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Is “Healthy Whole Grain” An Oxymoron?

on February 9 | in Food | by | with 53 Comments

I Don’t Know How Many Times I’ve Said It

On Facebook. At the grocery store. Preschooler playdates. But oh, it’s been a few.

We’ll never go back to grains.”

Did I think grains were evil? Nah. It’s just that I didn’t get why I should bother. There are no nutrients in grains that can’t be found elsewhere, right? Right! And they’re such a hassle to prepare too, huh?  I thought so.

It may surprise you, then, to know that I am eagerly awaiting Cheeseslave’s new e-course, Healthy Whole Grains (Soaking, Sprouting & Sourdough). Because honestly, I think I was wrong.

That’s Right, I’m A Flip-Flopper

But hey, it ain’t so bad. I’ve got good company! Abraham Lincoln promised to keep the Union together rather than end slavery. One epic flip-flop later and he’s one of the most famous presidents in history. And there’s the adorable actress Ginnifer Goodwin, who went on a crusade to save the turkeys and then ate one. Not that the magnitude of those two decisions are exactly equal, but you get the idea.

Grains have been getting a lot of flack lately for containing anti-nutrients. But you know what? The same can be said of cauliflower.

“The problem is that almost everything is somewhat toxic, including starchy tubers, vegetables, and even some fruit. Vegetables are full of assorted goitrogens, oxalates, salicylates, tannins, phytoestrogens, etc. You can’t avoid toxins and still eat a healthy diet, but that’s OK because you don’t have to. You just have to reduce the relevant ones to a level at which they aren’t problematic. I believe healthy traditional cultures have shown us that we can do that with grains if we prepare them well, as part of an overall healthy dietary pattern including nutrient-dense plant and animal foods.”

~ Stephan Guyenet, Whole Health Source

You can’t avoid toxins and still eat a healthy diet?!?!? Kind of a brain-bender, huh?

There’s Been A Ton Of Interest In Grain-Free Diets Lately

And that’s a good thing! Protocols such as the GAPS diet take advantage of a grain-free lifestyle to heal all kinds of disorders like ADD, allergies, asthma and autism (plus ones that don’t begin with “A,” too!). Life after ketchup has been pretty awesome for us, so why not make it a permanent thing? After all, if going off grains can bring so much healing it must be because grains are bad, right? That’s pretty much what I’ve thought for the past 10 months.

For whatever reason I tend to want to categorize things as good or bad. Trips to the beach? Good. Micah puking into my hand at Whole Foods? Bad. Grains? As a bazillion Facebook relationship status’ proclaim, it’s complicated.

Our relationship with grains is oh-so-very-personal. For some, our ancestry and current health status indicate we should probably avoid them. For others the exact opposite is true. As much as it would simplify things there is no perfect diet for everyone.

For Example . . .

The vibrantly healthy people Dr. Price studies in the Swiss Alps ate about 50% of their diet as grains (mostly rye bread). When eaten with butter, the phosphorous-rich rye actually increased the bioavailability of the calcium from the butter. Good. (Note: They went to great lengths reduce anti-nutrients – germinating the rye, sifting, and finally souring the dough.)

On the other hand, wheat as we currently know it is a 42 chromosome plant. The wheat of our ancestors – also called emmer – had only 28 chromosomes. For people with good digestion (and who don’t have gluten/gliaden allergies) this doesn’t seem to be an issue, but for others the increased potency of gluten in our 42 chromosome version causes problems. Bad. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of grain varieties that are very similar to their ancient counterparts: buckwheat, quinoa and millet to name a few. Rye is one of the easiest to digest and makes a rockin’ sourdough. Good.

I could go on like this for quite awhile, but instead I’ll just tell you what convinced me.  As more people go grain-free a trend seems to be emerging: suppressed thyroid function resulting in hormone imbalances and metabolism dysfunction. Though Dr. Campbell-McBride says GAPS is not meant to be low carb (fruit, nuts, seeds, and winter squash are allowed), it’s easy to slip into a low carb lifestyle of mostly meat, veggies, and fats by default. I admit I have done that, and in the last couple months I’ve begun to feel more tired than usual. Excuses were easy to find (we’re planning a big move), so I ignored it.

Then I read a post called “GAPS Diet Myths” from Ann Marie and it just clicked: What worked for me at one point (starting GAPS) has changed as my health profile has changed (improved gut flora thanks to GAPS). My body is telling me it’s time for more carbs. Can I eat more carbs and stay on GAPS? Yeppers. Daniel is doing just that. He’s got it easy, though. He’s not a nursing mama! According to Dr. Campbell-McBride:

We are all different; every one of us is a unique individual. So, ‘one size fits all’ never works. That is why we have such a bewildering number of various diets being proposed: high carbohydrate / low carbohydrate, high fat / low fat, high protein / low protein, all raw / all cooked, etc. etc.; and the interesting thing is that every diet suits some people and does not suit others. Why is that? Because ‘it takes two to tango’, which means that there is no such thing as a bad food per se or good food per se without taking into account a very important factor, who is eating it! Not only who is eating it, but what state that person is in.

One Man’s Meat Is Another Man’s Poison

Somewhere along the way I forgot that Dr. Campbell-McBride never said GAPS has to be a permanent diet. For most people the goal is to heal so that we can enjoy a wider variety of foods AND maintain vibrant health. The first foods Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends for coming off the diet are new potatoes, buckwheat, millet and quinoa, so that’s where I’m gonna start.

So Is “Healthy Whole Grain” An Oxymoron?

I don’t believe so. And since I have no digestive issues and no allergies, I’ve decided to transition to a traditional diet that includes some grains.

BUT -

I want to do it different this time. Ancient grains such as quinoa and millet are some of the first I’d like to tackle, plus of course a rye sourdough. BUT IT CAN’T TAKE ALL DAY! Life moves too fast to spend gobs of time soaking, sprouting and souring grains. Fortunately, Ann Marie over at Cheeseslave has promised to share her recipe for a no knead sourdough that takes less than five minutes a day to make. If you’ve ever worked with starter before you’ll also be happy to know that you can stick this one in the fridge and neglect it for months without a problem. Yay! And yes, the sourdough I’m talking about is that gorgeous crusty loaf pictured above. Double yay!

Would you like to know how to soak, sprout and sour whole grains the traditional way? Alrighty then, there’s still time to reserve your slot in tonight’s FREE WEBINAR right now! Even if you can’t make the webinar, you can still view a recording of it later.

Sign up for the course with coupon code SPROUT 20 before Feb. 14th and save $70!

What do YOU think of the whole grain debate?

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53 Responses to Is “Healthy Whole Grain” An Oxymoron?

  1. Aw, I’m only one month into GAPS and thus nowhere near being able to introduce grains again :( Still, I am very much looking forward to that first slice of sourdough when it’s finally time!

  2. This is interesting Heather. My son has terrible digestive issues, and right now, anything sweet or starchy causes him to bloat up like a balloon and have issues sleeping. We follow very low carb GAPS, because we *have* to, not because I don’t want to eventually give him fruit, sweet potatoes, and even a bit or rice or white potatoes. We are working with an MD to get his issues under control, and he is looking at testing for some kind of metabolic disorder, which makes me wonder if I am in some kind of catch 22 with his diet. He cannot digest the carbs without terrible bloat and pain, but actually does need them.

  3. Erin says:

    My concern is the insulin release caused by the carb content of starchy foods and grains. I can actually *feel* the effects of post-prandial hypoglycemia, and it isn’t pleasant. When I avoid grains and starchy veggies (and sweets) my blood sugar holds low and steady, around the clock – but as soon as I start adding in the carbs, I wake up feeling like I’m going to vomit and pass out from low blood sugar, and I’m hungry all day. While eating low-carb, I can wake up and go until noon without feeling like I need to eat. I even notice a difference in my kids. While eating low-carb and grain-free, they don’t pester for snacks all day, but add in starches, sugary fruits or grains and all they want to do is eat, eat, eat!
    If I remember correctly, in the beginning of N&PD, in the chart listing the incidence of dental caries, the more grains a culture ate, the more decay they had (which was still low.) The cultures not eating any grains had little to no decay – right?

    • Heather says:

      According to Matt Stone low carb diets can actually make us insulin resistant and depress metabolism so that we aren’t hungry as often.

      “Despite fantastic initial results on a low carb diet – the low carb honeymoon period I call it, a diet too low in carbohydrates long-term can make you more insulin resistant, slow down your metabolism, raise cortisol levels, trash your digestion, wreak havoc on your emotions, and more.”
      http://180degreehealth.com/2011/09/dangers-and-myths-of-low-carb-diet-plans

      Please note that Matt is not the most “sensitive” writer so he may offend you, but he makes some points worth considering. I am not an expert on this. I posted in the hopes that it would spark constructive dialogue that would help me see this issue more clearly. For that reason, I REALLY appreciate your comments. Thanks, Erin!

  4. L.S. says:

    There are some of us who deliberately want to eat phytic acid. I purposely eat a meal of solely whole grains–such as brown rice–nearly every morning; and I supplement with phytic acid (IP6) every evening. As a 23-year cancer survivor, who chose to forgo all allopathic treatments, I am happy that God created this natural alternative for me. I do understand that some people cannot tolerate grains. But there’s a whole other group of us who who rely on this very “anti-nutrient” for survival.

    • Heather says:

      L.S. – Could you share some resources on how phytic acid is used to inhibit cancer? I’d love to read about that!

      • L.S. says:

        Sure. There’s a lot of info out there on it, but this particular link might be an “in a nutshell” explanation. And I hope everyone understands that I was just putting this out there as an alternate view. I am not against properly prepared grains, nor am I against those who for whatever reason don’t eat grains. It was just a way of letting it be known that each person has to make the decision of grains, no grains, or properly prepared grains based on their health needs.

        There are other great anti-cancer agents mentioned in this article, so the bit about IP6 starts off, “Inositol hexaphosphate (IP-6)–activates natural killer cells, promotes differentiation, supports p53 activity, and normalizes the cell cycle by modifying signal transduction pathways.” Here’s the link:

        http://www.lef.org/protocols/prtcl-027d.shtml

  5. Dan says:

    I realize I’m probably not one of your typical readers / contributors. I’ve just been trying to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle and came across your site after doing some GAPS and SCD research. I gave up all grains for a while, but didn’t give up fruit. I kept carbs at about 40% of my daily intake but was working out quite heavily. The one thing I noticed was even with lots of salads, almonds, and fruit, I wasn’t taking in enough fiber to be “regular”. Recently, I’ve gone back to eating a half-cup of irish oatmeal in the morning and it seems to be all I need. I’m convinced I should stay away from wheat, but what are your thoughts on oats?

  6. Erin says:

    “And probably the most goitrogenic food in the world is millet, and this could be a problem if people are getting rid of gluten and they start eating a lot of gluten-free bread that’s made from millet, for example. And millet basically inhibits every step of thyroid metabolism, and high iodine intakes cannot overcome the effect of millet.”

    Wow.

    Chris Masterjohn: http://chriskresser.com/chris-masterjohn-on-cholesterol-and-heart-disease-part-3

  7. Lindsey says:

    We were on the GAPS Diet for about 2 months. It was very overwhelming for me, despite subscriptions to grain-free meal plans, buying Cara’s 30-Day Intro book, and finding every GAPS blog I could find. I have been having thyroid issues for about a year now, so I know that a low-carb diet is definitely not for me at this point. I am working with a nutritionist to correct this, and she has me on some great Standard Process supplements. I am slowly seeing progress. I think the GAPS Diet would work better for me once I have my thyroid issues solved. Being overwhelmed with GAPS didn’t help my thyroid any either!

    I’ve been sprouting and soaking my grains for a while now, but I’m so excited to learn some lessons in easy sourdough! I signed up for AnnMarie’s class last week! When I finally made the difficult decision to pull our family off the GAPS Diet, my main question was the same as yours, “Are grains evil?” The answer is, obviously, no. God created grains, and there is proof all over the Bible of people eating grains (and milk and fat and meat and fruit). And, after reading Dr. Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, I was even more convinced that people can and should eat grains, properly prepared. It’s a big step to eliminate an entire food group from one’s diet, and one that should not be taken lightly. I think you made a good point in bringing up thyroid issues. Hypothyroidism is becoming as much of an epidemic among us grain-free folk as heart disease is among SAD eaters. From someone who’s been there and is still doing that, it sucks when you’re cold all the time, have no sex drive, gain belly fat, have nighttime cravings, are fatigued much of the time, are constipated, deal with crazy-heavy periods, and go from super-organized to very forgetful. I’d rather have a few carbs while still consuming a whole foods diet than keep those symptoms on a grain-free diet.

    We saw definite results on GAPS, and I hope we can try again one day. I think it’s an amazing diet, and I admire Dr. Campbell-McBride for what she’s discovered. I wish more people would consider GAPS for their families. But, like you said, it was never meant to be permanent. God gave us those grains for a reason, and I think we need to consume them the way He intended. He knew what was best for us a LONG time ago!

    • Heather says:

      Thought provoking comments, Lindsey! Though GAPS does not have to be low carb it does take some effort to get them in. Thank you for sharing your experience :)

    • Erin says:

      Lindsey,

      Have you ever had your adrenal function tested? The most reliable method is a saliva test where you spit in a tube 4 times throughout the day. You can’t heal your thyroid without first healing your adrenals and taking thyroid meds before healing the adrenals can actually make both adrenals and thyroid worse than they were before treatment!
      Your symptoms sound a lot like adrenal insufficiency, just wondering if it was something you ever checked out. Certainly if the GAPS Diet caused you emotional stress, it would further impair your adrenal function.

      • Lindsey says:

        Erin,

        Yes, my thyroid and adrenals are both out of whack right now. I have been seeing a nutritionist who uses muscle testing to find out various things in my body and then tests to see which supplements to start me on. She said her most severe clients are on an average of 4 supplements at once. Up until this week, I was on 7!

        Interestingly, the way this all started (we think) is with my gallbladder. I had my first gallbladder attack 2.5 yrs ago (before beginning a whole foods, traditional diet). Apparently, my gallbladder had ceased functioning at full capacity some time before that, and it’s still trying to recover. What I learned is that the adrenal glands must have good fat in order to produce the proper amount of hormone. If the body is not metabolizing fat (which mine is not) due to thick bile because of a low-functioning gallbladder, the adrenal glands don’t get the fat they need to work. The adrenals feed the thyroid, so poorly functioning adrenals = a poorly functioning thyroid. In my case, all three work together (or, not right now). So, I’ve been eating all this good fat–coconut oil, tallow, butter–and it’s been sticking to my belly and butt because my body doesn’t know what to do with it. Couple that with an overproduction of cortisol from the unhappy adrenals, and I’ve gained 10 pounds of belly/butt fat in the past 3-4 months, and that was while on GAPS! I never heard of anyone gaining weight on GAPS, but it was because I was eating so much more fat since I wasn’t eating carbs. I was hungry!

        Anyway, I know that was a long explanation, but the short of it is, yes, my symptoms are adrenal symptoms and thyroid symptoms. I know what caused the stress to my body before we even started GAPS, then the stress of GAPS made it that much worse. I had lost a lot of my appetite until just a few weeks ago, when I started becoming ravenously hungry. My blood sugar is trying to regulate itself, so I’ve been spiking and sinking off and on for weeks now. My husband has to bring me food before I can even get out of bed in the mornings because I’m so hungry. My nutritionist says to eat, eat, eat because this means my adrenals/thyroid are turning back on again and they want the extra nutrition. I haven’t gained anything, but I haven’t lost anything either.

        Ok, that was way longer than I expected. Does any of that make sense?

  8. I wonder the same thing about the catch 22 thing -it seems to be a concept the GAPS community is still finetuning. Hope you will continue to share what you’re learning as we figure it out together :)

  9. Keira Luntsford says:

    Humorously enough, the studies I’ve been keeping up with lately have been against meat and how we can get all the nutrients we need in grains, fruits and vegetables while animal products are carcinogenic. Really, I think it’s all about balance. I’m definitely not going Atkins, but I’m also not going completely vegan or even vegetarian for that matter. If I had the will power, I’d eat mostly veggies and fruits, but I find that I “need” my carbs pretty much constantly and a little meat every now and then:) I TRY to balance it all out. If you’re interested in hearing the other extreme, take a look at the documentary, “Forks over Knives”. It’s on Netflix. You might at least find it interesting :)

  10. Thank you for admitting your flip-flop. You’re in good company. I enjoyed this post, as I am weary of the many do (or don’t do) and die posts on the real food web lately. “See” you tonight at the webinar!

  11. It really is a catch 22 thing, as is all of life and diet. You do what is needed most at the time. I have this problem with probiotics, my body needs them to heal but they make me very, very sick. The more I heal though (on no grains/legumes) the more probiotics my body can handle…the more probiotics my body can handle the faster I heal over all and eventually I’ll be able to handle moderate amounts of grains and legumes again. For the time being, that means I don’t benefit from the grains and legumes nutrition. It’s the lesser evil at the time. The problem with people and all diets, is that they are trying to systematize things, and frankly that is just not possible with the human body. It is far too amazing of a creation for that.

  12. Well, for my son, he cannot do nuts or honey at all without bloat, so he is very low carb with what he can eat (We most closely follow the plan set out by the website “Healing Naturally by Bee”, in what veggies we have to avoid for him). He did very well on a natural anti-fungal supplement called ADP by Biotics, and I got the OK from his MD to keep him on it as a maintenance thing, so I am hoping this will help get his tummy down again and maybe even start resolving some of the beasties that are causing him the inflammation. I am also going to add CoCo-Kefir products for him soon, to hopefully get some more good live pro-biotics into him. I hope by the time we go back to the doc, I will be able to add some more sweet veggies for him, like carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes. Feeding him grains at this point seems like a pipe-dream when I am praying for pumpkin or a tiny serving of fruit. But I think the ultimate goal for my family is probably “The Perfect Health Diet.” I’d love to make risotto again. I am curious how you family does on the bread though, so i will be eagerly following your results. Good Luck!

  13. Amanda says:

    I started the GAPS intro on 10/22/11. I reversed a 10+ year egg allergy within 3 weeks. I’m very happy about that. I’m having some skin isues though. To make a long story short, I’ve struggled with acne since my teen years. I have used proactiv in the past and it has helped keep it under control. When I started GAPS, I stopped all chemical laden products. My skin was good the first 2 weeks and then it started to break out almost rash like. People started to notice (eek!) and I reluctantly went back on proactiv. This time though, it didn’t work. So I stopped again. Then I read about using coconut oil right on your skin. I’ve been doing that for 2 weeks. The redness is better, but I’m still having breakouts around my mouth, chin and forehead. I knew GAPS wouldn’t be forever, so in the last month, I’ve been having soaked pancakes made with spelt on Saturday mornings and maybe 2 slices of sourdough bread this whole time. My kids are doing great on properly prepared grains. I’m noticing that if I have grains, my skin breaks out even more. I’m so confused and don’t know what to do.

    • Sally says:

      I broke out in a rash around my mouth, then later my nose, when I went on GAPS. I later heard Chris Kresser say in a pod cast that some candida can flourish in a low carb environment, because they feed on ketones. I was definitely in ketosis, not on purpose, but just through the limits of the diet. I was pregnant, so my midwife really wanted me to get out of ketosis, which I added enough carbs to make happen, but it took a couple of months for the rash to completely heal up. I had tried coconut oil on it for several weeks, too, and never cleared it up.

      • Amber says:

        Wow, Sally, that makes a lot more sense to me now. I’ve had a terrible time with yeast/candida this pregnancy (my 5th) and I could not figure out for the life of me why — but this may be the answer — I’ve ordered some test strips to verify. But wow!!
        And HEATHER, I think this whole blog entry is fantastic — we love quinoa at our house… we can’t do millet because my 2 yr old is very reactive to it — along with having anaphylactic reactions to all nuts, peanuts, and dogs, and having celiac — we’re so careful about what’s in the house at this point — until he’s older and can fully understand just how sick some of this food can make him we just don’t have it in the house — he’s the youngest of our current 4 -soon to be 5 — just way too many “oopsies” with generous, well-meaning, older siblings… It is more of an effort to get in the good carbs and mostly we’ve been relying on brown rice pasta and quinoa — but I’d love to start learning more about soaking and fermenting the grains we CAN have.

  14. Aimee says:

    Wonderful post! I’ve been doing GAPS and have found some great healing…but due to low energy and eating high carb and high fat and still having low energy I am going to transition into grains..prepared the traditional way, something I have never done! I beleive with these preperations I can still be healthy. I think that GAPS was good for me for a time but now that time is up. I too was like you once…GRAINS ARE BAD NEVER AGAIN…but well after taking a class at GNOWFGLINS, my mind has been changed!

  15. Kendra says:

    I’m not on GAPS, but am on week 1 of South Beach (which means no grains, sugar, or starchy veggies). For those who don’t know, you do a two week “reset” , and then slowly start adding back in fruits, starchy veggies, and some grains on a limited basis

    . I am absolutely AMAZED how great I feel without grains! I’ve realized that, for me, it’s not necessarily what they add, but what I exclude when I eat them. I am eating SO many veggies, meats, and eggs… aka.. real food! The first few days were tough, but I feel great now :). I have PCOS, which includes insulin resistance as a symptom, and I think this is the way I’ll have to eat for the rest of my life!

    I have really come to understand how addictive grains and sugar are! It really does cause you to overeat!

  16. Henriette says:

    I am not sure that 1 TYPE OF DIET FITS ALL !
    - so honestly I think it is a misunderstanding that all people benefit from grains or the opposite.
    I don´t do well with grains on a regular basis.
    My periods gets heavy and unstable, I put MORE weight on, I tend to get fungus issues etc.
    I can eat smaller amounts of spelt, rice and oat as long as I threat them right ;)
    I tend to keep them in the weekend and feel much better from not eating them on normal days.
    When I eat grains I also tend to start craving sweets and tend to eat less veggies and protein and fat- so for me I get a more varied diet when I keep grains to a minimum.

    • Heather says:

      I agree, Henriette. It would be nice for it to be that simple, but one diet truly does not fit all

    • Erin says:

      Agreed, Henriette!

      Every one is so different. Sweet potatoes don’t work for us because they raise my blood sugar and mess up everyone’s poop. Even my 5 year old has said “It feels like my heart is going to thump out of my chest!” after eating a sweet potato (with chicken thighs, LOADS of butter and coconut oil – so not alone, by any stretch.)

      Periods have been mentioned a couple of times – mine was always irregular, heavy and very crampy for all of my life, until I removed gluten from my diet. I’m not cycling right now because I have a 15 month old who nurses a lot, but my cycles were coming ever 31 days like clockwork, I had zero PMS/mood swings, zero acne, no bloating, little to no cramping and my period was very light and only lasted 3-4 days – it was great!

  17. Henriette says:

    Maybe our genetic background matters as well.
    I am am Scandinavian – Grains came late here – we have only eaten grains in max 5-6000 years and only in small amounts the first many 1000 years.
    Genetic matters a lot in several areas
    I know that they found out that lots of English women can´t convert beta carotene into VIt A
    - I am quite sure the same goes for Scandinavians.( we always ate lots of CLO, fish eggs, eggs, butter and cheese as well as liver) The same applies to veg. sources of omega 3. People from a very fish eating background needs them from animal sources.
    So really it is what Weston A Price saw -lots of different healthy diets – some with grains some without. What worries me regarding grain is not that it is harmful to eat grain
    - more that it takes up place from more nutricious food. Like the practice of weaning kids into lots of rice porridge, pasta and bread. A little might be fine for a older child – but a diet were the majority of calories come from grain is just not an good idea. If You live a life without much physical exercise I am quite sure you´ll need to look out as well for too many grains.

    • Heather says:

      I agree, Henriette. Our genetic background definitely plays a role in the kind of food we thrive on. As for our family, grains will always be a pretty small portion of our overall diet :)

  18. Megan says:

    Thanks for this post Heather. We did GAPS as a family for 6 months and saw remarkable changes in our digestion. Just before starting GAPS, I started getting hives from eating wheat. My son was having nothing that would have been diagnosed by a doctor, but as his mom I saw him struggling with impulse control. My husband was having issues of his own. GAPS did great things for us. We are all able to tolerate home soured breads (something that I thought I may have to give up) and many other grains now. My son is so much happier.
    That being said, after about 5 months on GAPS, I started to feel like I had no energy. It came on gradually. Most people said it was normal to feel tired after nursing for 4 years (2 of which were tandem nursing) and waking up at night with babies for the same amount of time. I knew it wasn’t. I started to feel depressed and more anxious. I couldn’t keep up with cooking and wasn’t playing with my kids like I used to. I had blood tests done and things were out of whack with my thyroid. I called Dr Cowan, who advised me to start eating more carbohydrates and even some grains. He told me that he had seen the same pattern in many patients and that the GAPS diet was a great thing for some, but not enough for others. I was seriously skeptical at first. After putting so much into GAPS, I didn’t want to short-circuit our healing. But I listened and I started eating soaked non-glutinous grains and then sourdoughs. I feel so much better these days.
    Like Henriette said, I think it really depends on your ancestry. I notice that my husband (who is of Scandinavian descent) and daughter can eat meats all day, without giving a second thought to carbs. Lucy actually uses her bread as a vessel to get butter to her mouth, without ever eating her bread. My son and I , on the other hand, are more drawn to carbs. And clearly, I need to eat them.
    I think a lot of the GAPS community is very anti-grain and it’s easy to get caught up in a certain diet’s protocol, while ignoring our own bodies. I think a lot of people could probably live indefinitely on a GAPS type diet. But there are those of us who need carbs (properly prepared, of course). I am glad you’re a flip-flopper and willing to put it out there. Flip-flopping just means that you are willing to constantly re-think and revise your ideas, which is a hard thing. So, this very long-winded response is really just a thank you for your flip-flopping ways.

  19. Aimee says:

    @ Megan

    Your story sounds just like mine. I’ve been doing GAPS for five months now and noticed the past few months problems starting, low energy, problems with my cycle that I had never had before, moodiness. When I committed to doing GAPS I committed, there was no way that I was going to end this two year journey! But when I looked at my diet I realized that I was doing everything right but my body was feeling like everything was wrong. So I decided, reluctantly because I’m a very committed person, to begin adding grains, properly preparied, into my diet. So far things are going great! Can’t wait to make my sour dough starter this weekend! I think that GAPS is great and plan to continue using the ideas I learned in my diet, but I think parts of it do not work for everyone. I was eating very high carb on GAPS, but it was not high carb enough for me. When I look at my life I have always eaten high carb, I didn’t start having intestinal problems until I had three rounds of antibiotics in a row and didn’t know better to avoid them or atleast take probiotics to help me. So my gut got all messed up! So it makes sense that I would not be able to do GAPS for very long because it is just not enough for my body since I have always been a high carb girl, and I couldn’t manage to eat high carb enough on GAPS. I think people really need to listen to their bodies and know that everyone is different. What works for one person does not always work for another. I can attest to this, my mom eats three meals a day and she’s fine, I eat every two – three hours and I don’t miss a meal, I’ve always been this way. I have never understood it when people tell me they simply forgot to eat, I have to eat my body will never let me forget! I’m not over weight and very healthy, what works for me does not work for my mom…we are all different.

  20. Barbara Alger says:

    This is very interesting, Heather. I’ve been enjoying potatoes but will find adding some grains back into my diet DELIGHTFUL!

  21. Megan Alba says:

    You know, I just read Ann-Marie’s post, and then I jump over here and BAM, you’re writing about it too! I’m looking at GAPS but, honestly, my 2-full-time-job lifestyle doesn’t allow the time I need to dedicate to it. Plus, I have some adrenal issues I’m addressing. So I’m relieved to know that with full GAPS, I can still do some grains.

    You’ve reassured me… I was beginning to worry I was going to have to say good-bye to bread forever!

    • Heather says:

      Just to clarify, Megan, grains are not allowed in full-GAPS at all. I am transitioning off of GAPS after 11 months on because I think my body is telling me it’s time.

      • Heather says:

        I will add, though, that Ann Marie has promised to write a post on how to get enough carbs while on GAPS so that adrenal issues can heal. Should be very interesting!

  22. [...] absolutely awful to you? It did me, so I swore of grains for awhile. But as I confessed last week I flip-flopped after doing a serious [...]

  23. Melissa says:

    Great article, we have been avoiding grains for a couple of months now and the results have been amazing. Never knew of sprouted and soaked sprouts. I will definitely be looking into this. Thanks!

  24. Not a fan of the low-carb diets (based on experience) and think grains can be part of a healthy diet. I find that some folks are taking the WAPF diet and making it low-carb when in fact many cultures he studied ate plenty of carbs. This can also lead to a high protein diet (inadvertently, because there’s only so many veggies and fat you can eat) which leads to more problems. None of the societies he studied at more than 20% protein and most between 12-15%.

    • PattyLA says:

      While he doesn’t say it in the the Eskimos that he studied ate roughly half protein and half fat with a small amount of carbohydrate from berries an ground nuts.

  25. Melissa says:

    Really enjoy reading your blog…hope you don’t mind, but I am adding you to my blogroll. Great site. :)

  26. PattyLA says:

    I was hypothyroid long before GAPS. So was my daughter. We also both had very serious adrenal fatigue. A few months into GAPS my health totally crashed and I wondered if I had done something wrong. I tried more carbs, I tried fewer carbs, I tried taking out dairy, and lots of other things. There are lots of opinions out there and you can drive yourself crazy following them but I was desperate and so I followed one after another. Nothing really helped. My daughter and I went on hydrocortisone for our adrenal fatigue. She improved quickly (Kids see healing so much faster than adults) I improved slowly. Then in November I read about Dr Jack Kruse and his leptin reset. I was pretty skeptical but having chased every other theory and getting no where I figured what did I have to lose. I quickly discovered that I was eating lower carb than I had ever eaten before without even trying, and feeling better than I had before. My carb cravings disappeared very quickly and my energy went up. (then I got cocky and switched up my thyroid medicine and it will take me a while to fix that mistake but I already feel better back on what I need to be on). I thought that eating low carb was bad for me and that I just needed at least 100g of carbs every day to function. I was sluggish after lunch eating low carb and craving coffee and chocolate and sugar badly. With the Leptin reset I’m getting about 30g of carbs or less most days and not missing the carbs at all. No more mid afternoon droop. And in fact after I eat a good high protein breakfast (50+g of carbs asap after getting up) I often don’t want much for lunch or I eat it really late. (yesterday I ate my second meal of the day at about 2:30pm). One bonus to this kind of eating is that it gives my liver a break and I am detoxing so much more than I was. My liver isn’t busy digesting food after food all day long and can focus on other tasks.
    I’m on the fence about eating grains. I think the paleo folks have a really good argument. But I also think that with the right information Humans can thrive on lots of different foods. The biggest downside to grains is that they quickly take over your diet. We ate low grain before going onto GAPS 2 years ago and it was a real struggle to keep grains to only one meal a day (we only ate gf grains). We had done strict grain free before that and I didn’t know how to do a healthy pregnancy grain free so I put them back in when I got pg. Now I know that I wasn’t eating nearly enough fat nor was I really focusing on nutrient dense foods and I ate far too many unsoaked nuts/nut breads.
    For me the biggest compelling reason to want grains in our diet again is for the cost factor. Grains are cheap. I would love to free up some of our budget for other things. It costs a lot to feed us all grain free all the time. Otherwise I think we could easily live grain free forever.
    Don’t misrepresent NCM btw. She has stated that her family eats GAPS at home and only goes off of GAPS when away from home. She sees no reason why one would have to quit GAPS ever but she does recognize that many will want to move to a more common diet sooner or later. She does not say that after healing on GAPS that you must move on and add grains back into your diet. She just says that you can.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you for sharing, Patty. I read where Dr. Campell-McBride mentions that they have mostly stayed on GAPS but had forgotten – will edit my post to reflect that. I haven’t introduced grains back in yet simply because we are in a very busy season and gearing up to properly prepare them hasn’t been a priority. However I have made a serious effort to provide our family with more carbs using “allowed” beans such as navy and lima. We are seeing an increase in energy and are feeling pretty good. I’m still curious about the leptin reset, though, and look forward to reading updates as you share about your journey!

  27. Sara says:

    Hi Heather!
    What are your thoughts about the slow carb diet? Where you cut off dairy, fruits, starches and grains and you eat meat, vegetables and legumes instead?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Sara! I can’t say I know anything about it. Can’t imagine cutting out all fruits, though, at least not on a long-term basis. I know some people can’t do dairy and starchy carbs, but IMO carbs of some kind are pretty important. Some people may thrive without them, but from what I understand women should avoid ultra-low carb in their childbearing years (not sure if that applies but I thought I’d throw it out there)

  28. Katie says:

    I would very much like to take this class, but there is no way I could ever afford it. $200 can buy a lot of food for my family. Hope those who are fortunate enough to take it learn a lot, I know you will. I will continue to read blogs and library books for info on soaking grains. Maybe one day I can take the class to learn more.

  29. Norma Tumberg says:

    THis is an old post but I am all for grains. THey are from the Bible times, although I do try and stay away from modern, hybridized grains. I have to watch my carbs, unfortunately, but I love grains and properly prepared they are good.

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