Going Grain-Free

Paleo’s been around for a good few years now and so has the gluten-free buzz. Personally, I don’t really believe in completely cutting out a whole food group for prolonged periods of time. Recently, I tried to do paleo and I succeeded for a good three months. But then real-life got in the way and I decided I loved food too much to stick to it 100%. Over my years as an athlete, I also tried the Zone diet (high protein and low carb), we went through phases of carbo-loading, for a while there I lived on protein shakes and carrot sticks (light-weight rowing was tough!) and we also did whole foods, high fats.

Since then, I’ve tried to find a happy medium where food doesn’t consume my thoughts (in a negative way, where you’re always thinking about what you “can’t” eat) and I’ve now got a nice 80/20 balance thing going on. For myself, I find that if I have less gluten, the better I feel. So, I opt for things like buckwheat, quinoa, kumara and my grain-free bread (recipe to come!). If I add in good quality olive oil, avocado and nuts (the good fats) I feel even better.

Because I feel better when I have less grains, I wanted to find out more about why that might be – surely my digestive system isn’t that different to my 6-month-old’s? Might he fair better with less grains too? This search lead me to Dr Julie Bhosale’s book “The Nourished Baby” which she released last year. In it, Dr Bhosale talks about baby’s digestive systems and the fact that they don’t produce the enzyme amylase, which splits the starches in grains, until they’re about 10 or 12 months old. Her blog here provides all the details.

What she said made sense to me and rightly or wrongly I chose to follow it, not introducing grains until he was about 10 months old – although he still only had 1 tooth, not exactly any molars coming through like Julie mentions! Because of this, I had to learn to be a little inventive when it came to breakfasts. Well, inventive from a traditional Western standpoint anyway. Dinner and lunch were vegetable and/or meat purees with olives, cheese or fruit as finger food. So those meals were naturally grain-free already.

mac n cheese 1
A simple mac’n cheese wasn’t on the menu for a while!

What I found really helpful was mashing some kumara/butternut/pumpkin every 4 – 5 days and keeping that in the fridge. I would use this as a base for breakfasts. Adding in scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, avocado. Some days it was banana and kumara with cinnamon or when we felt like toast we used store-bought paleo bread. This is really expensive, so I adapted a recipe I’d been using for years (look out next week for the recipe!). I also made some grain-free muffins (another recipe I’ll share) which were super quick and easy to feed him in the morning.

If you choose to do it, don’t be put off by thinking you won’t have any options for breakfast. Babies don’t know what we are ‘supposed’ to have at particular times of the day, so they’ll be open to almost anything. Get some mashed kumara out and literally add anything to it! Or go for some pureed fruit and yoghurt. We got in to smoothies for a while too, which is a nice summer breakfast option.

Give it a go! And let me know how you get on; I’d love to know.

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