I didn’t go grain-free to lose weight. So I was surprised when I lost 3 kilos during my first week of eating grain-free.
If you want the short story of my grain-free weight loss, skip to the end of the post. I’d like to share the back story though, if you have the time. The reason is that the other dietary factors I describe must have all contributed to my grain-free weight loss, so I’m not sure you’ll get the full picture without the full read. And if you’re looking to achieve weight loss through eating grain-free, that might be important. I’m not a nutritionist. Just a clueless mama trying to provide healthy meals for my family, who was surprised by the effects of this dietary change, to her weight.
Changing My Family’s Diet.
Our family began intentional eating after the shock of nearly losing my firstborn child to autoimmune disease three years ago. Some adjustment time, followed by a year of research, then my pantry cleanse began.
My goals were to take the toxins and processed food out of my family’s diet, and replace them with clean, organic, nutrition dense foods.
We’d been free of refined sugar for a year or so. We never ate much of that anyway. And we’d replaced lots of the nutrition poor, edible substances in our pantry with certified organic foods that still looked like the plant or animal that they used to be.
We’ve never had cordial, soft drinks, or even fruit juice in the house; except when the oranges from our tree are ripe and we juice them.
I’d spent hours and hours—and still do, finding out where foods come from. When humans began eating those foods. Whether they provide nutritional value or harm to the human body. So that’s how I knew that another huge challenge was knocking at my pantry door: going grain-free.
Argh. My children had wheat bread or cereal for breakfast. Their lunch usually involved wheat bread or rice, and their dinner included high levels of grain at least three times a week: think tacos, stir fry with rice, or pasta.
Sure, we now ate organic pasta, made from buckwheat or pulses. We ate spelt bread and certified organic basmati rice. Buckwheat isn’t a grain but it’s still a processed and non-traditional food. Spelt is an ancient grain, but still a grain.
We’d completely overhauled our diet, including limiting nightshades (but that’s another post, and not necessary for all people’s diet), yet my son’s autoimmune disease was still not under control.
I’d read enough to know that getting rid of grain from his diet was worth a go.
Time to get back to basics. Vegetables. Good fats. A little bit of meat, fruit, and dairy; for now. I also planned to cut dairy, but again, that’s another post. And I planned to re-introduce some fermented grains and a tiny bit of rice, once we’d reset our health.
Why Go Grain Free?
I’m not a learned nurtitionist, but here are two of the main reasons why I’ve gone grain-free. There are others, like I’m worried about the toll grain crops are having on the planet. But here are the selfish reasons:
- The human body can’t easily digest whole grains. Wheat and other grains are high in energy. And some whole grains are high in nutrients, but that doesn’t help humans much since we have trouble digesting them. That’s a simplistic overview, but in short, whole grains, in the form that we are commonly buying and consuming them (not organic, sprouted or fermented like our ancestors ate), are not as helpful to health as our conditioning would have us believe.
- I was a clueless mama with a son whose long-term health was and is at risk. I’d read lots, and spoken to health professionals; and knew that limiting grains could potentially help my boy’s condition and increase his chances for good lifelong health. There is nothing I won’t do for my son, and good health is my biggest wish for both of my children, so decision made. I was going grain-free. At least for a time, to see if my son benefited. I would never ask my firstborn child to go it alone. My husband agreed. So did my daughter. We were all in this together.
Going grain-free wasn’t a weight loss agenda. The weight loss has me a bit stoked.
What To Eliminate When You Go Grain-Free.
Wheat and all wheat products.
Rice and all rice products.
Corn and all corn products.
What I Also Eliminated.
Like I mentioned, my family had already eliminated refined sugar. We still ate small amounts of honey, coconut sugar and maple syrup. But I do mean small amounts. To the point that I don’t have any sweetener in my daily black, organic coffee. I halve suggested amounts of honey or syrup in any recipe I prepared.
I hadn’t consumed refined sugar for a year except in occasional wine and Green & Blacks organic dark chocolate. Those treats were the only amounts of refined sugar that still passed these lips from time to time, when I started out grain-free.
We’d also eliminated all vegetable oils from our diet, except olive oil. We cooked with coconut oil, grass fed organic butter or ghee, and extra virgin, organic olive oil.
It’s fair to say, I had a pretty healthy diet already and really wasn’t expecting to lose weight by cutting out grains.
- refined sugar, and
- vegetable oils
I also stopped eating these things:
- legumes, including peanuts
- seeds like buckwheat
- wine: yes, gods help me! I went a week without a sip of wine… two weeks, actually. I decided there was no point going grain-free for good health, just to consume sugary alcohol. But I wouldn’t give up my tiny chocolate treats, and probably never will.
What I Didn’t Eliminate, But Probably Should Have.
- Sweet potatoes.
All those yummy, starchy vegetables, high in carbs (and in the case of potato, low in nutrients). In fact, during our first grain-free week, we ate more of them. My son is a teenager. He could eat a boxful of cereal for breakfast and still be hungry. I’m not a nutritionist or health professional, and I didn’t want to put him or any of us in danger by offering a diet too low in carbs. Growing kids need carbs. We all do. I didn’t want to cut all carbs, only grains. Added to that, I hadn’t learned enough grain-free alternatives yet to cut out those filling starchy veggies.
So, I must guiltily confess that along with the organic vegetables, eggs and meat that we ate during our first grain-free week; it was also potato fritters and roast pumpkin all the way!
Some other guilty confessions?
- I also ate bananas. Lots of them.
- And chocolate, as said.
- And cashews.
- And honey.
- And I certainly didn’t give up coffee. Nooooo chance. I even had it with cow’s milk once (I usually have it black), to curb the wheat cravings a little. Strange as that sounds.
Weight Loss: 1 Week
At the end of the first week of going grain-free, despite the fact that my diet had been pretty good already; and despite eating potatoes, cashews, chocolate, bananas and other high calorie treats, I was shocked to find that I had lost three kilos.
To put it in perspective, I’d been exercising and trying to lose some of my post-forty weight gain for more than four years. No luck. In fact, I’d gained weight. Yet just one week of going grain-free and the scales had dropped by three. I could slip, instead of wrench, into my jeans.
I was one. Astounded. Mum.
Weight Loss: 1 Month
After a month of eating grain-free, I’d lost 6 kilos.
Since turning forty, I’d put on lots of kilos. I’d been super thin before, so putting on some kilos meant I became slightly overweight, instead of almost underweight. My doctor was now telling me not to put any more weight on, instead of warning me not to lose any more weight, the way she’d always done. One month in to grain-free eating, and my Body Mass Index (BMI) was healthy again. I was still heavier than I’d ever been, but I was back to a healthy weight.
I didn’t limit carbs, or the frequency at which I ate to achieve this weight loss. I simply cut out grains.
For the last couple of weeks during my first grain-free month, I also sipped three guilty glasses of organic wine per week. So, six in total. All full of sugar (albeit organic).
And still, 6 kilos of weight dropped off of me.
Weight Loss: 4 Months
My weight loss slowed after the first month, to about half a kilo a week. None over Christmas when I drank too much wine. (Oops.)
It’s going to embarrass me to say this, but the most notable difference after my first 4 months of eating grain-free was my waist circumference.
Before going grain-free, my girth was way above the recommended healthy waist measurement for women (which is 80cm max in Australia.)
By my fourth grain-free month, I lost weight slower but felt increasingly lighter and better. I didn’t exercise any more than usual, and I still hadn’t given up chocolate and other naughties.
Still, my waist measurement decreased by 4cm. Lowering lots of health risks for myself.
I can honestly say that going grain-free kick-started the weight loss that I’d been trying to achieve for four years.
Give it a go, no? Even if you don’t want to be permanently grain-free, a bit of a purge might not hurt. I’m not saying everyone will lose weight. But that’s my grain-free weight loss story.
And I’m sticking with it.