Several years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease. I struggled with continuous hives, depression, hair loss, anxiety – the list goes on. My doctor told me about a drug I could take, but said it would only help with my symptoms and wouldn't really get to the root of the issue. So instead of conventional medical treatment, I chose a grain-free, nutrient-dense diet, holistic therapies and detox to allow my body to heal and recover.
Thankfully, I have a supportive family and my husband said, "If you have to do this, then we do it together." We all dove in and learned how to eat and enjoy a grain-free diet.
I'm happy to report that after many years of hard work and discipline, my disease is in full remission. In my new cookbook, The Grain-Free Family Table, I share my entire story of recovery, health tips to help you reduce inflammation and begin recovering from disease, and over 125 grain-free recipes to get you going on the path.This diet changed my life and it wasn't nearly as hard as I anticipated!
Here are 10 things I didn't expect when our family went grain-free:
1. It's not as hard as it sounds!
Once I eliminated all grains from my diet, it only took three days for me to stop craving them. I thought it was going to be much harder than that! While it may sound restrictive, foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, pastured meats, unprocessed dairy, spices and herbs were still allowed. So there was really a wealth of ingredients available to me.
2. We last longer between meals.
When grains enter our bodies, they cause the insulin levels in the blood to rise. By eliminating grains (and processed sugars) our bodies didn't experience the continuous surges of insulin. That kept our blood sugar levels even and reduced our appetites. I can't tell you how much this helps when we travel as a family. No need to pack loads of snacks for the kids, a nutrient-dense meal can easily keep us going for four hours.
3. It simplified my cooking.
Fewer total ingredients means less work in the kitchen. Roasting some vegetables or pastured meat and adding a salad or fruit for a nutrient-dense, easy to prepare meal made cooking so much easier.
4. My kids loved it.
This one surprised me the most. I come from the perspective that we don't need to feel deprived, so I occasionally bake, make treats for special occasions and allow them to choose specific meals they'd like to help prepare. Every birthday party for the last five years has been grain-free –they secretly loved knowing their friends were eating (and enjoying!) grain-free cakes and treats.
5. My mind is more alert.
This is one of my favorite unexpected perks — no afternoon energy dips! Again, without the spikes from eating grains, my insulin levels don't swing back and forth throughout the day. That keeps my energy level much more stable.
6. Entertaining is a cinch!
Cooking large dinners for friends and family isn't as difficult now. When you remove the breads and pastas, the door opens to flavorful roasted meats and vegetables, hearty salads, fruits, fresh cheeses, and puddings. These foods are easy to prepare with few ingredients — a path to easy, low-stress entertaining.
7. I lost weight.
Most people who start a grain-free diet immediately notice some weight loss. At the beginning of my journey, I lost 12 pounds in a matter of weeks. My body finally had time to rest, reduce inflammation and let go of some unneeded pounds.
8. Grain-Free takes the stress out of baking.
You don't need to worry about deciphering complicated ingredient lists, following a long list of steps, or ruining a recipe by mixing for too long. Most grain-free baking recipes take shape with just a bowl and spoon. Often, I can whiz together the ingredients in a food processor or blender before pouring them into a pan. From cookies to cakes to puddings, life got far simpler.
9. No one in the family complained.
I don't think a healthy diet needs to be too restrictive. Have fun, enjoy, and your family will, too.
10. I reversed my autoimmune disease.
Of course, this was my goal, but I was honestly stunned while watching it all happen. I experienced first-hand the very significant role food plays in my overall health.