Seems the Paleo diet is all the rage these days. For some reason, many of us find the idea of eating like a caveman to be somehow appealing (though I’m quite sure Neanderthals didn’t have slow cookers, chocolate or salads-in-a-jar).
While I could never condone eating all that meat (whatever other reasons, meat is highly acidifying, and acid in the body promotes weak bones), I certainly understand the appeal of forgoing grains, at least temporarily.
There are some truly adamant anti-grain proponents out there, advocating no grains at all in the diet, ever. Do grains really tear at the intestinal lining? Do the phytates in them truly prevent absorption of key vitamins and minerals? On the other side of the spectrum are those that suggest a diet high in grains is, conversely, the path to optimum health. What to believe?
As with most issues around health, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Your body’s reaction to grains will depend in large part whether the grain is refined or if it contains gluten (often more difficult on the digestive tract, whether or not you have celiac disease).
I’m one of those people who has trouble stopping at one cookie. I love grain-based foods, and while I do believe that whole grains should be part of a healthy diet, I’ve found that forgoing grains for a limited time helps to get my diet back on track. When grain-free, I lean more toward vegetables, nuts and seeds, with fresh fruit and legumes as well. The bonus with this type of diet—aside from giving my digestive system a rest—is that sugar cravings often disappear entirely.
If you suspect that grains may be a problem for you, try giving them up for one week and see what happens. You may be surprised at how much lighter you feel without them. And don’t worry; you won’t have to give up your favorite dishes, either; there are grain-free options for virtually every meal.
For breakfast, ditch the cereal and try a smoothie or high-protein quiche. For lunch, salads make most sense, but there are also many types of grain-free breads you can try. A hearty chili or pizza for dinner fits the bill without adding starches. As for dessert? There are literally thousands of recipes online for grain-free truffles, chocolate, puddings, and more.
A lifetime without any grains might seem extreme, but for most of us, a little break now and then is actually a good thing.