you have less brain fog?
- Has your waist line improved?
Just note that if the answer to any of these questions is yes; you might be sensitive to grains. If you wish to eat them again, try adding in the healthier grains (the ones that are nutrient dense, gluten free and less reactionary listed at the bottom of the grains list above, starting with amaranth) one at a time to see how your body reacts.
If you want to find out what other foods you may be sensitive to you can try eliminating them or call or email the office to book an appointment with one of our naturopaths for allergy testing. Dr Kaster can do Electrodermal Screening which will provide you with a list of foods you are sensitive to and she’ll coach you through it.
If you are a returning Naturopathic client, you can schedule your own follow-up here.