Grain-Free Diet = Weight Loss and Wellness?
Let me start by saying I LOVE grain-based food products. I would list my 3 favourite foods as lasagne, pizza, and hamburgers, all of which contain a good deal of grains. For most of my adult life I ate grains with most meals, including a lot of cereals, breads, crackers, and many others. I rationalized that if my grain choices were “whole grains” then they were healthy options.
At the same time, I lived with a lot of health issues that I didn’t even recognize because I was so accustomed to dealing with them. I was constantly fatigued and I found myself gassy and bloated after just about every meal. It wasn’t until I began reading about the gluten and gluten-free diets that I ever even considered that my diet (one devoid of pretty much any “junk” food) might be in need of a change. It certainly was.
Why Is Gluten Bad All of a Sudden?
Skeptics of a gluten-free diet often point out that people survived on grain-based diets (specifically wheat) for centuries, so why would these foods suddenly be harming us? Well, it wasn’t the wheat that suddenly changed, it was us that changed the wheat! In fact, wheat is changing all the time:
Wheat is being engineered to produce greater yields, improve grain quality, be disease and insect resistant, require less nitrogen to grow, require less pesticides and herbicides, and the list goes on and on.
What was once a healthy food for humans has become quite a different food altogether and the human body has not caught up. Eating this new wheat can make people sick, fat, or even die (for celiac disease sufferers) because our bodies are not able to process it like we could with old wheat.
Is Wheat the Only Problem?
Wheat is currently taking a lot of heat because it is the main glutenous grain in our western diet. But, that doesn’t mean that all non-gluten grains are a perfect replacements. In fact, over-consuming some gluten-free grains can have similar health ramifications to eating gluten. Hear what Dr. Peter Osborne, a strong proponent of gluten-free and even grain-free eating, has to say:
Should I Stop Eating Grains?
Cutting anything out of your diet is only a healthy choice if the foods used as a replacement are better. Cutting out grains and replacing them with sugar-filled, grain-free baking is not likely going to be a wise move! I especially caution highly-active people to consider what their diet will look like when they eliminate gluten and/or grains. People who exercise using intense cardio and resistance training need a lot of carbohydrates in their diet to fuel their muscles. Grains are a great source of carbs and are therefore a great source of energy – What foods will you eat as a replacement?
Similarly, I caution people when it comes to eating gluten-free or grain-free processed foods from the grocery store. Read the ingredients panel and you’re likely to find a host of unpronounceable items that are included to give these foods the texture and taste we’ve come to expect from their grain-full counterparts. Are these “foods” really a better choice?
Grain-Free Final Thoughts
Have I found the holy grail of healthy eating? Definitely not. But I have found a diet that works for me and has helped many of my clients lose weight and feel better. Here are the basics:
- Eat vegetables (especially raw) and fruits as a main source of carbohydrates
- Eat smaller quantities of grains and choose those that are low in or free from gluten
- Eat protein with every meal
- Eat small quantities of healthy fats each day
And the best indicator as to whether or not your diet is working? Just ask yourself how you are feeling!