So you’ve made your New Years resolution to eat healthier. Good for you! Maybe you are doing a Whole 30 or trying the Paleo diet. Or maybe it’s doctor’s orders like it was in my case. If the thought of taking bread off your plate leaves you light-headed or even cranky, I’m with ya. At least I was about a year ago. It all changed around Christmas time for me last year. I will share that whole saga another day. Needless to say, I have had to make some MAJOR changes in my diet over the course of the last year. One of them, was eliminating grains completely. No small task for this bread lover. If you are embarking on a similar task, know that you are not alone.
Let me say right off the bat, if you are an all or nothing person, this plan is probably not right for you. For me? I needed baby steps and the opportunity to mourn, yes mourn the loss of one of my favorite food groups. This is from a girl who ate 3 bowls of goldfish crackers as a snack on a daily basis. I LOVE(D) crackers, bread and pasta. So if you can’t imagine your life without bread, look no further. I have a plan for you that will take you to grain free in 5 steps. The plan below is simply an example of how I did it. The time frame can be modified to suit your needs. You do what you need to do to achieve your goal. You can do it! Here we go!
Month 1: Eliminate Crackers and Cereal
This was essential for me. It was an addiction and I needed to face this one head on while I was extremely motivated. Crackers (with an added handful or two of chocolate chips mind you) was my favorite snack. I had a REALLY hard time steering myself to something else. Anything else. It was such an ingrained habit. Need a snack?Get a bowl of fishies, the bag of chocolate chips and go sit in front of the TV or computer! In some ways I was like a robot pre-programmed, I didn’t even think about it. Changing that BEHAVIOR was my first task and I gotta tell ya, you’re going to need a plan. The first couple of times I went looking for food at snack time, my brain telling me what else is there to eat besides fishies?. I eventually came up with a snack of nuts and yogurt or string cheese. Whew! I survived that one, but I wish I had decided what I was going to eat AHEAD of time so my hunger and my habit weren’t trying to rule my brain. As far as cereal goes? It was a habit that began since I was forever-ago. Cereal is sooo easy to throw together in the morning. I replaced it with eggs, sausage and sometimes oatmeal (I know, another grain, but at least a whole grain, right?). If you are a Pop Tart or donut person maybe try switching to granola bars. Remember: Baby steps. You can eliminate the oatmeal later in the program. Again, I was giving myself the opportunity to mourn and change the BEHAVIOR.
Month 2: Eliminate All Flour Tortillas, Pitas, Buns, Rolls and Specialty Breads (corn bread, banana bread, raisin bread, etc.)
If you have used tortillas, pitas or buns for sandwiches consider using leaf lettuce or romaine lettuce instead. Did you know that many sandwiches can be “deconstructed” (all the ingredients mixed together) and eaten without the grain? It may require a fork and knife, but it tastes just as good. I have to admit it was really weird eating everything kind of separate at first, but I realized it was only because I didn’t know any different.
Rolls, buns and breadsticks are frequently served with a meal. Meat, potatoes, veggies, roll. It just goes together, right? That’s a hard thing to change, I KNOW. What helped me to get past it is this:
1. Bread is just filler.
2. Bread will cause inflammation in your body.
Inflammation is a proven fact and if you really want to know the science behind it, go get “Grain Brain” by David Perlmutter. It’s a meaty read, but your eyes will be opened and you’ll never look at another roll the same way again. If at the end of the meal you are still a little hungry and you don’t know what else to eat DO NOT grab another roll. It is FILLER. It has no value to you. It’s EXTRA. And not extra good, extra inflammation. Reach for a glass of water or a little more meat and a helping of veggies instead. Bread is nothing more than FILLER.
Month 3: Eliminate All Pasta
Says the girl whose favorite meal growing up was spaghetti. As a working mom, it was also my go-to meal when I didn’t know what to serve for dinner. What do I serve instead? Now I pull some chicken tenderloins out of the freezer (which thaw so fast in the microwave), fry them in a pan or broil them under the broiler for a few minutes, it’s so quick. I can still serve the spaghetti sauce (now used as a dipping sauce) with a side of cooked corn and some fruit and my kids are happy. Huzzah! And the best part? I didn’t have to wait for the water to boil!
Month 4: Eliminate all rice and oatmeal (white rice, brown rice, wild rice, rice cakes, quick oats, rolled oats)
Stir fry was the other go-to meal when I had little time or nothing else in the house. Guess what? Stir fry tastes just as good without the rice and you don’t get that over-full feeling afterwards.
Month 5: Eliminate All Bread and Remaining Grains
I was a sandwich bread kinda girl and I love(d) my PBJ. I ate it every day for lunch in high school. Every. Day. Unfortunately, you can’t really eat a PBJ deconstructed. My palate has grown up a lot and the rich flavors you get with meat and veggies is way more interesting and filling than any PBJ.
For a complete list of grains please visit here.
There you have it! By the beginning of the 6 month you will have eliminated all grains! Congratulations you did it!
As you eliminate grains you may find at first that you are still “hungry” when you are done eating. This may seem true, but I found most of the time it was a trick my body was playing on me. I was dealing with withdrawal. Stay strong and if you find yourself still hungry, drink a glass of water, eat more veggies, protein or fruit.