This week, I focused on eating less wheat and adding some fun wheat alternative options into my meals. Just seven days on a wheat-free diet can make a huge difference in how you feel.
Wheat is the most common grain consumed in the American diet. According to the National Association of Wheat Growers, approximately 75% of all grain products in the US are made from wheat flour. While grains can be good for you, most of us eat too much refined and processed wheat.
More and more people are also discovering that they suffer from wheat or gluten intolerances or sensitivities. Sensitivity to wheat can cause headaches, weight gain, brain fog and abdominal pain or discomfort. Temporarily eliminating wheat from your diet can allow you to try healthy wheat-free and gluten-free alternatives.
Although I’m not against eating wheat, I notice that when I eliminate wheat from my diet, the first things that go are the not-so-healthy wheat-based products like cookies, cakes, crackers and other snack foods. Virtually all the unhealthy processed foods that I may have previously consumed are no longer an option on a wheat-free diet. Instead, I find myself replacing those less nutritious foods with healthier non-processed wheat-free snacks and meals.
With two small children at home and a very hectic schedule, I realize that processed convenience food is quick and easy but I know it’s not healthy and I don’t want my family to eat it on a regular basis.
A wheat-free week for me is about trying new things and focusing on eating more unprocessed foods. It’s amazing how one week can truly change your perception and actually make you want to continue on a healthier path.
Going wheat-free for a week can also have the added benefit of weight loss. Cardiologist and “Wheat Belly” author William Davis believes wheat to be the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic. He says that its elimination is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health.
When you reduce or temporarily eliminate wheat from your diet you may not only lose weight, but you may also find that you feel better overall.
Years ago when I first decided to cut back on my wheat consumption I found it extremely difficult. At the time, I didn’t know about all the great wheat-free alternatives available. Since then, I’ve learned of so many great tasting and super healthy wheat-free alternatives that it’s easy to go wheat-free. Here are just three of my favorites:
Quinoa: Touted as a “superfood”, quinoa is becoming extremely popular and more mainstream. Today you can often find quinoa at your favorite restaurant. Quinoa is packed with vitamins and is one of the most protein-rich grains. A few weeks ago, I found a great recipe from Cooking Light for quinoa tabbouleh! If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think!
Brown Rice Pasta: When I cut back on wheat, the thing I missed most was pasta. Pasta was a quick and easy meal that my entire family enjoyed. So instead of eliminating it entirely from our diet, I made the simple switch from regular pasta to brown rice pasta. My kids didn’t even notice the change! My husband noticed the change but liked the new version just the same and both of us noticed that we felt better after eating the rice pasta than the usual wheat-based version. You can find brown rice pasta in all shapes and sizes and I no longer feel guilty for eating pasta! For a quick and easy meal, check out my rice pasta primavera recipe.
Millet: Millet is rich in iron, B vitamins and calcium. It is naturally wheat- and gluten-free and has a nice mild corn flavor. Millet is often eaten for breakfast and is a nice change from your normal oatmeal. It can also be used when baking muffins, cookies or breads. Like quinoa, millet can also be a great base for warm salads.
Some other wheat-free alternatives include: amaranth, corn, oats, wild rice and teff.
Do you have a favorite wheat-free alternative? I’m always looking for healthy and easy recipes to try and share. Do you have one you’d like to share?