Ditch the Grains!

Going grain free around 3 years ago changed my life. Migraines, after meal bloating, afternoon sleepiness, brain fog, and sugar cravings are all gone… YAY! 

You might ask, “Why did my body rebel against GRAINS?” & “What makes my body so happy now?”

Well… grains not only contain a minimal nutritional value which makes them unnecessary to consume but also they are filled with gluten, lectins, and phytates which when ingested cause inflammatory reaction and lead to compromised immune functions. Aka, a lifetime of grain-based meals in form of pasta and bread led to all sorts of unpleasant symptoms, which I managed to reverse by finally listening to my body and feeding it what it needs.

Anyhow, let’s start from the beginning i.e. what are grains? Grains include: wheat, rice, cereals, barley, millet, rye, oats, couscous, quinoa, and corn etc.… and yes sorry to bring the bad news but corn is NOT a vegetable.

Now, let’s look at all these anti-nutrients found in grains more closely.


phytochemical toxins produced by plants as a natural defense system to repel predators from eating it. Described by Mark Sisson, the Godfather of Primal Living, as “sticky” molecules that attach to the walls of our small intestine and cause poor absorption of nutrients and minerals. If you’re consuming a lot of lectin rich food then you might be already suffering from leaky gut syndrome, aka intestinal permeability. Although every plant contains these toxins, grains are the worst offenders. Lectins in food can be degraded to varying levels with cooking, sprouting and fermenting. Sadly, in the name of convenience people stopped using these traditional preparation methods of grains. 


a prolamin form of lectin that makes baked goods such as bread and pizza sooo chewy and stretchy in texture. Gluten is one of the most common allergens and gluten sensitivity is on the rise. Some of the symptoms include irritable bowel symptoms, skin rashes, joint pain, constipation, and gas. But, please don’t jump on the gluten-free bandwagon as gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.  


indigestible antioxidant compounds that bind to important minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, copper, and calcium in the digestive tract making absorption of these minerals more difficult. Phytic acid in small quantities isn’t all bad but according to Chris Kresser, a functional medicine practitioner, we shouldn’t be consuming more than 100mg of it per day. Sadly, whole wheat grains that we all have been told are healthy contain the most phytic acid. 

To add insult to injury grains are acellular carbohydrates, which can cause your blood sugar levels to rise and eventually lead to insulin resistance, high triglycerides, and inflammation. Grains are converted to sugar by your body, so basically pose the same problem as sugar. In fact, increased consumption of refined carbohydrates might be partly to blame for rising rates of diabetes and obesity. Another problem comes from the way grains nowadays are cultivated and processed, in the USA for example, a common practice is to drench the wheat fields with Monsanto’s Roundup that contains a harmful chemical called glyphosate. This active ingredient is used to kill weeds and to allow for an earlier, easier and better harvest. By eating products that were exposed to Roundup the functioning of our beneficial bacteria in the gut is disrupted and we are more likely to suffer from the leaky gut syndrome (permeability of the intestinal wall). Got the picture yet?  If you are unfamiliar with Roundup and want to learn more, read Dr. Mercola article

Through making grains the staple of our diet, we are filling up on empty carbs and eating fewer nutrient dense-foods, like vegetables and good fats. You might be thinking, “How do you feel full without eating grains?”.  Well… instead of grains I simply add more root vegetables to my diet. Not only these are high in vitamin A, C, magnesium, potassium, and dietary fiber but they also keep me full and taste delicious, especially with grass-fed butter. My favourites are sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and squash. 

Other alternatives:

rice- cauliflower rice

chips - pumpkin chips or plantain chips

pizza crust - coconut pizza crust

spaghetti - zucchini noodles

buns - Portobello buns

lasagna - zucchini lasagna

sandwich - eggplant bread

wraps - whole leaves of lettuce

That’s not to say I never eat grains. From time to time when socialising with friends or travelling I might have some non-gluten grains such as white rice, teff, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. “Cheating” a little every now and then is much better than giving up on a healthy lifestyle altogether.

I am not saying that everybody should ditch grains completely, as I believe in the concept of bio-individuality so if you look good and feel good on your grain diet - keep doing what you’re doing! However, I also believe that people should experiment with their diet to find ways of eating that works best for them. After all, you will never know until you try it! My sugar-free and grain-free challenge launches again this November so make sure you sign up for it. I encourage you to give it a shot and see how your body responds to living a life free of sugar and grains! Can’t wait until then? Get in touch!


Perlmutter, D. (2013) Grain Brain
Davis, W. (2011) Wheat Belly
Walker, D. (2013) Against All Grains
Gundry, S. (2017) The Plant Paradox 

P.S. Here's another yummy recipe!

Primal Squash Patties with Lamb Liver pate

Squash Nuggets


2 cups yellow squash, grated
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely sliced scallions
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 tablespoon almond meal
1 tablespoon coconut flour
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 long red chilli, finely sliced (optional)

1. Heat up a cast-iron pan with coconut oil on medium heat.
2. Grate the yellow squash and mix with the almond meal, coconut flour, eggs, onion, oregano, and salt.
3. Form patties and cook them on the preheated oil until crispy and ready inside, about 5 minutes each side.

Lamb Liver pate


1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
260g free-range lamb live. 
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
1/2 cup coconut oil or ghee
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea salt 


1. Heat up a cast-iron pan with coconut oil (2tbs) on medium heat.
2. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes on medium-high. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the liver, sprinkling with the herbs. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until no longer pink in the center.
3. Turn off heat, and place everything in a food processor with the coconut oil and sea salt. 
4. Process until it forms a thick paste, adding more coconut oil if too thick.

I served my Primal Squash Patties with liver pate on a bed of avo-rocket… yummy! For the avocado rocket recipe all you need is avocado, coriander and lime juice. Add all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix the avo-dressing with fresh rocket.    


Told you it was easy! Enjoy!

Remember good health and happiness is infectious so please help me spread the message and share this post with your friends and family members. Don’t forget to sing up for the GRAIN&SUGAR FREE CHALLENGE by emailing me on thriveinshanghai@gmail.com


Your Certified Primal Health Coach