More and more people are adopting grain free diets these days. Many people have no choice – they’re forced to forego many grain products because of celiac disease. The gluten in wheat, rye, barley and some other grains can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and damage to the lining of the small intestine in people who have celiac disease.
Others perceive benefits in a grain free lifestyle that have nothing to do with a medical condition. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Paleo diet. This means simply eating only foods that our Paleolithic (cave man) ancestors consumed. Until man learned how to process foods, grains were not eaten. Advocates of the Paleo diet believe that a grain free diet is conducive to weight loss – cave men weren’t fat. One could argue the point that cave men didn’t carry around excess weight because they got a good deal more exercise just going about the business of staying alive than we do today, but the fact remains that many people do lose weight on a Paleo diet.
If you have celiac disease, you have to give up not just grains, but grain-related foods like spelt, faro, bulgur, kamut and spelt. You’ll also have to be very careful with processed foods that could contain gluten-based additives, and anything that could have been cross-contaminated due to gluten exposure.
If you want to try a grain free diet as a means of achieving weight loss or other health benefits, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. However, you will need to eat a variety of other foods that contain B vitamins, iron, fibre, and various minerals. These are compounds that are credited with lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer. Choose dark green, leafy vegetables and a variety of other vegetables and fruits. Also, include low fat dairy products and lean meats, fish and poultry.
Because there are so many essential nutrients in grain products, you will have to be vigilant in choosing foods that replace the missing nutrients. You might also want to add a good multivitamin to your daily regimen, and perhaps a tablespoon of fish oil. A nutritionist can also advise you on which foods are best. If you are in doubt as to whether following a grain free diet is right for you, seek the advice of your family doctor.