Tag Archives: grain-free

Burden of Proof (or yes, Virginia, ditching grains really does make you shrink)

It’s been way longer than I planned for it to be before getting back here to post again. Between the kids, the puppy, the house, the job, the very occasional date (don’t get all excited, no I haven’t found “HIM” yet but it sure is fantastic to get out and talk to adults!) and every other little thing life throws at us when we have the cojones to make any kinds of plans, I’ve just been running crazy.

But I promised pictures and here they are. The first one is in June 2013, a week after THE BREAKUP, in full-on uglytastic 80s garb for the moms’ dance in my daughter’s recital. Fat, depressed, sick, unhappy, exhausted, in physical and mental pain. It is not easy to share this picture but I know that so many people (including me, still!) need inspiration, and need to see with their own two eyes that there IS a life outside of the one they feel trapped in. The second picture is from today – January 31, 2014.

june13jan14

I have not stepped on the scale since the last post. I’m fairly certain that I’m at upwards of 30 lbs. lost now. The numbers aren’t critical to me, how I feel is – and I feel great.

Do I cheat sometimes? Hell yeah. Especially if we’re going out to dinner, I will have whatever I want. But I am very careful not to go too far, and to keep myself on track at home because that’s where I eat the majority of meals.

I also feel compelled to add that this hasn’t just been a matter of dietary change. I have done a tremendous amount of mental and emotional work in the past four months. I am convinced – pathological disorders notwithstanding – that it is almost impossible to see long-term physical improvement/weight loss without doing the mental work along with it. I know there are those who will disagree, and that’s fine, but I have spent an adult lifetime battling my weight and energy levels (with thyroid problems on top of everything else) and I can say without reserve that until I began to fix some of the seriously off shit upstairs, the downstairs stayed fat.

That said – I know some of you have been begging for more practical ideas, recipes, meal plans, things you can put into action every day in real life, so the next post will focus on those issues.

Until then, please share your thoughts and stories with me in the comments!

Advertisements

To Graze or Not to Graze?

photo courtesy CC license via http://www.flickr.com/photos/10126935@N05/
photo courtesy CC license via http://www.flickr.com/photos/10126935@N05/

I can’t talk about my grain-free journey without talking about grazing. Grazing has received a lot of attention over the past several years, both positive and negative. In the past few years the idea of spreading food intake out to several times over the course of the day has taken some hits, with some “experts” even accusing the eating pattern of causing diabetes and rotten teeth!

Despite the sensationalist headline, the real truth of the problem is buried halfway through the linked article:

“Indeed, rather than stabilising blood sugar levels, snacking on sugary, high-carbohydrate foods is more likely to make them fluctuate wildly – which can make you feel more, rather than less hungry”…..”If you eat cake or biscuits, the high sugar content causes you to release too much insulin and your blood sugar ends up lower than it was before you ate, as your body tries to compensate for the sudden sugar intake.”

Well, DUH?! This, in my opinion, is the crux of the grazing issue. People typically don’t grab a piece of cheese or some nuts and an apple, they grab a sugary granola bar, crackers, or a bagel – and the difference in the effect on blood sugar is enormous.

That said, some people may do better on a few larger meals, and the most important thing is to individualize based on your own results and instincts, as fitness guru Jonny Bowden discusses here.

Esteemed pediatrician and author Dr. William Sears also has some thoughts on grazing that are worth the read, including touching on his experience with colon cancer.

Still, in my (albeit limited thus far) experience with eliminating grains, I think we may be barking up the wrong tree. Grazing may very well wreak havoc on blood sugar and weight control – depending upon your food choices. We already know that grains, especially wheat, cause blood sugar to spike.

There’s also the problem of the way our grains are produced now compared to 100+ years ago.

It’s not surprising, then, that apparently eating grains has an equivalent effect on your blood sugar as drinking a can of Pepsi.

So what do I do? My approach is simple: I follow my body’s cues. When I was eating a lot of breads and starches I had constant blood sugar spikes and crashes, followed by cravings, which led me to more starches starting the cycle all over again. Therefore, I couldn’t trust that these hunger attacks and cravings were the result of my body truly needing fuel, it was just a vicious roller coaster created by the ups and downs of the insulin cycle.

photo courtesy CC license via http://www.flickr.com/photos/toofarnorth/
photo courtesy CC license via http://www.flickr.com/photos/toofarnorth/

Since going grain free there are many times I forget to eat, and if I do get hungry it’s very mild, just a little physical reminder saying “hey, let’s grab a slice of cheese or a piece of fruit”. I do get hungry around lunch and dinner times, but I am satisfied by way less food. I would say I eat 6-8 times a day, with two of those usually being small “normal” meals and the rest being snacks or small appetizer type servings of food – almost all “real food”.

Although I don’t restrict myself intentionally with sweets or any food outside of grains, I find that I just don’t really need or want them often. I have not eliminated sugar – it would take a lot of kicking, dragging, and screaming to take away the sugar and cream in my coffee! 🙂

Getting back to the point, I think a grazing pattern, at least for part of the day anyway, is frequently a natural result of kicking grains because the body doesn’t get into that craving cycle. There are other benefits of grazing, but if three squares works for you, by all means carry on! This is just my experience with the grain-free journey so far.  Please share yours in the comments!

Getting to Grain Free

Not interested in weighing each chia seed that passes your lips? Me neither. So over photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/averagejane/counting every carb, calorie, and gram of sugar? Me too.

Trends among foodies and fitness buffs can be dizzying and overwhelming. One minute it’s cool to go into ketosis, the next we’re eating like cavemen. Even the non-diet diets – i.e. “lifestyle changes” – can be mind-numbing to real people who don’t have the time or resources to maintain a field full of organic goats and dandelion greens.

If you hang out online long enough, particularly among hippies and natural living type folk, it’s almost impossible not to be exposed to the concept that grains aren’t all they’re cracked up to be for human consumption. Given my own blood sugar challenges while riding the bread coaster, the logic of this wasn’t lost on me. Besides, I’m all in on doing the polar opposite of what the government says I should (cough – Monsanto and the FDA – cough).

USDA_Food_PyramidWHOFoodGuidelinesSummaryPyramid

Before I jump into my reasons for eliminating grains, let me start with full disclosure:

What this blog is:

  • a running account of my everyday journey without grains, including peripheral topics like exercise and general eating habits
  • a place where I will share photos of my visually-imperfect food creations from my mega-vintage (and not in a cool way), regular old semi-sloppy kitchen on my very modest (often paper) dishware
  • a place where I will share my ideas for reasonably healthy food choices that won’t drive you crazy with hard to find ingredients and complex preparation
  • a place for you to share your grain-free eating ideas with me and everyone else

What this blog isn’t:

  • a failsafe guide for gluten intolerant or celiac individuals
  • a paleo diet plan, a low-carb diet plan, a no-sugar diet plan, an all-organic from farms that only grow wheatgrass fertilized with rainbows and unicorn poop diet plan, you get the idea
  • a blog full of fancy, super-clean food porn pictures that look like they came from Food Network

On to the “why”…

One of my daughters has been gluten-free for several months due to severe stomach pain and bloating when she eats wheat. I sort of gradually followed in her footsteps because I feel sluggish when I eat bready food, and a lot of what we were making with the gluten-free baking mixes was actually pretty good.

grainfreeiconAs I read a little more into the potential harms of grains in general, particularly the links between wheat and diabetes and thyroid problems (diabetes runs rampant in my family and I’m already hypothyroid), the idea of giving them up completely grew on me. Concurrently, I’d been experiencing some problems that made going grain free an even more obvious choice.

I’d been having stomach pains late at night for a few weeks. One evening after having a couple slices of frozen store-bought pizza, I had a severe episode, worse than any so far. It felt like I was being stabbed repeatedly in the upper abdomen while someone tightened a giant belt ` around my entire ribcage allll the way around from back to front.

My friendly neighborhood ER gave me some wonderful, wonderful IV morphine and did an ultrasound. They decided I had gallstones and probably gallbladder sludge (doesn’t that sound delish? Makes ya wanna gobble up a big tub of lard, no?).

Backtrack a couple months prior to this attack – I had gone through the horrifying breakup of my long-term relationship. Every woman who’s ever been through it knows what that means. Break out the carbs! And the wine, and the chocolate…and….nothing says “You’ll never have another boyfriend again, fatty!” like crying in the fetal position for weeks with nothing but a full refrigerator and your unwashed hair to console you.

Sooo, once that mammoth gallbladder attack flattened me for two days with a bottle full of Tylenol 3 and regret, I decided I had nothing to lose by getting rid of the rest of the grains.

Now, if you’ve done any browsing of the interwebz trying to find out about this way of eating, you’re probably on information overload. There IS a middle ground, I promise. You don’t have to subsist on sprouts and dehydrated berries or shop exclusively at Whole Foods (unless you want to go totally organic, in which case, go for it!).

Honestly, one of the biggest difficulties is simply explaining to others that you don’t eat any grains, yes there’s a good reason, and no you’re not nuts (you just eat a lot of them!).

Eating to live (as opposed to living to eat) can be simple, believe it or not. I’m still deep in the learning curve though, so don’t take my word for it. Wait, sort of take my word for it, and follow along so we can learn together!

Please share your grain-free tips, experiences, and thoughts in the comments!