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Why You Should Go Grain Free
Grain Free? Wait – haven’t you looked at the food pyramid??? Aren’t we supposed to get 9-11 servings of breads, cereals, grains each day? No bread, no pasta? Are you crazy?!?
This was my exact internal conversation when I started reading about giving up grains.
I am by no means an expert on this – I do have personal experience and I think that matters. I know most of what I know about grains and what they do to us from reading Mark’s blog at Mark’s Daily Apple and Kate at Modern Alternative Mama.
I read the Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin 7 years ago or so that drastically changed my eating habits. It is a 40 day challenge to basically purge your body from all the junk you have been eating your whole life on the Standard American Diet and jump start it with whole foods.
Before the diet, I was eating the standard “healthy” diet – low fat, low meat. The Maker’s diet recommends a diet full of nutrient rich foods: vegetables, fruit, protein, healthy fats, soaked grains. It confronts nutrition (and the national health crisis) from a biblical standpoint. For about a year, we did very very well on this diet. Adam and I both felt great, we were both working out, able to wake up in the morning easily… it was a success. But I didn’t understand at the time why I wasn’t eating grains – or why I was supposed to be soaking them, and it just didn’t stick.
Then life happened. We got lazy – I wanted pasta, bread, cereal… the cravings came back. We still ate whole foods, we just continued to substitute more carbs in place of vegetables and fruit – we always grabbed the whole wheat bread (Nature’s Own), the whole wheat pasta, the stone ground whole wheat flour… We thought we were eating healthy.
Our diet consisted of whole grain carbs, fruit, vegetables, and just a little protein and fat. But we weren’t healthy any more. We had sugar cravings, we were tired, I was having blood sugar problems – getting shaking between meals, getting light-headed… It was my “normal.”
Then I got pregnant. Pregnancy did my diet in… It was not sustainable. I was miserable with morning sickness, weakness, dizziness, passing out at time. This diet was not nourishing for me or my growing baby. Thankfully, I was getting care from a midwife at the time who does a more “whole body” approach. She asked me to send her a 3 day food diary.
I just knew that I had the perfect diet, why should I be worried? Then she knocked me across the face, “your baby needs protein and fat” – and very little empty carbs. Of course, this was going to have to change every single meal I was eating at the time. I was more miserable for the next 2 weeks when trying to change my diet then I was before – was this even worth it? I would sit at the dinner table and cry because I didn’t know what to eat and I had so many food aversions from pregnancy… I just felt so limited!
I was eating more protein and fat with my meals then I had ever eaten before – I’m going to be huge! But I wasn’t getting bigger (other than my growing belly) and after I got down the “acceptable” meals down – I was feeling great.
So, fast forward a few weeks to December 2, 2010. I had an amazingly easy homebirth of a 9 pound healthy baby girl. I thought “I can eat whatever I want now!” Bring on the carbs! And my diet went right back to what I was eating before I was pregnant – whole foods, but a whole lot of carbs. In one week I had dropped all the baby weight, I was in my prepregnancy clothes again – I felt amazing!
But that feeling didn’t last… I was breastfeeding, so I was hungry – but I grabbed carbs – crackers and cheese, breads… I even started gaining weight around 5-6 months post partum… This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was breastfeeding and working out!
I got to thinking, if I was able to eat all the fat and protein while I was pregnant and my body functioned like it needed to – giving it to the baby and not my thighs, maybe there was something there. So, I started doing some research… and research…
It took months before I convinced myself that I needed to go grain-free. Aidalyn was probably around 10 months, when I just started reducing grains. Then Adam and I committed for the whole month of January we would be 100% grain-free, after that we would be 80-20. I did a lot of “pinning” on Pintrest to get ready. We started using more coconut and almond flour for baking and cooking.
***Update: Trim Healthy Mama does a great job of balancing the carbs, fats, and protein in their book. You can soak oatmeal to reduce any phytates, if you want to eat that for an energizing breakfast. Grain free breads are perfect for satisfying meals and snacks.
What are your thoughts on going grain free? Have your tried adding more grain free flours into your diet?
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