A grain-free diet goes a step beyond being gluten-free. In addition to eliminating gluten, it also involves restricting gluten-free grains such as oats, rice, millet, and corn. Some versions allow quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat, and some don't. All fruits and vegetables are grain-free with the exception of corn. On a grain-free diet, you can still have eggs, meat, fish, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and dairy. If you need a place to start with what to avoid when going gluten-free, I have a full list of key words which generally mean gluten here.
Going grain-free can lead to better digestion and reduced inflammation. It can also aid in weight loss and help with auto-immune conditions. Grains can be tough to digest so removing grains from your diet may provide relief if you suffer from bloating and inflammation.
Grain-Free vs Paleo:
Brendan follows a paleo diet about six days a week, which is inherently grain-free. However, a grain-free diet is not necessarily paleo. Both paleo and grain-free diets eliminate gluten and grains. Paleo goes a step further by also removing dairy, refined sugar, quinoa, amaranth, legumes, potatoes, and more. Going grain-free is definitely easier than going paleo. If you've thought about trying out paleo, you may want to try a grain-free diet first since it's a good way to ease into it :)
Grains to Avoid:
- Rice (also includes rice flour)
- Corn (also includes cornflour, cornmeal, and polenta)
- Vegetables: such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, squash, zucchini, zoodles, cauliflower rice, avocado, artichoke, asparagus, carrots, beets, bell peppers, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, radishes
- Greens: such as arugula, spinach, kale, romaine, collard greens
- Fruits: such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, apples, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, pears, grapefruit, grapes, mango, watermelon, papaya, plums, peaches
- Beans & Legumes
- Grain-free products such as FitJoy protein bars
- Grain-free baked goods (recipes here)
Post Grain-Free Challenge Thoughts:
After a few days of eating grain-free, I felt great! Going grain-free at first seemed daunting but it honestly wasn't that hard. I started each day like I usually do with berries and a big salad with an omelette, roasted vegetables, and cauliflower rice. I had to be a bit more mindful with what I ate after lunch. For snacks, I had fruit, nuts, and a few FitJoy bars each day. It was easy to reach for them, and they taste like dessert so it satisfied my sweet tooth. I also made my two ingredient pancakes and four ingredient paleo brownie batter.
It made me realize that being grain-free isn't that difficult, and I actually do eat fairly grain-free. I feel like I could be completely grain-free with the exception of when I bake with grains or go to a gluten-free bakery. Grains aren't necessary with baking so I just need to be thoughtful about the ingredients. Have you tried going grain-free?! Let me know how you felt!
To read the rest of this post and get access to her recipes, click here.
Jackie Aanonsen McEwan is the founder of Gluten Free Follow Me, the guide to living gluten-free. Seven years ago, Jackie learned she had celiac disease. She had just graduated from Georgetown University and moved to New York City for her finance job. Jackie had to figure out what gluten was, what foods she could eat, what foods she had to avoid, and the nuances in between.