From Carb-Addict to Grain-Free!
by Guest Blogger, Kate Tietje, Modern Alternative Momma blog
I’ll admit it. I was once a huge carb addict.
I could not imagine my life without grains, sugar, and all the wonderful carb-y treats that go along with it. This was largely because I grew up eating SAD, and I’m sure I got my 6 to 11 servings of grains everyday. I ate lots of canned soups, spaghetti-os, ramen noodles (how I miss them sometimes…though they make me sick now), cookies, cakes, and so much more. I loved pretzels and crackers and granola bars for snacks…. Suffice it to say, carbs were the greatest.
Over the past few years, though, I’ve become more and more convicted about eating according traditional foods, largely by the principles of the Weston A. Price. Even as I was making this journey, the idea of cutting back on grains – or even going gluten-free – scared me. My homemade whole wheat bread remained a staple in my home and my meal plans, even as I strove to add in more eggs, coconut oil, butter, grass-fed meats, and so on.
A year ago we started to see a new doctor, an acupuncturist who also did nutritional response testing. My daughter (then 2) was allergic to nearly everything and we were struggling. We’d already been dairy- and gluten-free for months. My son, too (then 6 months) was sensitive to dairy so we had to be very careful. We were looking for a better solution than simply continuing on our GF/CF diet forever.
He tested us and found that we all had candida issues, as well as heavy metals (despite that my daughter has never had a vaccine, she had mercury in her system). We also turned up as allergic to almost everything, especially grains. “You need to go grain-free,” he told us. “Because of your allergies and to banish the candida.” I did not want to hear that, but I was so sick of being sick that I agreed to do it.
It was hard. Having to be completely dairy-free too meant we were starving all the time. Some days we’d cook a pound of grass-fed beef and just eat it, with sea salt, for a snack. We were on several whole food supplements, too. Unfortunately, I’m extremely sensitive to just about everything (in a good way) and a tiny bit of an herbal supplement sent me into a serious healing crisis as I detoxed much too quickly. I was so sick I couldn’t even sit up. I craved pretzels and orange juice and begged my husband to buy them for me. I sipped the juice and nibbled the pretzels until I felt better. Then we went to see the doctor.
“I just need a little grains,” I told him. “Just a little bit everyday, and I’ll be okay.” He gave me a look but didn’t really say anything. I kept nibbling my (white flour, store-bought) pretzels everyday, and feeling like I was doing pretty well. I thought, I’m just one of those people who really needs grains!
A few months later we were all doing much better. My children no longer tested as allergic to anything. We introduced raw milk (after 8 months off dairy) and they thrived. I introduced sprouted grains slowly, and we kept reacting. But the reactions were not bad enough for me to keep them away from us. At that point I actually had gone for a few weeks without any grains, and I felt I deserved to have them. (I also felt I deserved sugar and desserts, and went a little crazy eating sweets for awhile, too. Cheesecake, something I’d been denied for over 8 months, was a favorite.) That was March, 2010.
By late summer, 2010, I was convicted that I needed to get back off the sugar. I had gotten used to it again, and I craved it, but I didn’t really feel well. I knew it was out of control.
It was hard, but I was able to limit myself (and my family) to homemade treats using only raw honey or maple syrup, and on rare occasions, sucanat (which usually gave me a headache…hello!).
For months we did well. Breakfast almost never contained any grains. Lunch did about half the time, and dinner did most of the time. So half or more of our meals were grain-free. We ate brown rice, organic corn, and sprouted organic wheat when we did eat grains, so I didn’t feel too bad. Being “low grain” became important.
But then I got pregnant. And sandwiches were among the only foods I could tolerate in the early weeks. I got lax and decided that some white flour products (pasta, namely) wouldn’t hurt “on occasion.” But the few times I consumed them – even with tons of fat, meat, and vegetables – I’d wake up dizzy and sick from my blood sugar spiking and crashing. I didn’t forget that feeling. I did not like that feeling.
As I felt better, we edged back away from grains again. And then we got the stomach flu. It was not terrible – my son didn’t get sick at all, and the rest of us were better within 24 hours – but it smacked me in the face. “This should not have happened,” I thought. “We have not fixed our underlying health issues.” My husband, especially, still struggles with candida. It had been in my head that GAPS/grain-free was where we needed to be for months, but I’d been resisting.
The memories of just how grains made me feel (even whole grains, though less so) was still fresh in mind, as was my husband’s complete lack of energy, moodiness, and other candida symptoms. It was time.
We went grain-free mid-January and haven’t looked back. There are moments that it’s hard, more because of the “what can we eat as a side dish?!” question than anything else. But this time, I’m truly enjoying eating all my vegetables, meats, eggs, fats, and so on, with no blood sugar spikes and “blah-ness.”
I feel better. My son (now 18 months) finally started sleeping through the night (sometimes; we’re still figuring out some of his other triggers). My daughter had a couple weeks of tantrums and a yeast-like die-off rash on her skin, but is now more pleasant and even-tempered than ever. My husband is still going through phases, sometimes feeling good, other times not so good still. But he’s got further to go than any of us, unfortunately.
I will say that being able to have raw milk, butter, cheese, and my other favorite dairy foods has made it a lot easier. I know if I’m hungry I can nibble some cheese and have a fermented pickle. I know I can make creamy vegetable soups. I know I can make homemade ice cream, even! I now love things that are creamy and not very sweet. I enjoy small, natural treats.
And grains? I don’t miss them.
Finally, I’d just like to say, if you are a total carb-addict like I was, and you feel like you could “never” give them up, especially if you also struggle with sugar addiction – you may want to consider doing exactly that.
Give them up. Walk away. You’ll feel so much better. And you can do it.
This is coming from a woman who, as a child, used to hoard cookies and candy in her room to eat at night, and who never passed up dessert. Hey, that last part (dessert) was even true a year ago! But the health benefits to be gained are so great. Just tonight my husband was commenting on how much happier I seem now, because my moods are no longer affect by sugar spikes and drops.
Grain-free? Can do! (And if you’re unsure, check out my many grain-free recipes!)
Kate blogs at Modern Alternative Mama about real food, natural living, parenting, and other “natural” subjects. She lives in Ohio with her husband, Ben, and their two kids, Bekah, 3, and Daniel, 1. She also sells an organic skin cream that has a multitude of uses, from diaper rash to dry, cracked feet, to soothing burns!
Kate enjoys everything that has to do with an all-natural lifestyle, even if most people do think she’s a little crazy. Follow her food exploits on the Modern Alternative Momma blog!
Check out the Hartkeisonline.com Resources page to find healthy ingredients to support your gluten and grain free lifestyle!