January No-Grains-All-Brains Challenge!

FiberFrootLoops-1 I know, I know. The Canada Food Pyramid says to eat your whole grains, and you'll be fine. It also has no problem with this: Froot Loops (Now with Fibre! Raise the Insulin-Resistant Roof!)

Though they make up 75% of the North American diet, you do NOT need grains to survive. You're NOT wired to digest grains properly – we simply haven't been exposed to them long enough, as a species.

While we're not great at digesting most carbohydrates, we're REALLY not smooth at handling processed carbohydrates (sugars.) As we digest them, the spike in our blood sugar creates metabolic mayhem and we board the insulin roller-coaster for hours afterward.

Gluten, too, is a big concern. Most of us aren't diagnosed as "gluten-intolerant," but can still feel a difference in joint inflammation and recovery time after a grains-heavy weekend. After November's Paleo challenge, several participants celebrated with a big meal of wings and beer, or something similar. Their response, the next day? Increased fatigue, joint pain that they would previously have associated with injury, depression, and a lack of drive to exercise.

While true Paleo-style eating is a big bolus to swallow all at once, we believe that we can achieve a terrific start – and up to 80% of the benefit – by eliminating grains for a month.

Yes, there's mounting scientific evidence to back this up. But mostly, we're doing this because we've had enough. Diabetes is skyrocketing, and what's the response of Government, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the education system, the Health Care system, and most 'experts'? Eat more whole grains. Instead of demanding drastic change – which, frankly, we require – we hear it's fine to just add 2g of "whole grain" to a pile of sugar. Fibre doesn't cancel out sugar, folks; it barely numbs the glycemic response to the rest of the sugar in most foods; and the type of fibres that most food companies choose to add to foods (psyllium husk) is hard on the digestive system.

Our system of health 'care' is a reactive one. Constantly playing defense, it's struggling to stay afloat as more and more people unintentionally add to the burden. It's time to stop settling for the bare minimum. Sometimes, it's necessary to experience the extreme to pull ourselves back toward centre. In this case, we're going to shut out all grains (listed below) for January, and just eat like Grandma used to tell us: eat your vegetables. Finish your meat. Dessert is not an everyday occurrance. And drink your cod liver oil!

Call us reactionary; call us extreme. Just don't call us late for dinner. And don't serve white rice.

A useful list of what is a grain, and what is NOT a grain (from grainfreeliving.com):

Cereals_grains Foods that are grains, or are made from grains are:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley, including barley malt
  • Bran
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Farina
  • Kamut
  • Orzo
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Corn – INCLUDES CORN SYRUP (as in pop)
  • Cornflour
  • Cornmeal
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Millet
  • Beer (yes, beer!)
  • Glucose made from wheat
  • (this list may be incomplete)

So any thing made from these products would also have grains – like cakes, biscuits, pizzas, bread, pasta, breadcrumbs, spaghetti etc

Picture 3

Foods that are grain free, even though they are often used as a flour or look a bit like a grain are:

  • Paleo-Food-Pyramid Almond
  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat also called Kasha
  • Cassava
  • Chickpeas (made into flour)
  • Coconut (used in flours)
  • Cottonseed
  • Dal
  • Fava bean
  • Flaxseed
  • Gram flour
  • Lentils
  • Manioc
  • Potato Starch/Flour
  • Quinoa
  • Sago
  • Sesame
  • Taro flour
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Glucose made from tapioca

Healthy_fats REQUIRED READING (Hey, it's January. You have the time.)

The definitive guide to grains

What happens when you Carb Binge?

The Graham Cracker: A Cure For Lustful Urges

The Paleo Food Journal

Grain Free Living

Grain Free Gourmet

Grains and Legumes Cause Discordance in the Human Diet


To participate: Your goal is to eat foods that are 100% GRAIN-FREE (see above.) That includes anything used in the preparation of your meal.

To win: Well, you'll win just by doing the challenge. Just in case you need a prize, though, we'll provide one. A hint: it will taste GOOD.

Getting points: We'll award points based on the following criteria. Points are to be entered daily on our Tracking Site (don't have a password? Email or call!)

5 Points – Entire day, including beverages and all ingredients involved in preparation and cooking, are 100% grain free (see above list.)

3 Points – One or two meals is 100% grain-free, but not the whole day.

1 Point – you eat the meat and vegetables and throw away the bun. Some small change to your norm.

Change happens bit by bit – not all at once. Don't worry about being perfect; worst case, you're only 3 hours away from a grain-free meal, and you can make it up then.