grainsI grew up eating healthy…I was taught and always tried to follow certain rules, like eat mostly whole foods, avoid conventional cows milk, take your vitamins, avoid antibiotics, stay away from sugar and white-flour, msg, foods with lots of ingredients, food colorings, soda, eat whole-grains.  These things were always in the back of my head (although I didn’t always follow!)  I went through phases of vegetarian (lots of tofu!) Gluten-free (lots of rice bread and rice pasta!) Low-fat (low-fat everything!) Low calorie (I ate fat-free cottage cheese sprinkled with garlic salt way too many times!).  In college I ate a whole lot of ramen noodles and Kraft mac-n-cheese.  In my 20’s I was married and cooking and I thought a lot about my health but I know I was not really reading labels, I ate convenience foods often (remember the Lean Cuisine cheese manicotti!? my favorite!) as we were working alot and eating out often.  I tried to eat healthy during my pregnancies but I also remember telling myself your only pregnant once or twice so live it up! (soooo much ice cream) and I gained 40 lbs with both of my kids.

Honestly I think your body can take a lot when you are a teenager and 20-something.  When you enter your 30’s your body really starts to change.  Hormones start to change, testosterone decreases, the hydrochloric acid in our stomach lessens making it harder to digest foods, our metabolisms slow down, some of us have kids, we are at the peak of our careers, less time to exercise and sometimes its way too easy to let nutrition slide to the back burner.

When I got closer to 40.  My days of just eating “healthy” seemed to be numbered.  One day I woke up grumpy, bloated, achey and went to the kitchen to make my “heart healthy” bowl of oatmeal and I said enough is enough.  I had not been eating very much sugar for a long time but I ate brown rice, quinoa and eziekiel toast, rice pasta, oatmeal, skinny pop (1/2 a bag a day!) bread when I ate out, along with healthy meat’s and fruits and veges, cheese, 1/2 and 1/2 in my coffee.  All these things that I have been told all my life were good for me.  So what was wrong?  My energy was low, I felt depressed, tired in the afternoons.  I had eczema on my hands.  I would go to bed 5-7 lbs heavier looking like I was 5 months pregnant, and it hurt!  My gut was unhappy with me most of the time. When I exercised I was sore and achey the next day.  I looked healthy, but inside I knew something was wrong.

As we are all bio-individuals, have different genes, different digestive systems, different blood types….one plan for someone may not work for another, but there are certain symptoms that are similar and certain changes that can be made that can work for anyone.  I began studying more and more about different lifestyles, auto-immune diseases, inflammation in the body, fatigue and thyroid problems.

The solution was simple.  Eat whole real foods that have been around for millions of years and skip things that are artificially processed. Processed foods have things added or stripped that make them harder to digest, they lead to an unhealthy gut and cause inflammation in our bodies.  I began reading of miraculous transformations from energy levels to gut health to completely curing auto-immune diseases!  I decided to try.

I consumed the “Grain Brain” by Dr. Perlmutter, “Why we Get Fat” by Gary Taubes, and other grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free cookbooks like Whole 30 with wonderful health explanations in the front.  I realized I would be eating mostly vegetables and fruit, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and good quality meats.  Yes bacon is allowed but this is a vegetable heavy diet!  Even coined as a “Pegan” diet by Dr. Mark Hyman.  As a runner I was nervous as it sounds like since you are not eating grains you would be eating very low-carb.  Some people do this and eat little or no carbs to put themselves in to a state of ketosis where you are burning fat as energy.  I think this is a great program for someone who needs to lose a lot of weight, but long-term it’s not necessary.  What drove me was the reduction in inflammation and the fact that I might feel better, my gut might be happy once again!  As someone who could eat whatever they wanted (albeit relatively healthy foods) for most of her life this new, being 40 and things don’t come easy anymore, thing was really getting to me!

I switched the 1/2 and 1/2 in my coffee over to coconut oil, here is the recipe for my morning coffee.  Immediatley the daily mucus that I dealt with subsided.  I cut out ALL grains, not just gluten. For carbs I eat sweet potatoes, white potatoes, squash, bananas and other starchy fruits and veges.  I cut out all sugar (except for my daily piece of 70%+ dark chocolate!) all cheese and milk, all soy, all vegetable oils (except when I eat out) all beans, (or legumes), this includes peanut butter (hardest thing I did!)  My day look’s like this:

Breakfast: My protein coffee, eggs with vegetables or leftover dinner (yes you can have dinner for breakfast!), banana with almond butter or home made Paleo muffins here. I also eat Quest bar’s occasionally.  They are the only protein bar that agrees with me and the whey in them does not seem to cause me mucus or stomach distress like other dairy products. (pick one that say’s no artificial sweeteners!)  I include healthy fats with each of my meals as protein and fat are what keep you full.  This includes coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, nuts or avocado.

Lunch: Salad with protein (meat, chicken, tuna, lunch meat) and home made dressing made with olive oil not vegetable or seed oils, or leftover dinner.

Dinner: A protein consisting of grass-fed red meat, organic chicken or wild caught fish a starchy vegetable and another vegetable or salad. I learned to make my vegetable noodles so I could enjoy pasta sauces.  A piece of dark chocolate and 1 glass of red wine.

snacks:  When you eat enough fat and protein, you are full all the time and honestly do not really feel the need to snack.  If I did it would be veges in guacamole, kale or seaweed chips, olive oil potato chips, one of my protein coffee’s, grain-free muffins, a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts and raisins.

I can see how this might sound daunting, but if you can stick with it for a few weeks (remember you may feel worse before you feel better as your body may need to detox from sugar and processed carbs) you might actually be able to see how good you were meant to feel!

The results:  After 3 months I can say that every symptom I had complained about before is gone.  Bloating is gone, my weight does not fluctuate during the day, I never have indigestion or gas, my stomach is flat all the time, my energy levels have sky-rocketed, when I get out of bed in the morning NOTHING aches not even after I work out hard, my concentration is better, I sleep more soundly, my mood is better, eczema is gone, bumps on my face are gone.  I am the leanest I have ever been.  I feel like a new person.  Any struggle I had with giving up foods I thought I needed is gone.  I feel so good that I don’t believe I could ever go back to feeling like I did.  I have found substitutes for favorite foods.  I bake with stevia and coconut flour and nut flour/butters. So many yummy options. I use vegetable noodles for pasta, I even have grain-free options for wraps and bread if you miss having a sandwich.

If you are having any of these symptoms, why not give it a try for a few weeks?  I caution against just going gluten free.  Most gluten-free products are made with very hard to digest flours.   People with compromised digestion and/or an auto-immune disease will find sometimes these products are even harder on your gut then gluten.  Giving up the sugar and grains are key.  If after you try it and are feeling great, you can try adding back in some white rice (easiest grain to digest).  I have white rice on occasion.  It’s not for everyone and it doesn’t have to be done forever.  If you feel like your gut is happy, then keep up the good work!  But having a healthy gut is key to good health.  When your gut is inflamed and leaky you cannot absorb the nutrients in your food properly.  Avoiding grains can heal the lining and get you back on track.

There are many books with eating plans in my store.  All the recipes on my blog follow a grain-free, sugar-free, mostly dairy-free protocol.  If you decide to try and have any questions, let me know!  I’d love to hear any success stories!  Comment below or send me a message :)

At the age of 42 my gut is the happiest (and flattest) it’s ever been!!