Is a Grain-Free Diet Healthy? Everything You Need to Know

What are the Benefits of a Grain Free Diet?

The benefits of a grain free diet include:

Increased energy levels. You feel energized and have better concentration during your work or studies. Increased physical strength. Your muscles become firmer and stronger which makes you look healthier and less tired at work or school. Improved mental health.

You experience fewer mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, anger, jealousy etc., due to not eating grains. Reduced risk of heart disease. A grain free diet helps prevent coronary artery disease. It reduces cholesterol levels and prevents heart attacks. Decreased risk of diabetes mellitus (Type 2 Diabetes). A grain free diet helps reduce blood sugar levels and control diabetes symptoms such as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, swelling hands/feet etc.,

How Does a Grain-Free Diet Work?

A grain free diet works because it eliminates all grains from your diet. If you still want to consume some grains, then you need to make sure they are cooked in a way that does not result in them becoming unwholesome. For example, breads and pastas can be made without yeast or other types of bacteria that cause off flavors and odors. Other foods like rice can be steamed instead of fried or baked instead of deep fried.

What are the Drawbacks of Not Eating Grains?

Eating grains is not essential to good nutrition. Grains do have their benefits and if you want to eat grains in a meal, then by all means do so. The only time when grains become a problem is when they’re overeaten or when you rely on them for every meal. Remember that a grain free diet should only last as long as it takes to repair your health problems. As soon as you have fully recovered, you should slowly start reintroducing grains into your diet.

Is a Grain-Free Diet Safe for Everyone?

Most people can benefit from a grain free diet. There are however a few exceptions:

Pregnant women who are breastfeeding should avoid it because it deprives the baby of important nutrients such as iron and calcium.

People with gluten or carbohydrate sensitivities should also stay away from this diet.

How Long Does the Grain-Free Diet Last?

The grain free diet lasts as long as it takes to completely heal your health problems. Most people see improvements in the first week. How quickly you recover depends on how sick you were before hand. Some people take months to heal while others may take a year or more. It all depends on your body and the severity of your condition.

What Are Some Great Grain Free Recipes?

Here are some example grain free diet recipes:

Easy Grain-Free Crepes

Ingredients:

3 eggs

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 cup water (boiled and cooled)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. salt

3 TBSP coconut oil, melted

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a pan on medium-low heat. Pour or spoon the batter into the pan to make a thin crepe. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until the bottom gets golden brown, then flip to cook the other side. Makes about 6 crepes.

Grain-Free Turkey Soup

This easy to make soup will warm you up on a cold winter day! It also stores well in the freezer so you can save it for later when that sick feeling comes back.

Ingredients:

2 sliced carrots

1 sliced onion

5 TBSP coconut oil, divided into two batches

¼ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 sliced celery stalk

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp. sea salt

8 oz. chopped & peeled butternut squash (about 1 small squash)

1 ½ lb. ground dark meat turkey

1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes

2 cups water

¼ cup long grain white rice, not prepared (dry)

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 cups packed baby spinach, chopped

Directions:

Melt 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the turkey, spices and herbs. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink.

Add the broth, butternut squash, tomatoes, water, salt and rice. Stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low, place the cover on the pot and cook for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes have passed, remove the lid and stir in the spinach. Cook for 5 more minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

While this recipe uses rice, you can also try making it grain free by leaving out the rice and adding an extra cup of squash. It will change the texture slightly but it will still taste amazing!

Trail Mix

Pumpkin seeds, almonds, dried blueberries and dried coconut gets a sweet twist with raisins, dried Apples and Sunflower Kernels. A delicious anytime snack!

Ingredients:

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup raw almonds

¼ cup dried blueberries

¼ cup dried coconut

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup dried apples, chopped

¼ cup sunflower kernels

Directions:

Mix together and Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Pizza Bites

These are great because you can eat them as a meal, a snack or even a dessert! The crust is made from almonds and the pizza is a mixture of tomatoes, olives and cheese.

Ingredients

1 cup whole raw almonds

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 cups sliced mushrooms (fresh or canned)

1 cup marinara sauce

¼ cup chopped green olives with pimento (sliced olives will work too)

¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or vegan equivalent)

½ tsp. dried oregano

¼ cup sliced pepperoni (raw or cooked)

1 TBSP chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400*F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. Place the almonds in a food processor and process until the almonds are broken up. Empty them into a bowl and add garlic powder. Mix well.

Using a small spoon, take a scoop of the almond mixture and press it firmly into the bottom and slightly up the side of each muffin cup. (They will be full.) Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully take out the cups. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and pour in the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and set aside to cool.

To assemble:

Spoon a little marinara sauce into the bottom of each cup, then layer in the mushrooms, olives, mozzarella, oregano and pepperoni.

Cover with remaining marinara sauce, sprinkle with fresh basil and top with a generous scoop of the almond crust mixture. (I use about 1 tablespoon per cup. Some cups will be more full than others.)

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the almonds are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Let cool for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Coffee-Crusted Lamb Kabobs

This recipe takes a little patience since you have to marinate the meat overnight, but the flavor is really worth it! Plus, these kabobs can be made on the barbecue or in the oven.

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ cup strong brewed coffee, cooled

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 TBSP white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, crushed

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground allspice

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares

2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares

1 large onion cut into 1-inch squares

12 cherry tomatoes

Directions:

Combine the lamb, coffee, oil, vinegar garlic, salt and 2 tablespoons of water in a large bowl and toss to coat.

Sources & references used in this article:

A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients by L Freeman – … Nutrition Service at Cummings School, Tufts …, 2018 – bexleyanimalhospital.com

Consumer attitude toward the environmental sustainability of grain-free pet foods by W Davis – 2016 – Rodale

Diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs: what do we know? by DMP Conway, KE Saker – Frontiers in veterinary science, 2018 – frontiersin.org

Grain-free diets by LM Freeman, JA Stern, R Fries… – Journal of the …, 2018 – Am Vet Med Assoc