Should I give up grains, breads and pasta and all gluten containing products?
My professional recommendation is that the majority of people (70-80%) would benefit from giving up all grains even the sprouted versions even if you do not have celiac or gluten sensitivity. Since it contributes to obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer, I think those are reasons enough.
You will not miss out on any nutrients in wheat that you cannot get from other foods. You do not need breads and pastas are part of a wholesome healthy diet. If you are an athlete and are reading this thinking “I need my carbs for energy”, well, yes you do need more carbohydrates than the person who sits behind a desk all day but you can get plenty of carbs from fruit, vegetables, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, raw foods crackers and raw cereals such as from “Mary’s Gone Crackers” or” Two Moms in the Raw”. You can eat quinoa, basmati white rice, beans and legumes. Trust me, you will plenty of carbs! You can eat bean pasta or quinoa pasta if you still need your pasta fix. There are many options out there.
What to do, what to expect, what to eat!
It is difficult to do and so for most people doing an 80/20 diet which means most of your diet is clean and whole foods and then 20% are the refined foods such as pizza and bread. So you do not have to go entirely off the wheat/gluten containing foods to benefit from it, but you do have to greatly reduce it.
For those having any kind of health issue however, I do advise taking all processed, refined grain products out of your diet for at least 21 days and note changes you may see. If symptoms reappear when gluten is added back in then your best bet is to avoid gluten and wheat.
Read labels. You are going to be surprised all the places gluten and wheat is that you did not realize! It is in your canned soups, licorice, soy sauce, frozen meals and more.
If you have a difficult time giving up some favorite foods you can make some of your own using coconut flour, almond flour, cassava flour (plant), tiger nut flour (from root vegetable). It does take some getting used to, using alternative products but you will get there.
The first couple of days you may experience headaches, fatigue , cravings and changes in bowels, but stick with it because once you get passed that you should feel like your mind is clearer, have more energy, improved bowel movements, clearer skin, less joint pain, fewer cravings and more.
The gluten/wheat products you are eating may be contributing to:
Swap out white and whole wheat pasta for bean pasta or quinoa pasta; eat your burger in a lettuce wrap (majority of eateries offer this now), make sandwiches in lettuce wraps or go online and order paleo wraps such as made from coconut or make your own. Make baked goods, cookies, bars, quick breads using coconut flour and almond flour. You will not notice the difference. Swap out soy sauce for coconut aminos, use non GMO cornstarch or arrow root to thicken sauces and other dishes instead of flour, and coat your meats with almond flour, tigernut or cassava flour. Eat flax crackers instead of wheat crackers. Once you get the hang of it, it will become habit. Invest in hiring a nutrition consultant who can guide you to make it easier and painless for you.
Your body will thank you once you have it removed! I would love to hear about your experience of removing gluten and wheat products from your diet. If you have a story, please share!
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
Gunnars, K. (2/14) Why modern wheat is worse than older wheat. Retrieved from authoritynutrition.com
Mercola, J. (1/16/10) The Critical Role of Wheat in Human Disease. Retrieved from
Karen Brennan, MSW, is a Nutrition Consultant and is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate). As such, she does not treat, cure or diagnose. The information provided is for educational purposes only. Seek out your healthcare professional when making any changes to your diet and supplement regimen.
Karen is available for group presentations in the Colorado Front Range area for a variety of health topics; She offers a variety of other services. Visit her website to learn more.