So….Have you been told to eliminate grains from your diet, but have no idea where to start?
A grain-free, nutrient-dense diet was one of the key changes I adopted, and which made a huge difference in my wellness journey when I was transition to the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP).
In fact, removing inflammatory causing foods, based on my research and through working closely with functional practitioners, is one of the better things we can do for the management of Hashimoto and leaky gut symptoms. We need to give those poor bodies of ours time to rest and for our guts heal to have any sort of chance at normalising our immune system and thyroid function.
Gluten is one of the biggest autoimmune and allergen culprits, however it’s not the only one, and we need to look at other foods that act like gluten in our body - contributing to all of this inflammation. This includes pasteurised dairy products and un-sprouted grains.
The fact is, going grain-free can be overwhelming – I hear ya! Most of us have been eating some form of grain at every meal, all of our lives from bread, rice and pasta to oats, biscuits and cakes. It’s a huge change to undertake – but when you start to feel the positive difference in your body from doing it – you won’t look back, and in fact, not cooking grains can actually simplify your cooking. Win/win!
My 5 Tips to Make Going Grain-Free A Little Easier!
Prep Protein | Grill, roast or poach a range of protein on the weekend to have ready in your fridge (or freezer) for the week ahead. This means, when hunger strikes, you just need to “add” veggies. This is a brilliant time saver and stress reliever – knowing you have food available and ready to go. You don’t have to think about it. For me, this includes whipping up a batch of meatballs or rissoles, a roast chicken shredded, pork chops grilled or poached chicken breasts.
Prep Veggies | Every Sunday I prep all of my veggies by washing, chopping and storing. This can include having my leafy greens washed and dried, ready to be chopped when I need them. A tray full of root veggies roasted with coconut oil and salt, ready to be added to a breakfast, lunch or dinner bowl. Broccoli and cauliflower florets can be chopped, washed and packed in jars ready to be thrown into a stir-fry, soup, casserole or the steamer. Also, don’t forget to whizz up the stems from your broccoli and cauliflower into rice in your food processor and pop into a jar ready to add into any dish to help bulk up the nutrient value – or make fried rice!
Eat Fat | I believe this to be one of the most important as good healthy fats not only help the body assimilate nutrients, but they satiate you so you don’t overeat and help reduce inflammation. Win/win/win. For me, this could include cooking my prep’d protein and veggies (mentioned above) in coconut oil, and drizzling extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil over steamed veggies and salads. Adding avocado to my meals, consuming oily fish or keeping the fat on my grass-fed organic meat and chicken.
Cook Once Eat Twice | I live by this philosophy. Every time I cook, I make sure to cook at least 1 extra serving. That way I always have nutrient-dense meals on hand to avoid any temptation to eat out, or go back to old habits and reach for quick grain-filled staples.
Swaps | Getting familiar with grain-free alternatives can also be a lifesaver, and some of my favourite swaps, include:
Wraps/Pita/Sandwiches | Iceberg lettuce is a brilliant, crunchy alternative to a wrap or tortilla, or I love, love, love coconut wraps.
Noodles | I reach for organic arrowroot noodles (they look and taste just like thin vermicelli noodles), or kelp noodles. Even cabbage can be a great alternative, especially in a stir-fry.
Pasta | I love replacing with nutrient dense spiralised veggies, with my favourites being zucchini and sweet potato. Sweet potato is also a great swap for lasagne sheets.
Rice/Quinoa/Cous Cous | I swap between cauliflower, broccoli and parsnip. The stems of the cauliflower and broccoli are brilliant for this – no waste!
Porridge | I thought I had said goodbye to steaming bowls of porridge and rice pudding, until I discovered the cauliflower rice version. Hey, don’t knock it till you try it!
Biscuits/Cakes | You’ll no longer need a pantry filled with various banking ingredients anymore - making baking so much simpler. Experiment with recipes that use the more nutritious, higher in protein and fibre flours like almond* and coconut or even arrowroot/tapioca flour. For a chocolate hit, add raw cacao powder* or carob powder, and remember to go for the gluten/aluminium free baking powder.
Gravy | Needing to make a gravy or thicken a sauce/casserole – arrowroot will do the job perfectly for you.
*Denotes foods not suitable if following AIP
So, is going grain-free right for you? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question. Every single one of us is different. For me, my personal health issues dictated that I at least try and experiment with it – I’m glad I did.
I also respect that for many people, going 100% grain free is neither desirable or practical. I get it! However, like with all foods, I feel quite strongly about our need to avoid processed foods and this includes grains that have been refined, modified, and sprayed – they offer no nutritional value whatsoever.