With all the diets out there, it’s easy to get confused. Throw free behind any word and you’ve got a new food trend. Luckily, today’s topic is pretty straight forward. Going grain free isn’t as complicated as other diets. And it still allows for quiet a bit. So let’s chat about what you need to know about going grain free.
WHAT IS A GRAIN FREE DIET?
I like to think of a grain free diet as also a gluten free plus diet. Similar to a gluten free diet, you’re avoiding wheat and gluten based products. But now there’s the additional rice, corn, oats and such to avoid. A lot of gluten free alternatives are made with other grains. Most often, it’s corn. A grain free diet focuses more on eliminating the group that can cause digestion issues. However, unlike paleo it’s not considered a lower carb diet.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO AVOID?
It might seem intense but it’s actually very doable. Here’s the list of things to avoid on a grain free diet: Bread, Wheat, Rye, Barley, Bran, Bulgar, Couscous, Farina, Kamut, Orzo, Semolina, Graham flour, Spelt, Cornflour, Millet, Oats, Corn, Cornmeal, Rice, Teff, Montina flour, Sorghum, Beer and other wheat-derived alcohol (1).
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
A grain free diet allows for quite a bit of flexibility. It still includes meat, dairy, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. There’s also no specific restriction on sugar. However, it’s encourage to be conscious of your sugar and starch consumptions. A day in the life of someone grain free might include swapping morning cereal for a homemade seed granola, adding more greens to your lunch instead of a rice base and opting for a cauliflower pizza crust instead of a gluten free one.
HOW LIVABLE IS THE DIET?
It’s livable but there is an adjustment period. One thing I noticed when I started to cut back on the grains in my diet was how frequently grains are used to bulk meals. Rice is incredibly common. I often see it added to salads and other dishes as the base. If you’re looking to go grain free, be sure to double check the menu. Also if you’re like me and enjoy savory or crunchy snacks, it helps to find alternatives for tortilla chips & popcorn. I always forget corn is a grain.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
My initial research into a grain free diet was because of dental issues I was having. Grains tend to be higher in lectins which can potentially block the absorption of key mineral which can lead to tooth decay. So if you’re having serious dental issues, giving a grain free diet a go might be helpful. It’s also great for making you more self aware of what you’re eating and may have the added benefit of helping with cholesterol issues.
WHERE DO I START?
Like most dietary changes, I always suggest starting small. Cauliflower rice is a great alternative in meals. If you’re gluten free, make sure you double check any pastas or breads you’re using. Cassava is a great option if you’re looking for tortillas and chips. And if you want to make it easier, know that anything considered Paleo is probably safe to eat.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?
As always, Dr. Axe has a great article you can find here. And if you’re looking for recipe alternatives, I’d suggest checking out Nutrition Stripped or Against All Grain. Danielle’s cookbook* is one of my favorites if you’re looking to make going grain free easier. Her recipes are delicious, easy to make and adaptable.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Grain free diets still allow for a lot. But the one thing that not everyone agrees on is quinoa. Some consider it a grain and other’s still include it in their diet. You’ll have to make your own judgment call on that one. If you’re a bread person, I’d suggest finding an alternative you enjoy. Barely Bread is paleo friendly but a bit pricey. Base Culture* makes my current favorite gluten & grain free bread. I’d highly recommend checking it out.
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