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!