Have you heard about the grain-free diet? Well the aim of this diet is in the name; to follow a grain-free diet you need to eliminate all grains, as well as grain-derived foods from your diet. This includes foods such as bread, pasta, oatmeal, pastries, cookies, muesli, breakfast cereals and rice cakes. If my Nonna could hear me now… even thinking about eliminating pasta from my diet, she would not be impressed!
Most grain-free diets allow small amounts of quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat and are naturally low in carbs. There is no restrictions when it comes to non grain-based foods therefore you can eat as much as you want when it comes to meat, fish, seeds, sugar, fats, dairy and eggs.
Let’s first take a look at the benefits of incorporating a grain-free diet into your lifestyle. Firstly it does aid better digestion as for most people grains are difficult to digest and result in diarrhoea, constipation, nausea and/or bloating. Therefore limiting your intake of grains will alleviate these symptoms.
Weight loss is another benefit of the grain-free diet as grains are rather calorie-dense, which is why eliminating them from your diet leads to weight loss. By replacing grains with nutrient dense food such as vegetables and legumes you reduce your calorie intake and stay fuller for longer.
When looking at the negatives of the grain-free diet the main one to considering is constipation. Grains supply our bodies with an adequate amount of fibre, which is needed to keep things moving within our digestive track. By eliminating grains, you’re eliminating your source of fibre, which could lead to constipation. A way to get around this is to ensure you are replacing the grains with other high fibre foods like fruit, vegetables and legumes.
Low energy levels in another aspect to consider here. Grains are one of the main sources of carbohydrates, which is the main source of energy in the body. Therefore by eliminating your grain intake you may start feeling rather sluggish. Again you can counteract this by ensuring you are eating a fully rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and protein.
Your nutrient levels may also decrease, as grains are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals such as folate and iron. You can obtain these vitamins and minerals from other foods however it may require some additional planning to ensure you are fitting everything into your daily meal plan to ensure your body is receiving everything it needs to run efficiently.
So there you have it, the positives and negatives of the grain free diet. For most, eliminating all grains is not necessary but making a few swaps on your grocery list can improve your diet and overall health. We recommend incorporating more gluten-free grains such as quinoa, oats and brown rice into your diet instead of highly processed and refined wheat products. It’s also important to keep everything in moderation, as moderation is key.