Considering Going Grain-Free? Here's What To Eat

Most people never suspect that the annoying, itchy, embarrassing rash they’ve endured for the past 10 years; the crippling joint pain in their hands that complicates the simplest tasks like brushing teeth or writing a check; the need to run to the toilet for an uninvited loose bowel movement; or the constant struggle with constipation, anxiety, depression, headaches, and sinus congestion can all be due to “healthy whole grain” bread or bran muffins.

The most confident means of avoiding foods with grains is to choose foods that are naturally grain-free, such as vegetables, eggs, olives, and meats. That points us toward a solution, a policy that helps you easily navigate your new grainless life: Avoid processed foods that bear labels and return to real, unprocessed, naturally grain-free, single-ingredient foods without labels.

Choosing real, single-ingredient foods that are nourishing means enjoying unlimited quantities of the following:

Vegetables

Enjoy all the fresh or frozen veggies you want, except for potatoes. Explore the wonderful range of choices: spinach, chard, kale, broccoli, broccolini, collard greens, lettuces, peppers, onions, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, squash, and so on. It might also be time to revisit vegetables you didn’t previously like because of the change in taste perception you will undergo when grain-free.

Don’t be surprised if the Brussels sprouts you once despised now become your favorite. Minimize reliance on canned vegetables, especially tomatoes, due to bisphenol A, an endocrine-disrupting chemical, in the can’s lining.

Meats

Choose from beef, pork, lamb, fish, chicken, turkey, buffalo, ostrich, and wild game. Consider pasture-/grass-fed, free-range, and organic sources whenever possible to minimize exposure to antibiotic residues, hormones, and other contaminants as well as to do your part in encouraging a return to more humane livestock practices.

There is no need to look for lean cuts; look for fatty cuts, often less expensive and full of the fats you need that facilitate success in this lifestyle. And try to overcome the modern aversion to organ meats, such as liver, heart, and tongue, the most nutritious components of all, especially the liver and heart.

Adding uncured liver sausage or ground liver to meat loaf is an easy way to resume organ consumption. Only over the last 50 years have people developed an aversion to organ meats.

Get over it: Have some liver. (Just as with humans, if an animal was raised in contaminated circumstances, the meat and organs will be contaminated, so look for pasture-fed, organic sources here as well.) Save bones in the freezer to make soups and bone broth, excellent for joint, hair, and nail health.

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Eggs

Eggs are little powerhouses of nutrition and are an important part of a successful grain-free lifestyle.

Choose cage-free, organic sources whenever possible or, even better, purchase them from a local source. If you are allergic to eggs from chickens, consider goose, duck, ostrich, or quail eggs, if available.

Raw or Dry-Roasted Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds are all great choices, as are dry-roasted peanuts (though they’re really a low-carbohydrate legume, not a nut).

Avoid nuts roasted in unhealthy oils, such as hydrogenated cottonseed or hydrogenated soybean oil, as well as wheat flour, cornstarch, maltodextrin, or sugar used to coat them. Should you choose roasted, none of these unhealthy oils or other ingredients should be listed.

Cashews are the one nut that should be limited, as they are among the most carbohydrate-rich of nuts; consume lightly and use the carbohydrate management method discussed below.

Fats and Oils

Choose coconut, palm, extra-virgin olive, extra-light olive, macadamia, avocado, flaxseed, and walnut oils, as well as organic butter and ghee.

Don’t be afraid of saving the oils from bacon, beef, and pork. You can also purchase lard and tallow, but make sure they are not hydrogenated. Minimize use of polyunsaturated oils (corn, safflower, mixed vegetable, and sunflower).

Avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils completely.

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Cheeses

Purchase real cultured cheeses only (not Velveeta or single-slice processed cheese), preferably organic and full fat, not skim or reduced fat.

The cheese-making process minimizes the undesirable aspects of dairy (such as whey and unhealthy forms of casein). Be careful with blue cheese, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort, which are occasionally sources of wheat.

Miscellaneous

Look for guacamole, hummus, pesto, tapenades, olives, and unsweetened condiments, such as mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup without high-fructose corn syrup, and oil-based salad dressings without high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, or cornstarch.

Alcohol

It is best to refrain from drinking alcohol or keep it to a bare minimum (no more than one glass per day) during your detox. If you wish to keep some on hand, though, consider wine (the drier, the better); non-grain vodka (Cîroc, Chopin, others); rum; tequila; brandies and cognacs; and non-grain or gluten-free beers.

Note that beers, in particular, can have small quantities of grain residues, even if they are gluten-free, and have potential for excessive carbohydrates, so go very lightly with them; one 12-ounce serving approaches your carbohydrate limit, so never have more than one serving.

Excerpted from Wheat Belly: 10-Day Grain Detox, courtesy of Rodale.

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