Though not for everyone, a grain-free diet has been increasing in popularity the past few years. Many people have turned to a grain free diet in hopes of easing symptoms from everything to gluten sensitivity, autoimmune disorders, and poor digestion. Followers of a grain-free diet, particularly those following an autoimmune protocol, tout the myriad benefits from reduced inflammation and improved digestion to better mental health. Getting rid of grains has the potential to help curb food addiction, improve mental health, decrease heart disease risk, and improve symptoms associated with leaky gut.
With most dietary changes comes the possibility of improved health, if only because you become much more aware of what you're eating. You may be meal planning, cooking at home more, paying closer to attention to labels, and eating less processed foods. That's always a win! Meal planning is even more advantageous on a grain-free diet, as a lot of mainstays in a typical American diet are now off limits.
So what's generally restricted on a grain-free diet?
All grains and any grain by-products, including bread, wheat, rye, barley, bran, Bulgar, couscous, farina, kamut, orzo, semolina, graham flour, spelt, corn (including tortilla chips), millet, oats, cornmeal, rice, teff, montina flour, sorghum, beer and other wheat or corn derived alcohol.
Potatoes and legumes can be included in moderation, however, pseudo-cereals, like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat, strike some controversy. While some feel they are okay to include in a grain-free diet in moderation, others claim they still contain some of the properties that traditional grains do. Choosing to consume these pseudo-cereals is a personal choice.
While the above list seems pretty long, there are still of plenty of foods to enjoy on a grain-free diet!
Seek out the following:
Healthy fats, such as coconut oil, ghee, avocados, and seeds. If you consume dairy, look for raw, cultured dairy.
High protein foods including eggs, grass-fed fed, ethically sourced fish, and plant-based proteins.
Vegetables, with an emphasis on leafy greens over starchy veggies. Pulse cauliflower in a food processor and you have “rice”. Push zucchini, sweet potato, or butternut squash through a spiralizer, and you have noodles! Use potato slices to make sandwiches.
Fruits, especially antioxidant-rich fruits like strawberries, tomatoes, apples, oranges, grapefruit, and blueberries.
Grain substitutes. While it's best to avoid processed foods or simple making grain-free versions of your favorite baked goods, there are some great stand-ins for those special occasions. Coconut flour, cassava flour, and almond flour are great choices for grain-free baked goods.
Whatever your reason for trying out a grain-free diet, the benefits of a whole-food based diet are plentiful!