Week Four: The Challenge Part of the 28 Day Grain-Free Challenge

gluten free, wheat free, grain free

Here we are at the end of what may have been a long and challenging 28 days without grains. How do you feel? If you are intolerant of grains you are probably feeling better. Some people take longer than others to feel a difference. Some people will not feel any difference until they “challenge” their bodies with a significant portion of grains after having eliminated them for a month. This is the perfect time to do that.

In this challenge we have eliminated all grains so we have to be very careful with how we reintroduce them. We want to be able to tell which grains may be causing problems. For some, all grains will be an issue. For others only gluten grains will be a concern. For others still, only certain grains will be bothersome. And for some, grains will not be a problem at all.

Here is how to reintroduce grains. The idea is to “challenge” your body with the particular food in question in a significant enough amount to trigger a symptom. The symptom will come from either difficulty with digestion or an immunological response to the grain. The symptom will be something you have experienced in the past or a new symptom such as headaches, sinusitis, joint pain, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, you name it.

The most troublesome grain is wheat, so start there. Have a significant portion of something with wheat that you normally eat, like bread, pasta, etc. If you are going to have a response it may be immediately or it may be with in the following 48 hours. Usually it is within a few hours. Wait at least 48 hours before deciding if you have had a symptom.

If you have not had a symptom in 48 hours you can be reasonable certain that food is not bothering you. Move on to the next food. In this case I would suggest testing rye. Do this in the same way as described above and wait 48 hours. If there is no symptom, move on to barley, then corn, then rice, etc. See the list of grains here. Slowly go through each grain individually that you have eliminated, waiting at least 48 hours in between.

If you have had no symptoms, then you can be reasonably sure that these foods are not troublesome. However, you still may choose to avoid grains because of all the problems with improper preparation, etc. You may choose to only eat grain products that you have prepared at home.

If you have symptoms after a challenge, wait at least 7 days before moving on to test any other specific grains. Even if you have a problem with wheat, rye, or barley, you may find that you are able to tolerate properly prepared rice or quinoa. If you challenge each particular grain separately, you will be able to determine exactly which grains may be an issue for you.

Many of you may decide that you would like to continue on the grain-free diet. There is no reason not to continue unless you are finding that you are not feeling well on this eating program. If you are not feeling well without grains, it may be that you need more time on the grain-free diet or you may be one of the people who really need some grains for the energy and fiber they provide.

If that is the case, the best way to eat grains is when they are properly prepared by soaking and/or sprouting. Directions for these procedures may be found in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morel.

How did you do on this 28 day grain-free challenge? Please leave a comment and let me know!

This post is linked to: Healthy 2Day, Real Food Wednesday, Creative Juice Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Freaky Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight back Friday, Friday Food. Living Well Blog Hop, Sugar-Free Sunday, Melt in Mouth Monday, Sunday School, Monday Mania, Homestead Barnhop, Tuesday at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday




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  • Cristina Wood November 2, 2011, 3:30 am

    Since January, I’ve gone “grain-free” off and on — I say “off and on” because I did really well not succumbing to the temptations of grains from January to June; I then purchased some artisan sourdough from our local bakery “for the family” and fell off the wagon… But this week I’ve decided enough is enough, and I need to go grain-free.   

    In late January, I suddenly realized I had no joint pain which had been increasing slowly in my hands, shoulders, and hips over the past few years.  This solitary incidence alone was not the evidence I needed to stay off of grains; from June through this past week I would go off and on grains, noticing the joint pain returning with grains and leaving with no grains.  Keep in mind that we eat “traditionally” — breads are only soaked, sprouted, or fermented — and other grains were prepared per Nourishing Traditions recommendations.  These joint pains were only anecdotal evidence, but I am convinced, for me personally, grains should be avoided. 

    Anyone struggling with how to eat without breads and grains should go to Marks Daily Apple for meal suggestions — it’s a real lifesaver!

    • Jill November 2, 2011, 11:41 pm

      Hi Christina,
      Thanks for sharing. That sourdough bread beckons to me as well and is the one bread I will indulge in, but I am always sorry afterwards. In my practice I have seen many people who get joint pain from eating grains and they are not Celiac.

  • Doreen November 3, 2011, 4:36 pm

    We’ve been doing GAPS for 25 days and feel so much better -in so many ways.  Better focus, patience, energy, and satisfied appetites!!!  My husband loss 20 pounds so far- and we both seem to have shrunk because we don’t have the inflammation – also I notice an improvement in my hair, skin and nails.  At the start we had a bit of what I believe was die-off reaction (achey joints mostly) it only lasted the first week or so, but we had eased our way into GAPS intro by eliminating grains/beans/sugar first so I’m sure die-off could have been worse.

    After feeling really good for a few weeks, my husband couldn’t sleep for the pain in his big toe after he ate dinner the other night- he’s had gout in the past (years ago) and he said that’s what it felt like. He hasn’t eaten any grains at all- at least I haven’t fed him any :)- but I did use about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to dress his salad for the first time that night.  Could this have caused it (I know balsamic is not recommended but we were doing so good I didn’t think it would hurt) Or do you have any other ideas what may have caused this flare-up?

    Thanks for your informative and encouraging site!

  • Jill November 3, 2011, 4:51 pm

    Hi Doreen,
    That is so great that you are feeling better and getting results! I’m not able to give medical advise. That said, in general when you introduce a new item and get a symptom, that indicates that the new item may be a problem for you. Also, the only SCD/GAPS legal balsamic is one that has been aged over ten years, however some people still cannot tolerate that.

  • Anonymous November 13, 2011, 11:32 pm

    Great information!  Your commentors had good info too.  When I do finally decide to do this challenge, I will probably really drive you crazy with questions.

    • Jill November 14, 2011, 12:21 pm

      Hi Susan,
      I would be pleased to help!