What is a Grain Free Diet?

by Lisa on June 12, 2009

A grain free diet is one without any rice, corn, wheat, barley, rye or oats. This diet is also a gluten free diet. The grain free diet is a return to a diet that existed before the advent of agriculture and the cultivation of rice and wheat, when humans consumed simply meat, fruit and vegetables. Since then, we have increasingly consumed larger and larger quantities of grains, especially the cheap-to-produce wheat and corn, which are now found in almost all prepared foods.

Is a Grain Free Diet Low Carb?

Grain free should not be confused with low carb because there are no restrictions on carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and alternate flours or psuedo-grains. However, you can make it low carb if you wish by eating only meat, low carb dairy, vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds.

Is a Grain Free Diet Difficult?

A grain free diet need not be difficult if you take the time to plan in advance exactly what you are going to eat.

Wheat is difficult if not impossible to avoid unless you cook from scratch because it is found in bread, cereal, pasta, flour, sauces, biscuits, and most desserts – pastries and cakes.

Corn is also prevalent, most often in the form of corn syrup, which is used as a sweetener in sauces and many foods – even salad dressings and ketchup. You have to read your labels!

Most prepared foods, restaurant fare and take-out meals contain wheat, corn or rice and are therefore off limits. You can make pizza and pancakes, bread and muffins, but you have to learn to use new ingredients like quinoa and amaranth, almond flour and flaxseed meal.

You can find many free, grain free recipes on this site. Breakfast can be difficult on a grain free diet, so I wrote Fun & Fabulous Grain Free Breakfast Recipes – How to Enjoy Your Old Favorites in a Brand New Way! It is available as an e-book or in paperback on Amazon.com.

Benefits of a Grain Free Diet

The main benefits from a diet free of grain are weight loss, reduced allergies and an increase in general wellness.

You also get a much greater variety of foods in your daily intake instead of just wheat at every meal, which makes up the bulk of most diets in the developed world. This heavy concentration of a single food source is the cause of many dietary problems because the body is very likely to develop an allergy.

Wheat allergies and gluten sensitivity are growing problems, attributable to the over dependence of wheat in the modern diet. In fact, wheat and corn are two of the most common foods allergens.

Many people don’t realize that they have a sensitivity to grains – they just know they are tired and don’t feel well. A grain free diet may allow you to feel an improvement in health and an increase in energy in as soon as four to five days.

The grain free diet forces variety and creativity. It is an exciting challenge if you enjoy cooking and trying new recipes and the rewards are priceless – an improved quality of life.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Irene

Seriously considering this lifestyle change but feel the ingredients are above my budget.

Lisa Bishop

Hello Irene.
Meats, fruits and vegetables are more expensive than pasta, rice, bread and other grain products. But if the grain products are affecting your health, then eating them may be more expensive in the long run when you consider how you feel and ongoing medical costs.

Perhaps you can’t switch entirely to this type of diet, but there are certainly small steps you can take in that direction. Perhaps you could just cut one food out and replace it with something healthier for you. For example, for breakfast, instead of eating cereal or toast (which will leave you hungry in an hour or so and needing a mid-morning snack,) eat a couple of eggs. Eggs are very cheap and are a good source of protein. Eating them in the morning will keep you satisfied for hours. Then you don’t have to pay for that snack before lunch!

I encourage you to just start small and start moving in the direction in which you want to go. Thanks so much for the comment! It’s a great subject!

Andrea

Hi there, maybe you can help me out. I’ve been put on a wheat free, grain free diet, also no corn, potato, rice, beets or pasta. I am allowed meat, fruits, veggies, fowl, fish and things that are not wheat and grains. When I told my doctor yesterday I had eaten quinoa he said no you cant, its a grain. Also from my own research I see that amaranth and flaxseeds are grains yet you are able above to recommend all 3 as substitutes. Sorry I am new at this, what am I missing in all of this grain, no grain stuff? Are you allowing some grains in your grain free breakfast book? Please help I am dying for grain free recipes particularly for my breakfast.
Thanks in advance.

Lisa

Hi Andrea,
I am sorry to tell you, but your doctor is misinformed. Quinoa is not technically a grain, nor are amaranth or flax seeds. Quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are from the broadleaf plant family, and are not cereal grains. Flax seed is from an herb plant.

Whether you can eat these pseudo-grains depends on why you are off regular grains. If it is a weight issue, you may want to eat these foods maybe once or twice a week at the most, as they are a bit starchy.

Many people that cannot tolerate grains can eat these alternative foods instead, which is really nice when you are craving that chewy, comfort food type meal. Occasionally, I do run into some that can’t tolerate quinoa, but that is more rare.

My breakfast cookbook does have a few recipes with amaranth in it, as amaranth makes a wonderful oatmeal-like dish that is quick and easy to make in the morning. And there are a few with flaxseed as well, but that is about it, as far as having pseudo-grain ingredients.

Good luck with your new way of eating. You can do this! Thank you for taking the time to comment and let me know how you are doing!

Becca

Lisa…

I just found this site! I’ve been allergic to corn since I was a little kid. I’m 41 now. About 10 years ago I was diagnosed with arthritis in my hips – which is hereditary. The past few years my pain has gotten worse. At times I can barely move. I’ve somehow learned to deal with it like most of us do. My doctor has changed my arthritis medication a couple of times, but the pain is still there. Hurts more the more I move – so exercise it out of the question. Hence weight gain.

Recently I noticed that my allergy medicine wasn’t working like it used to. I get the typical runny nose, scratchy eyes, etc. My doctor sent me to an Allergy Clinic this week and I had some testing done. And guess what? Not only am I still allergic to corn, but I’m also allergic to wheat and soy. I was shocked. And apparently everything that grows in nature :)

So, I started researching grain allergy, and low and behold, I read that grains can cause joint pain! Of course, I know for sure I have arthritis, but if I were a betting woman, I’d say the grains are making it worse.

So here I am going through recipes that my husband – hopefully – won’t freak out on. The ingredients are bizarre sounding and, frankly, quite intimidating.

I’m hoping to get past all that and become the healthy 41 year old that I know I can be.

Thank you for this website…

Becca

Lisa

Hi Becca!

You bet that some grains can make your joint paint worse. I can vouch for that on a personal basis. In fact, joint pain is a little known symptom of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. However, don’t take any blood test or skin test at face value because they are not 100% accurate. Some tend to give false positives and some give false negatives. But they are very useful for giving you a starting point. But all results should be be confirmed with an elimination diet. The elimination/challenge test is the Gold Standard for food testing and it doesn’t cost anything.

It can be quite a shock to find that you can’t eat foods that you grew up on. But you can do this – just work on it a step at a time. You are definitely on the right track! It sounds like your immune system is really overloaded as well, so do what you can to build up your health. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, enough water, exercise – all those things add up!

Thanks for the comment and let me know how you do!

Lisa

silver price

Some believe that grains in general are addicting and that eliminating them will result in weight loss, less allergies, sharper thinking and improvements in some schizophreic patients.Contrary to common belief, corn is a grain, not a vegetable, and contains high amounts of sugar. When early Native Americans changed their diet to one based mostly on corn, they had increased rates of anemia , dental cavities, osteoarthritis , bone infections and other bone problems.

Stacy Bradt

Interesting site. I am a bigtime foodie as well as a health nut. Its quite amazing the amount of info that doctors DONT know. I have been experimenting more and more with psuedo grains. Although, I do see how too much grain can be harmful, I think its more of an issue of being too acid overall. Meat, grains and dairy all make for an acidic body, leading to painful joints, arthritis and fatigue. While vegetables and fruits keep it more alkaline. I do believe though, that pseudo grains like quinoa, amaranth and farro are better choices. I just love quinoa, and its really a legume! :)

Stacy

Bob Mrozinski

I have been having a problem with acid reflux and heartburn lately. My doctor have me Nexium with no real help. I was doing some research and saw that many people suffering with the same problem got some great relief by going on a grain free diet. I am going to try it and hopefully it will help me and others with this problem.

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