III. What CAN I eat???
Okay…so grains for less than ideal fuel for your body. Let’s cover some commonly asked questions about ‘What CAN I eat???’
1. If Grains Shouldn’t Be the Foundation Of My Diet, What Do I Eat Instead???
Eat Vegetables! Especially Green Vegetables such as leafy greens (lots of lettuce, kale, mixed greens etc). A good rule of thumb is to have vegetables consist of 70 to 80 percent of your plate.
Eat a WIDE variety of vegetables. Try to eat every color of the rainbow on a daily basis. Diversify colors, textures, and varieties. They feed the good bacteria in your gut such as Bifidobacterium. Interestingly enough, vegetables contain their own little ecosystems of healthy bacteria as well. The most dominant beneficial bacteria strains found on vegetables are Lactobacillus Plantarum. Healthy fiber from vegetables also facilitates in helping the gut to absorb nutrients such as magnesium. (1) (2) (3)
The other 20 to 30 percent of your plate should be pastured and/or grass fed protein OR healthy resistant starches. Some examples are sweet potato, purple potato, plantains, recipes made with Cassava flour, Coconut Flour, Tapioca Four etc.
2. So…Should I NEVER Eat Grains? Ever???
No. In my book, that is not practical nor possible for daily life. Unless you live on a different planet or don’t want any friends or relationships…never eating grains is just not realistic, nor necessary.
Anti-nutrients are in MANY foods. Not just grains. They are also in nuts, seeds, and even some vegetables such as the nightshade family (eggplants, peppers, white potatoes, tomatoes).
What’s important is to minimize your consumption and exposure to anti-nutrients. Small amounts of anit-nutrients are okay. In fact, some studies show that phytic acid, in small amounts, has anti-cancer properties. (4) (5)
The key is…small amounts. When foods high in anti-nutrients (brown rice, wheat, corn, barley, oats) are a dietary staple, your GI tract gets destroyed. (6)
3. What About Nuts and Seeds???
As I mentioned in the above section, nuts and seeds DO contain anti-nutrients like grains.
However, it’s pretty challenging to eat 6 cups of raw nuts or pumpkin seeds in one sitting. Most people do not eat jars and jars of nut butters. I did when I was vegan and I believe that my habit of eating almost an entire jar of almond butter in one sitting contributed to my development of Leaky Gut and SIBO. Don’t do as I did. It’s been quite the journey healing from having a Leaky Gut.
Instead, nuts and seeds should be treated more as a condiment than a dietary staple. (7) (8)
This is why I am not a fan of baking with nut flours on a regular basis. Think about it. Treats made primarily of almond flour contains cupfuls of almonds. It takes quite a lot of almonds to grind into a substancial amount of flour to bake with. Of course, having an occasional slice of cake or a cookie made from nut flour is okay. But if consumed on a daily basis (such as grain-free bread or bagels made primarily from nut flours) you are going to run into similar problems as you will with large amounts of grains.
4. Doesn’t Soaking and Sprouting Your Grains Remove Anti-nutrients?
This is where I was surprised! I thought for sure that soaking and sprouting gluten free grains like quinoa or oats would reduce and/or break down the anti-nutrients in the grains.
Unfortunately, scientific research is saying otherwise.
Studies show that soaking grains doesn’t reduce anti-nutrients that significantly. (9) Even heat isn’t the answer as most lectins are resistant to heat. (10) (11)
In the end, your best bet is to simply reduce your consumption of grains to treats and special occasions.
IV. What Are You Going to Do About This?
This information about grains NOT being healthy for you may come as a shock.
I understand. I’m guessing you grew up eating a very similar diet as I did for the first 22 years of my life. It’s the Standard American Diet. Spearheaded by the good ol’ Food Pyramid. And it’s message has inundated the advertising industry.
Yes, science has been leaps and bounds in the area of health within the last 10 to 15 years. This information about anti-nutrients such as lectins, phytic acid, gliadin, phytates etc. wasn’t broadcasted to our parents generation.
However, it’s also important to recognize that they were marketed and brainwashed by big advertising companies that were making food products out of government subsidized grains and oils.
Why? It’s pretty simple. Grains are cheap. They can be preserved and stored for months upon months. And honestly, they are highly addictive.
That’s why it’s important to pay attention to where your belief system began.
Why do you think what you think about food?
Where did you first hear the information that drives your daily dietary choices?
Are YOU consciously choosing the best fuel for your body 80 to 90 percent of the time?
Of course, we are all human. And we won’t always eat perfectly clean ALL THE TIME. Yet, there’s no such thing as perfect.
“Better is Perfect and Perfect is Irrelevant”
I personally follow the 90/10 rule. I eat super clean, organic and grain free 90 percent of the time with the 10 percent breathing room for treats and foods I normally don’t eat. That works for me. It enables me to feel, think, look, and perform at my very best every day while keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle sustainable to follow for the rest of my life.
You have to decide what will work for you. Everyone is unique. It’s your job to take up the challenge to listen to your own body and learn what makes you feel, think, look and perform your personal best.
7.Nachbar, Martin S., and Joel D. Oppenheim. “Lectins in the United States diet: a survey of lectins in commonly consumed foods and a review of the literature.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 33.11 (1980): 2338-2345.