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By: Lisa Payne

Back in the day, you couldn’t find a food pyramid without a large section on it that was dedicated to grains. These days, food pyramids seem to have been benched for a more à la carte eating style. Due to a rise in food allergies and intolerances, there is a growing collective awareness that we may not all process the same foods – or grains in particular – equally.

This raises questions about going grain-free.

Here's what to know:

First consult your physician or registered dietitian before eliminating grains. Certain lab tests, elimination diet protocols, and other doctor-prescribed exams can help determine your body’s needs.

Follow your physician’s recommendations. Going grain-free too quickly, without properly substituting them with other healthy carbohydrates like fruit and vegetables, may lead to memory fog, decreased energy, and other negative side effects.

Remember: Going grain-free is different than going gluten-free. Gluten-free means eliminating all foods that contain gluten and wheat. Grain-free means eliminating gluten-free grains like quinoa, gluten-free bread, and oatmeal.

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oatmeal

Why Go Grain-Free?

Some studies suggest that eliminating grains for a period of a time may help with weight loss, can help uncover food intolerances or allergies, and may help to reduce symptoms of digestive conditions.

But if you’re not required to eliminate grains, don’t. Healthy whole-grain foods, which include whole oats, whole wheat, and brown rice, are full of vitamins and minerals as well as these health benefits:

  1. They’re your energy source. And for those who exercise, grains can provide you with an extra energy boost.
  2. They’re high in fiber, which leads to better digestion.
  3. For balanced blood sugar, your body needs healthy carbohydrates. While fruits and vegetables have carbohydrates, whole grains have a higher amount per serving to keep your blood sugar stable for longer.

    Not everyone is going to feel the same by consuming grains, or certain grains. So, be sure to discuss any dietary changes – like eliminating grains or stocking up on them – with your doctor.