Giving up on Sugar and Grains
For the past four weeks, I’ve been giving up on sugar and grains from my diet and since I share most things here on this blog…I figured I should share this! I say “giving up on” because I want to give up on being dependent on certain foods (physically and psychologically). Before I get into details, you must know a few things:
- I am not following the Paleo diet
- I’m not doing this to lose weight (although I have experienced weight loss)
- Since Adam is following the 4 Hour Body diet, I tend to eat a lot of the same things he does to make it easier
- On the weekends, I tend to loosen up a bit on what I eat because – in my opinion – socializing and relationships are just as important
With those things being out and in the open, I’d love to share my experiences while giving up on sugar + grains. Please know that when I write posts about my own personal health, decisions and diet…I am in no way saying that my way is the best way. I’m just sharing what is best for ME! A lot of these changes were sparked by these excerpts:
“All that literature says is to replace something bad, white enriched products with something less bad, whole grains, and there’s an apparent health benefit – ‘Let’s eat a whole bunch of less bad things.’ So I take…unfiltered cigarettes and replace with Salem filtered cigarettes, you should smoke the Salems. That’s the logic of nutrition, it’s a deeply flawed logic. What if I take it to the next level, and we say, ‘Let’s eliminate all grains,’ what happens then? That’s when you see, not improvements in health, that’s when you see transformations in health. –Dr. William Davis (via CBS News)
As you know, I went gluten-free seven months ago for health reasons. Since going gluten-free, I don’t experience headaches, fatigue, bloating and various other symptoms. Since eliminating gluten, I’ve felt a freedom that is hard to explain. In our culture (and especially throughout my childhood) food tends to become an addition. Don’t get me wrong: I love food. I appreciate good, quality (and local!) food but I believe that there’s a thin line between it being a focal point and an addiction. I’m not going to get into the science of food (because that’s not really my place) but rather what I’m eating now and how I feel because of it!
I have started to eliminate all sugar that isn’t naturally occurring. I still eat fruits, stevia, and small amounts of raw honey. I also will bake with agave nectar for special occasions. To learn more about the glycemic index and how we rate/categorize sugars, check out this article. It estimates how much each gram of available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a food raises a person’s blood glucose level following consumption of the food, relative to consumption of pure glucose. Things like maltodextrin, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, refined honey, and refined table sugar are at the top of this list and are things that I avoid.
SO WHY GRAINS? ISN’T THAT KIND OF EXTREME?
Extreme? Depends on the context. For me, the jump from eliminating gluten to grains wasn’t that difficult. Finding grain substitutes really isn’t so tough. Now instead of a corn/rice flour, I used coconut and almond flour. Instead of cornstartch, I use arrowroot. Instead of rice, I can use quinoa (which is a fruit). I also blend and cook cauliflower to make a delicious rice substitute. With a gluten-free diet, I found myself eating lots of corn chips and white rice and – in my opinion – that doesn’t cut it. If you’re curious about going grain-free, I would check out Megan and Nourished Kitchen’s posts.
THE GREAT, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
So how has all of this been going? The first week was ugly. UGLY. I didn’t have much energy in the morning because I had eliminated all those tablespoons of sugar in my coffee and I had no motivation to go to the gym. I lost 4 pounds in a week without working out (jeez) and probably wasn’t drinking enough water. I also wasn’t used to increasing my portion sizes in order to make up for all those missed simple carbs. I had to remind myself to add beans or lentils to my dinner and to snack often on nuts or seeds.
The second week wasn’t ugly but I still felt bad. I was gaining my energy back but I was annoyed at my options. I wasn’t exploring new recipes or substitues. I wanted to gag at the thought of eating any meat. I needed to regroup and everything changed when I found Elena’s Pantry and all her amazing grain-free recipes.
The past two weeks have been great. I’ve been baking and cooking a lot more and have figured out my “groove.” I don’t rely on food as a motivator but I’ve begun to enjoy it again. I tend to relax on the weekends and can sometimes revert back to just a gluten-free diet while allowing myself to eat a hot dog from Dirty Franks or a Udi’s bagel for breakfast. After a month of “relaxed” weekends, I did realize that re-introducing refined sugar as a “treat” isn’t worth it. My heart tends to beat fast, I get overheated and tend to nap a lot after the crash.
FAVORITE RECIPES + BRANDS
Here is a list of all my favorite recipes + resources:
- My gluten/grain free Pinterest board
- Sarah Wilson : I Quit Sugar
- Elena’s Pantry
- Punchfork (Paleo tends to be more grain-free)
Like I said a few times, I will never tell anyone that they should go gluten, grain or sugar free. This is something that I’ve decided to do personally and love the way that I feel after having made these choices. Let me know if you have any recommendations or suggestions below in the comment section!
*TOP PHOTO SOURCE