I can’t begin to count how many times I have tried to explain to family, friends and people from my classes why I eat grain free. Most people are very confused as to how and why anybody could survive without eating bread and pasta. I get all the nutrients and fiber I need by eating meats, fish, vegetables, fruits and plants. My food pyramid doesn’t have any room for foods that make me sick and grains are one of those foods. For me, food is medicine and the choices I make every day determine how I feel that day and I have discovered that I really like feeling good ! The other main reason that I eat grain free now is because the food is awesome! The picture above is last night’s dinner. Baked Tilapia with magno salsa, roasted carrots and a fresh salad. Who needs grains with all that good food and I felt great after dinner.
I grew up on bread and pasta and so changing my eating habits was a huge lifestyle change for me and it didn’t happen overnight. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I was desperate to get my health back.
If I hadn’t become ill with ulcerative colitis, I would probably still be eating the same foods that I have always eaten. I pretty much adhere to the “if it’s not broke why fix it” mentality, so it took a serious illness for me to make these changes in my food choices. Even though my health wasn’t great when I was eating grains, I didn’t know anything different and I didn’t know what it felt like to feel really good and to eat a meal and not have a reaction to the food. I also had serious brain fog when I was eating grains and more and more research is being done on the gut-brain connection and how grains cause this malady.
For me and many other people like me with digestive disease, what’s broken is our digestive system and I could not digest any kind of grain. I didn’t get this information from any doctor because none of the gastroenterologists I went to would talk to me about food. I heard time and time again that food has nothing to do with my disease.
I have to seriously question their theories and practices because when I began to eliminate specific foods that I couldn’t digest such as grains and dairy my body finally started healing and I started getting my health back. Yes, food does have something to do with my disease!
Everywhere you turn lately in the media you see advertising for gluten free and grain free products. If bread has been a staple in our diets for thousands of years why are all these people suddenly becoming gluten and grain intolerant? For those answers I think you have to look to the history of wheat and how it has evolved in the United States.
Until around 10,000 years ago, our ancestors were hunter- gathers. They hunted game and gathered what nature provided. These foods usually included fish, wild game, berries, nuts and other fruits, leaves, roots and vegetables. This diet is what is known as the popular Paleo diet today.
Grain was not a major source of food because grasses produced very little seed and another reason we didn’t eat grain is that grain is virtually inedible in its raw state. We don’t eat raw wheat because it is toxic to us. After it was discovered that you could cook grains to make them edible they became much more attractive. Humans also realized that grains can be easily stored and transported and they are very economical to produce so that also added to their value. In Dr. Stephen Wangen’s book, Healthier without Wheat, he has a diagram that shows for approximately 2 million years humans consumed little or no grain and it was just in the last 10,000 years that the development of agriculture occurred and wheat became a staple in our diets. Unfortunately for many of us we didn’t inherit the genetic makeup to be able to digest grains.
Maybe you think you don’t eat much wheat, but if you take a hard look at what you eat in a day you might be surprised. If you really start reading labels you will be amazed at how many times wheat is hidden in the ingredient list.
So, if you look at the state of our health in the United States right now, it is pretty dismal. We are one of the most affluent countries in the world and we rank – 37th in health according to the World Health Organization. But I don’t need to tell you that, you can look around at any restaurant, soccer game, work, or a PTA meeting and the state of our health is looking right at you.
So why is it then that our health has fallen into such disarray? I think that it all comes back to what we are putting in our mouths each and every day. Most of the common diseases that people are dealing with could be prevented by a diet change and adding in some movement every day. By movement, I mean just moving, whether that be walking, gardening, cleaning your house, just move. It doesn’t have to be organized exercise, if that is your thing that is great, but seriously we all need to move more to remain healthy.
It’s almost assumed in the United States that at age 40ish you will gain weight and not be able to lose it and your health will start deteriorating with common diseases such as diabetes, arthritis etc…
I think that doesn’t have to be the case at all. I think we can and should remain vital and healthy much, much longer than 40 years of age. If there was a silver lining in my getting sick, it was that it forced me to examine the foods that I was putting into my body. I would encourage each of you to do the same. If there is a food that isn’t making you feel good or that you get symptoms from, try and eliminate that food for a time being and see how you feel. Keep a food journal to record the foods you have eaten and your reactions to them. I’m hoping that a paradigm shift is coming in the way we look at our health in America and that health becomes a priority for all of us, so let’s start today!