Should You Go Grain-Free? An Interview With Ann Marie Michaels

In light of Ann Marie’s upcoming e-course in how to prepare Healthy, Whole Grains, I thought I’d ask her a few burning questions that I know many of you share with me.

It’s no secret that I eat a mostly grain-free diet. All you have to do is look at the recipes that I’ve posted and you can see the evolution from this Sausage & Swiss Stuffed French Toast made with store-bought sourdough bread, to this Soaked Zucchini Bread when I started making my own breads using whole grains, to the slew of grain-free recipes I post now like this Berry “Pancake” Souffle.

I’ve never avoided grains for health or digestive reasons. I’ve avoided them because I value my kitchen time too much to waste it experimenting with sprouting, drying, grinding, soaking, kneading, waiting, baking, waiting, and baking. I had a season of doing all that, but I never hit upon a system to make it any less work.

Ann Marie has.

In her upcoming class, she promises to teach us how to make the beautiful sourdough bread pictured above in less than 5 minutes a day! (And that’s just one goody I got her to share with me in our interview.)

So, without further ado, here are my questions and her answers:

1) In the alternative health community, it seems like a lot of people are experimenting with going grain-free to either lose weight or cope with digestive problems. A lot of them are experiencing success. Do you think it’s ever appropriate to go completely grain-free?

I do think it’s good to go grain-free for a period of time if you have food allergies or other symptoms of digestive problems.

Food allergies are caused by abnormal gut flora (not enough good bacteria and too much bad or pathogenic bacteria). We are seeing a lot of gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance and other food allergies lately because so many of us grew up on antibiotics. The birth control pill also kills off good gut flora.

I reversed my gluten intolerance in my 20s by going on a gluten-free, sugar-free, starch-free diet (very similar to the GAPS Diet). I also took strong probiotics to help rebuild my gut flora. It took a couple of years for my body to heal, but after that I could eat wheat and sugar and starches again with no problems.

As far as weight loss is concerned, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding this topic. Many people find that they lose weight on a low-carb, grain-free diet. However, over time, for many people, the weight either comes back or they experience other health problems. Low metabolism and hormonal issues are common problems. That’s what happened to me.

2) Some would argue that all grains are bad for everyone, period. Others argue specifically against gluten-containing grains. How do you respond to these critics?

There is no evidence that all grains are bad for everyone. Humans have been thriving on whole grains for thousands of years.

All grains have anti-nutrients. You may have heard of phytic acid, for example. Grains also contain enzyme inhibitors. These anti-nutrients actually block minerals so you can’t absorb them.

This is why we soak or sprout grains — to neutralize the anti-nutrients and to deactivate the enzyme inhibitors. Whole grains actually contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. For example, they are especially high in magnesium and zinc, which many of us are deficient in. But you have to soak or sprout them to unlock and release these nutrients.

If you think it’s just grains that contain these anti-nutrients, that’s not true. They are also found in all nuts, seeds, beans, and in “healthy” vegetables like dark leafy greens as well as cauliflower and beets. So the issue is not that whole grains are bad for you — but rather that they need to be properly prepared.

This is why I disagree that we need to cut out grains. Should we also cut out nuts, seeds, and beans?  PS: Good luck getting ANY magnesium if you attempt eliminating all of those foods from your diet.

And what about beets and  spinach and kale? Should we cut those out, too?

The answer is: Of course not! Leafy greens and other vegetables are perfectly healthy as long as they are properly prepared — they must be cooked or fermented.

3) I understand you tried a low-carb, relatively grain-free diet to lose weight for good number of years. How successful were you?

Low-carb and low- to no-grains did not work for me at all.

Here’s my story:

I gained extra weight after I had my first child in 2007. I knew it was largely hormonal, since I’ve pretty much always been slim and could eat whatever I want without gaining weight.

I had my hormones checked and found out that my cortisol was high (Hello, belly! Excess cortisol makes people gain weight around the mid-section).

I also had a chronically low body temperature. I was averaging in the low 97s. I know this is a sign of low thyroid. I have other symptoms of low thyroid, including heavy menstrual periods and little red spots that started appearing all over my body in the past few years since I have been doing low-carb and minimal grains.

I lost about 10-15 pounds on a low-carb diet (the 4-Hour Body diet which actually promotes eating a high-carb diet once every 7 days). But then I stalled out on it and couldn’t lose any more. It didn’t matter if I ate just 1000-1200 calories per day. I could not lose an ounce.

So I finally decided that it was time to heal my hormones. I knew that if I could increase my body temperature and get my thyroid working properly, and lower the cortisol, that I would eventually start to lose weight. Or at the very least, my body would balance and I would become the weight I’m supposed to be. (A lot of people think they should be leaner than they actually should to be healthy.)

So last October, I decided to go for it. I more than doubled my caloric intake and stopped worrying about carbs. I made myself eat 3 meals a day, and I would often also eat snacks. I wasn’t hungry at first, especially in the morning, but I ate anyway, and in time, I got hungrier and hungrier.

I now realize the lack of hunger was due to deficiencies in magnesium and zinc. Incidentally, some of the best sources of magnesium and zinc are whole grains, which I was restricting!

Fast forward to now. I’m still eating double the calories and probably triple the carbs that I used to. I don’t know if my weight is the same because I stopped weighing myself. However, I’m still wearing the same size jeans and my measurements are exactly the same.

The best news? My body temperature has risen from the low 97s to a daily average of around 98.2. My temperature is also starting to stabilize, which means my adrenals are getting stronger. I’m also not lying in bed for hours every night (high cortisol at night due to hypoglycemia causes insomnia).

Also, my menstrual cycle is starting to normalize. The painful cramping has gotten about 50% better. And those red spots on my skin? They are starting to fade from red to pink.

According to Matt Stone, “As you lose weight, metabolism slows down.  As metabolism slows down, you form fewer and fewer red blood cells (and platelets, and leukocytes, etc.) – the result being “too little blood,” basically what the word “anemia” means.”

Interestingly, I noticed the biggest changes for the better in the spots and the menstrual cycle just in the past month — and I’ve been eating grains for breakfast, lunch and dinner (testing all these recipes for my class).

I believe that when my body temperature gets up to normal (98.6 F) I will probably lose more weight. But if I don’t, then I’m meant to be this weight and that’s fine by me. I’m not overweight, just a little more curvy than I used to be.

And if I had to choose, I’d rather be a little plump and have normal periods and normal blood platelet functioning and hot, healthy hormones than be super lean. I’m not sure super lean is healthy. Look at the women who lived 50-100 years ago. They were not super model thin.

4) What are properly-prepared grains? Why do grains need special preparation to make them easier to digest?

Throughout history, humans have soaked, sprouted and used sourdough to prepare grains prior to eating. It’s only in the past hundred years or so that we’ve gotten away from these traditional practices.

With the introduction of modern commercial yeast and the move away from sourdough and soaking biscuits in buttermilk or clabbered milk, we’ve opted for convenience over health. (A familiar story!)  It was common in our great-grandparents’ time to soak oatmeal overnight. Rice was traditionally soaked as well.

Case in point. In the early 1900s, for example, in the American South, people were using corn more frequently in their cooking for corn breads, corn grits, etc. However, unlike our neighbors in Central and South America who were soaking grains, we Americans were not soaking it. As a result, we saw an epidemic of Pellagra — 100,000 afflicted in 1916.

According to Wikipedia:

“The traditional food preparation method of corn, nixtamalization, by native New World cultivators who had domesticated corn required treatment of the grain with lime, an alkali. It has now been shown that the lime treatment makes niacin nutritionally available and reduces the chance of developing pellagra. When corn cultivation was adopted worldwide, this preparation method was not accepted because the benefit was not understood. The original cultivators, often heavily dependent on corn, did not suffer from pellagra. Pellagra became common only when corn became a staple that was eaten without the traditional treatment.”

(Source: Wikipedia)

When we properly prepare whole grains, they are easy to digest and we can absorb all the vitamins and minerals from them. This is assuming that one has a healthy gut. If one does not have a healthy gut and has trouble digesting grains or other foods, see my answer to question # 1. I argue that it’s not the grains that are the problem; it’s the antibiotics and other pills. (Not to mention chlorinated water and a lack of fermented foods in our diet.)

5) Now that you’ve re-introduced properly-prepared grains into your diet, how has your health been affected?

Here’s the short version: no weight gain, my temperature has come up dramatically and is stabilizing, my blood platelet count seems to be coming up (as evidenced by the red spots fading to pink), my menstrual cycle is normalizing, and my insomnia is gone.

I have written elsewhere that I am very skeptical about removing whole food groups from one’s diet. We claim to follow a “traditional foods diet” and yet how many of us really eat the way our ancestors did? Many of us don’t eat organ meats, for example. We’re eating lots of chicken breasts instead. But our ancestors ate the whole animal.

Consider the Swiss villagers studied by Dr. Weston Price. They ate a diet consisting of around 50% raw dairy (cheese, butter and cream) and 50% sourdough rye bread. They ate liver once a week, and in the spring and summer, they ate some vegetables. But their diet primarily consisted of dairy and bread. There are many benefits to eating cheese with bread.

For one, cheese is high in calcium. Whole grains are high in magnesium. It’s important to have the right ratio of calcium to magnesium. If you’re only eating foods high in calcium because you’ve cut out grains, that can really mess you up.

I’m not giving up my cheese and raw milk — these are some of my favorite foods. So I’m keeping the whole grains to go with them.

6) Many argue that properly-preparing grains is a lot of work. I know I pretty much abandoned almost all grains aside from rice a couple of years ago because all the sprouting, grinding, and baking seemed too hard to do with three young kids hanging on to me. While I do love to cook, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to meal planning. Do you think your class will help moms like me?

I had the same experience in 2007 when I first discovered traditional foods. We ended up just eating soaked rice, store-bought rice pasta and sprouted bread, and for the most part, I avoided grains.

But I missed eating tortilla chips with guacamole. And nachos! So I learned how to soak corn and make my own tortillas, and fry them for tortilla chips. I found out it was actually quite easy to do.

Next I tackled sourdough bread making and then pizza and pasta and even bagels and English muffins. I found out that none of these things are hard to make and they require very little effort.

7) I’ve also tried working with sourdough. After a couple of flops (loaves that were bricks), I gave up. Do you think your class will help those of us who are sourdough incompetents?

I had the exact same experience with sourdough. And then a friend of mine taught me her method for artisanal no-knead sourdough bread. My life was changed! I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get a sourdough starter going, keep it alive (you can store it in the fridge and neglect it for several months), and make delicious bread with hardly any effort. (AND YES, THAT IS THE BREAD PICTURED ABOVE!)

Here’s how easy it is:

1. Take some of your sourdough starter out of the fridge.
2. Feed it 2-3 times over the course of 24 hours (start at 7 am, again at 3 pm and then, if necessary, again at 11 pm).
3. The next day, toss some activated starter, flour, water, and a bit of salt into a bowl.
4. Cover and let it sit there for 18 hours.
5. Preheat your oven and bake your bread.

Oh, and many people will bake a couple loaves on the weekend so you don’t have to mess with it during the weekend. With your leftover starter, you have waffles or pancakes on Sunday.

You can also freeze the loaves of bread and the waffles. We like eating “Eggo” toaster waffles for breakfast throughout the week.

The biggest factors for successful sourdough bread are:

1. Having an active starter – it should be super bubbly like Champagne
2. The temperature of your kitchen – in my class, I recommend buying a $10 indoor thermometer so you can keep your starter and your dough at the perfect temperature.
3. Using enough white flour. Most people are not used to 100% whole grain bread. You can add some white flour to your sourdough bread (I use up to 30-50% white flour) to make it more palatable to people with modern white-bread tastes.

Let’s all thank Ann Marie for her time in answering these questions! Also, if you have anything else you’re dying to ask her about her experience with grains, please do so in the comments below. I know she’d love to hear from you!

And, if you haven’t already done so, go watch her FREE WEBINAR on how to prepare healthy, whole grains right now! It’s super-informative and an excellent introduction to this subject.

(photo by Cheeselsave)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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40 Responses to Should You Go Grain-Free? An Interview With Ann Marie Michaels
  1. Kendahl @ Our Nourishing Roots
    February 6, 2012 | 6:08 pm

    What a great interview. I too have been reintroducing grains and finding that they are not so bad after all (is it just human nature to be black and white? because I was thinking grains were the devil there for a while on GAPS).

    I have also been eating more carbs and seen my temperature go up. Fun stuff :)

  2. Mandy Graybeal
    February 6, 2012 | 8:49 pm

    This interview could not be more perfectly timed! I’ve been on GAPS for about a year now. We’ve had tremendous results and are so thankful for the GAPS program and how it is helping us heal.

    However, I’m now pregnant and find myself intensely craving carbs and grains. I’ve been frightened to eat them – afraid of damaging the gut and or blowing up like a blimp.

    Now, I think I will start introducing some soaked grains gradually into our diet again.

    Thank you!
    Mandy

  3. Sherri@Serenity Gulch Farm
    February 6, 2012 | 8:50 pm

    Just wondering how you respond to Robb Wolf and other Paleo Diet proponents who claim that archaeological evidence shows that humans decreased in stature and developed more chronic diseases when they started eating grains.

    I’ve lost 10 lbs on Paleo but my loss is stalled out. I also have a low body temp and spotty periods. The issue is I work full time in addition to our farm and have 2 young children. I barely have time to cook dinner in the evenings, much less have time to feed a sourdough starter 3times a day

    • Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE
      February 7, 2012 | 9:52 am

      That comment was getting long so I started a new one.

      Here’s a really interesting article that makes the argument that when humans decreased in stature, it actually happened BEFORE the advent of agriculture:

      http://paleovegan.blogspot.com/2011/12/coming-up-short-grain-blamers-and.html

      He posits that humans got shorter due to climate change:

      “So, it’s not just that the world was getting warmer, and animals getting smaller as a result. It’s also that the global climate was stabilizing after a long period of upheaval and chaos. The profile of selective pressures faced by our ancestors was changing in spectacular ways.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergmann%27s_rule

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen%27s_rule

      Pretty interesting and worth reading.

      “I’ve lost 10 lbs on Paleo but my loss is stalled out. I also have a low body temp and spotty periods. The issue is I work full time in addition to our farm and have 2 young children. I barely have time to cook dinner in the evenings, much less have time to feed a sourdough starter 3 times a day”

      You sound a lot like me! I experienced the same stall in weight loss and also had the symptoms of hypothyroidism on the a more low-carb paleo diet. The fact that my temperature has come up from the low 97s to averaging around 98.2 in the past few months since I started eating more carbs and a lot more grains is amazing to me.

      You don’t have to feed sourdough starter 3 times a day. You only have to feed it 2-3 times just when you’re getting it going. That said, you don’t even have to use sourdough starter if it’s too much trouble for you. You can use sprouted flour and instant yeast. I haven’t decided yet but I may also teach that method in my class for people who don’t want to use sourdough.

      Furthermore, you don’t even have to make bread. It’s easy to make other kinds of foods from whole grains — pancakes are fast and easy as is oatmeal and soaked muffins, soaked rice, couscous, quinoa, etc.

    • Cory
      February 16, 2012 | 11:39 am

      One thing I’ve been wondering for a while – the claim that our neolithic ancestors wouldn’t have collected large amounts of grain at a time – I live on the plains. There’s not much but grass, and it all goes to seed at once. Plenty of grain for the taking, not much effort. Seems to not quite mesh up with the Paleo philosophy…?

  4. Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE
    February 7, 2012 | 9:38 am

    Regarding the fact that humans decreased in stature and developed more chronic disease when they started eating grains:

    It’s hard to say what they were eating. First of all, I would bet that most people in ancient early agricultural times were not eating a lot of meat. Most people were serfs (90% of people in the middle ages were peasants http://library.thinkquest.org/10949/fief/lofeudal.html) and were poor, so they were probably not eating a very nutrient-dense diet like their hunter gather ancestors were.

    According to one source, they were only eating around 10% meat. “Early Neolithic,” i.e., agriculture first spreads widely: As diet becomes more agricultural, it also becomes more vegetarian in character — relatively much less meat at roughly 10% of the diet, and much more plant food, much of which was grain-based.” http://www.beyondveg.com/nicholson-w/angel-1984/angel-1984-1a.shtml

    I suppose you could blame their deteriorated health and shorter stature on grains, but that seems silly to me since there were so many other factors at play. Like the fact that they probably didn’t get to eat a lot of meat or fish since they were poor.

    Even Loren Cordain, one of the founding fathers of the paleo movement, admits that people have been healthier in the past 100 years than they were for centuries or even millenia eating agricultural foods:

    “Loren Cordain: The fossil record indicates that early farmers, compared to their hunter-gatherer predecessors had a characteristic reduction in stature, an increase in infant mortality, a reduction in life span, an increased incidence of infectious diseases, an increase in iron deficiency anemia, an increased incidence of osteomalacia, porotic hyperostosis and other bone mineral disorders and an increase in the number of dental caries and enamel defects. Early agriculture did not bring about increases in health, but rather the opposite. It has only been in the past 100 years or so with the advent of high tech, mechanized farming and animal husbandry that the trend has changed.http://chetday.com/cordaininterview.htm

    One explanation may be that people in modern times can afford to eat more meat and fish. Most people today will eat some form of protein — either dairy, egg or meat — at every single meal. That probably wasn’t true for 90% of people in the middle ages and ancient times, because they were very poor.

    • Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE
      February 7, 2012 | 9:52 am

      Oops sorry those comments ended up one beneath the other. Hopefully that will make sense!

      • Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE
        February 7, 2012 | 9:53 am

        Actually they are not showing up yet because they need to be moderated. I am sure it is because I included too many URLs and it set off the spam filter.

    • Lance R.
      February 7, 2012 | 12:39 pm

      Does this mean that I am a shorty by past standards?
      I am 6’4″, my brothers are 6′ and 6’2″. My mother was 5’11″, my Father is 6″+, almost all of my cousins are of considerable stature. Just call me shorty, shorty ;)

  5. Celia
    February 7, 2012 | 12:28 pm

    Interesting article. I went from GF (non-traditional grain prep) to strict paleo and am now headed back toward some traditionally-prepared GF grains/pseudo-grains because of magnesium in particular. I have a hard time accepting paleo dogma if it means I’ll have to continually supplement with something and couldn’t possibly get it in my diet. Grains are not a significant part of my life, but I’ve considered the occasional appearance of sourdough buckwheat pancakes and the like to be at least not harmful. (I also do horribly on a low-carb diet, I’ve found.) Thank you for the wonderful links!

  6. Lance R.
    February 7, 2012 | 12:32 pm

    Ann Marie,
    Enjoyed reading through this. Now I am hungry for some bread. I noticed that when I buy Arnold whole wheat bread, it does not give me gas, but Wegmans brand whole wheat (the local market) does. Do you know what could be different? They both seem to be the same on paper, but I don’t trust anyone who stands to make a buck.

    • Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE
      February 7, 2012 | 1:54 pm

      Hi, Lance

      I looked up the ingredients. I noticed that Wegman’s does contain a small amount of soy flour. It isn’t a lot of soy flour (less than 2%) however that could be what is causing your gas. Unfermented soy is very hard to digest.

      Wegman’s Whole Wheat Bread:

      Stoneground Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Honey. Contains 2% or Less of the Following: Soybean Oil, Sugar, Yeast, Salt, Emulsifiers (Mono and Diglycerides, Datem, Soy Lecithin), Soy Flour, Natural Flavor, Preservatives (Raisin Juice Concentrate, Vinegar).

      Arnold Whole Wheat Bread:

      WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SUGAR, WHEAT GLUTEN, YEAST, RAISIN JUICE CONCENTRATE, WHEAT BRAN, MOLASSES, SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, MONOGLYCERIDES, CALCIUM PROPIONATE (PRESERVATIVE), CALCIUM SULFATE, DATEM, GRAIN VINEGAR, CITRIC ACID, SOY LECITHIN, WHEY, NONFAT MILK

      • Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE
        February 7, 2012 | 1:55 pm

        Of course these breads are not good choices because they whole wheat is not fermented via sourdough or sprouting. So you’re getting a lot of phytic acid.

        It would be better to buy sprouted bread or real sourdough bread. You can find sourdough bread by reading the label. If it says “starter” or if you don’t see the word “yeast” on the label, then it is real sourdough bread.

        • Lance R.
          February 7, 2012 | 4:23 pm

          Thanks :)

  7. Candice
    February 7, 2012 | 4:18 pm

    Hello Ann Marie,

    I sent you an email with this question, but I thought I’d post it here in case others have a similar question (if you answer the post here, don’t bother with the email. I know you’re busy).

    I’m currently pregnant with my second child and I feel like my body is telling me to put grains back in my diet (I see another poster is also feeling the same way)!

    But, my concern is that I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and blood tests indicate I’m borderline pre-diabetic. “Conventional” wisdom says you should limit (though not exclude) simple carbohydrates (like white flour) and count carbs (ick!). Naturally, I’ve limited sugar but I don’t want to limit grains, especially, if I can avoid blood sugar spikes.

    Do you know or have heard of anything about properly prepared grains and their effects on diabetics? I heard that Ezekiel bread supposedly has a low glycemic index and I wonder if that’s true for other sprouted grains.

    Thanks! (And thank you Kirsten for this post)

    • KristenM
      February 10, 2012 | 2:27 pm

      Hi Candice,

      Sprouted grains have more protein in them which may be why they don’t create such an elevated blood sugar spike. I don’t know anything about how a fermented sourdough bread would affect blood sugar levels, but it seems like it would also be lower than a normal white bread simply because the wild yeast are eating up all the sugars to produce the CO2 that makes the bread rise, right?

      Based on what I’ve heard from other Real Food mommas who struggle with gestational diabetes, you really should completely eliminate refined carbohydrates like sugar and flour from your diet.

      If you want to include grains, start with sprouted grains and see how those affect your blood sugar levels. If they affect you adversely, consider eating more nuts instead to satisfy that craving.

      I’m not a doctor, but I’m all about self-experimentation to see what works for you!

      • Candice
        February 10, 2012 | 6:31 pm

        Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post, Kristen. I think you are correct in that I should eliminate all refined flours and sugars (which I’ve more-or-less tried to do, but I’ll admit that I’ve cheated here and there in very small amounts). Also, experimenting is I guess the best thing, since everyone responds differently to foods. I find that my blood sugars do not respond well to white flour, so that’s likely not ever going to be an option for me if I expect not to become diabetic. No big deal, if sprouted bread turns out to be okay for me in moderation.

  8. Stacy
    February 7, 2012 | 6:49 pm

    So your whole wheat bread recipe uses white flour? I’m thinking of signing up for your e-class but I’m only interested in whole grain recipes, do a lot (or even just some) of your videos/recipes use white flour? Thank you!

    • KristenM
      February 10, 2012 | 2:28 pm

      She gives the option of using *some* white flour to help transition folks to eating whole grain breads, but the recipe can be made without it and turn out excellent.

  9. Jennifer
    February 7, 2012 | 10:28 pm

    THANK YOU for the great information! I have been grain-free (and dairy-free) for about 4 years because it relieved my Lyme pain. I know I have gut damage from abx and do hope to eat everything again, but I know healing can take a long time. I did strict GAPS for a while and it helped a lot but it started making me crazy! I do serve mostly soaked/sprouted grains to my family and they are healthy people.

    • KristenM
      February 10, 2012 | 2:29 pm

      You’re welcome!

  10. Gayle
    February 8, 2012 | 2:15 am

    Hi Ann Marie,
    I’ve been so interested to read all of this new information you’ve been sharing lately. I’ve definitely fallen into the “carbs are poison” trap little by little over the past couple of years. I’ve been struggling to lose the last ten pounds from my last pregnancy and had even started to avoid eating my own homemade baked goods that are made with only sprouted grains. It feels good to dig in again guilt-free : ) I was wondering if you take any kind of supplements for your thyroid or if your diet alone is improving your thyroid function. My mom recently bought us both some sort of thyroid supplement called “Raw Thyroid”. I used up the bottle, but I really didn’t see any changes at all. I’ve been using some liquid kelp drops that I add to my water, but I’m not sure if that’s helpful or not. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
    Also, how important do you think sleep is? That is probably the area that I fail in the most. I’m a night owl with young kids, which equals not much sleep, and I’m starting to wonder if that is preventing weight-loss for me. Thanks!

    • KristenM
      February 10, 2012 | 2:31 pm

      She had a number of things she was combining to help with her thyroid, including Earthing sheets, sleeping in total darkness, and supplementing with magnesium. While all those things helped, her most dramatic hormonal improvement happened when she started testing all the recipes for this e-course and eating a LOT more grains than she had previously. She also recently told me that because of how busy she’s been setting up the e-course, she’s been forgetting her supplements. So, she’s pretty convinced it’s because she’s re-introduced more carbs to her diet.

  11. erica
    February 8, 2012 | 6:05 am

    Thank y’all for this post. It was verry enlightening but I think I’m even more confused now about what my family should eat! My dad. & i are both overweight even though we have both recently lost some & he was able to get off diabetic meds from eating low carb somewhat real food. Also I have a 22m/o who is fed homemade baby formula & egg yolks/coconuts/fruits/veggies. Should I be giving her grains? Should we eat grains? Will we still loose weight? My dad has rosaitia(sp) & I was told its a symtom of candida. Does that affect weather he should eat grains?

    • KristenM
      February 10, 2012 | 2:36 pm

      As Ann Marie shared above, if you believe you are suffering from gut dysbiosis (candida), a grain-free diet akin to the GAPS Diet is necessary to help heal your gut. If after your gut is healed, you want to re-introduce grains, you can do so but only if they’re properly prepared.

  12. Melissa @ Dyno-mom
    February 9, 2012 | 9:50 pm

    Can I tell you I breathed a sigh of relief to see the white flour in there? 90% of the time my bread is 100% whole wheat (or Kamut) but the other 10% it has some white. I felt like it was my dirty little secret! Well, now I feel better about it!

  13. Dedriann
    February 10, 2012 | 2:19 pm

    I have been wanting to start making bread but I really don’t like cooking and I dislike baking even more. My husband does most of it but isn’t ready to embrace this way of eating(I am working on baby steps) I missed the web event yesterday and would love to be able to listen to the replay.

    Your blog is a GREAT resource and I can always find something I new. Thank you for all you do to share with others.

    • KristenM
      February 10, 2012 | 2:37 pm

      I don’t like baking either. I’m not sure why. It’s just never been as appealing to me as making other food…

  14. Primo Health Coach
    February 10, 2012 | 3:05 pm

    This is excellent information for those who choose to eat grains. It is imperative that they be prepared properly to ensure nutrient content and proper digestion.

    However, you never mention the importance of starting with organic non-GMO grains. Wheat, corn and soy is almost 100% genetically modified now in the US. These GMO grains cause many health problems for people. And even proper preparation does not cancel out their GMO nature.

    Also, about 20% of the population, if not more, is now showing up to have some sort of autoimmune condition. Science is proving that grains, legumes and other inflammatory foods will trigger autoimmune flare-ups. Proper preparation of grains does not appear to reduce this risk for those people.

    My point is, proceed with caution if you choose to eat grains.

    Thanks again!

  15. Suzanne
    February 10, 2012 | 4:35 pm

    Wow. I am absolutely blown away.

    Not only has my body temp run low for years, I also have the red spots and gained WAY too much weight when my hypothyroid went undectected for 7 years. During this same time I went into menopause (age 39…normal, right??) but had heavy periods just before that- Dr. said all this was “perfectly normal” and just “couldn’t explain” the early menopause.)

    No one ever even suggested a link between my low body temp and thyroid. And after repeatedly looking for answers not one doctor would give credence to my suggestion that this was all releated.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this wonderful post!

  16. Renee
    February 10, 2012 | 6:28 pm

    Ann Marie,

    Thanks to you and to Kristen for this interview!

    Based on what you said about needing grains at this point in your life, do you still think it was wise to do a GAPS-type diet in your 20′s to heal digestive issues and intolerances? I’m dealing with those, and am in my 20′s, so I have been doing GAPS. However, I should gain more weight so it’s hard to get enough carbs without grain (properly prepared, of course.) Also, I know that magnesium helps digestion… I think I am low in magnesium and grains are a good source…

    So, I’m just wondering whether, looking back, you think it is wise to go grain free for certain lengths of time, for various ailments?

    thanks so much for your helpful information and sharing your experiences,

    Renee

    • KristenM
      February 10, 2012 | 6:36 pm

      I think Ann Marie answered this with that first question when she wrote, “I do think it’s good to go grain-free for a period of time if you have food allergies or other symptoms of digestive problems.”

      She even teaches an online class in GAPS Diet cooking called “Reversing Food Allergies“.

      The point, though, is that the GAPS Diet is meant to be a temporary thing to help you HEAL your gut.

      Once your gut is healed, you can try re-introducing properly prepared grains again (particularly if you’re craving them again after months or years of going without). If you STILL can’t tolerate them, then by all means STOP eating them again. Most people who do GAPS do find that eventually they can reintroduce all their old favorite foods again (in healthy, traditionally-prepared versions, of course).

      If you’re worried that you’re eating too few carbs on GAPS, be sure to eat more of the carb-heavy GAPS-friendly foods like fruits, nuts, squashes, etc.

      Hope all that helps!

  17. Kathy (aka Mrs Dull)
    February 10, 2012 | 10:02 pm

    Ann Marie thanks for the sourdough info! I’ve just started experimenting with sourdough myself and had wondered if it might not be possible to let the bread sit for a very long rise, maybe even longer than 18 hours in the fridge? I’ll definitely have to check out the class.

    • KristenM
      February 10, 2012 | 10:07 pm

      I don’t know how Ann Marie would answer, but I do know that with rising bread there’s a “peak” beyond which it’s not desirable to let it rise. That’s because the rise is created by the yeast “eating” the sugars and converting to CO2. The CO2 gets trapped in tiny pockets created by the gluten (or whatever the structural protein of the grain is), and the dough rises. Eventually, the gluten gets so “bent” or “stretched” that they’d collapse back in on themselves rather than capturing pockets of CO2. That’s when you get bricks instead of loaves….

  18. Kaye
    February 11, 2012 | 8:06 am

    Thank you for this very interesting Post.
    Both my daughter and I tried grain free for a while, and while I did ok being O blood group, needing protein, my daughter broke out in big horrid water blisters to her chest. She tried a few months later again and the same thing – this time they left awful scars.

    My low body temperature is responding to more grains and I am trying homeopathic thyroidinum – however I have heard that’s a slow process. My issue is 10-15lbs that will not go away using a good WP diet [not a sweet/dessert lover] and playing tennis 4 times a week, and yoga 5 days a week.

    And for those that are time-challenged, or guilty because you can’t be bothered with faffing around baking – I am also trying the Artisanal 5minute a day bread. Yeast is used however as I have rye, wholewheat, spelt and white starters, I have been experimenting by putting a good dob of starter in the dough – which is left in the refrigerator, and can be used over a period of a week or more. I figure, there is some sourdough in, and leaving for days in the refrigerator you are soaking your flour, and also fermenting even more the whole mixture making it more sourdough-y. You just take some out when you need it – no kneading – put to rise – then bake on an oven stone.

    That’s my story anyway – so far I have baked a delicious rye/spelt with caraway seeds, and a fabulous white loaf with a crunchy crust similar to the one in the photo, and most of all tasting absolutely delicious.

    So nice to have lots more options to try these days when your goal is to eat real food.

  19. Jenn (GH)
    February 11, 2012 | 10:33 am

    I’m very much like Kristen when it comes to grains I don’t really enjoy baking and they seem like a lot of work especially now that I traveling the country for a year in an RV. That said I do eat some grains and could certainly do better when it comes to quality. It is hard to find sprouted grain products on the road.

    I was thinking about taking this class and then I read the part about being super lean followed by super model thin. I’ve noticed Anne Marie guest posting on another blog I check out and it never fails she says something off putting. Super lean is not the same as super model thin. Super models can actually have a high body fat percentage. (skinny fat). There is a difference between skinny and lean. Many lean women nourish their bodies amazingly well. The combination of a nourishing diet along with a properly designed strength training and cardio (no long cardio) program can change create amazing changes. Of course when people lose weight their metabolism slows but it also it speeds up when they build muscle!!! I just felt like the issue of weight loss here wasn’t accurately presented and instead it seemed to be crafted in a way to only support the class. (which sounds amazing btw) While I would love to learn more I just don’t know if I could tolerate the blanket judgements I keep reading based on “her experience”.

    Yes I’m a fairly lean woman (a little heavier since i moved into th rv and I haven’t been making as many healthy choices as before but by no means any where near “fat”) who takes pride in my choices and lifestyle so if you are wondering if that is why I took this a little too personally you would be correct. :-) I also think it’s ok to be a little “plump” too. That is not a sign of ill health and I agree *may* be healthier than super lean. Although personally I like it when I’m a little leaner but still STRONG not skinny. Everyone’s body will find it’s sweet spot when they follow a nourishing diet and effective and doable (for them) fitness plan.

  20. nikki b
    February 15, 2012 | 10:59 am

    I’ve been experimenting and I have noticed that when I eat only dairy, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and meats, I am always hungry but I have so much energy. The moment I eat even a small amount of grain/legume/potato (even properly prepared ones!), I instantly feel full but my body crashes and I have no energy and want to nap.

    I could really use some feedback as I try and figure my body out. I charted my temperature and it is consistently around 98.4

  21. Micha
    February 16, 2012 | 9:47 am

    I’m so disappointed I missed this! I didn’t check my email until today and was so sad I didn’t get to view this. Is there any place it is still viewable???
    Micha.

    • KristenM
      February 16, 2012 | 1:09 pm

      YES! I updated the link in the post to direct you to the recording of the webinar, or you can click here.

  22. MaryEl
    August 6, 2012 | 7:35 pm

    This is all new to me I havecrohns ,pernicious anemia,hypothroidism a and hypoglycemia. I DONOT want to take heavy duty meds.I think the right diet can straighten out the crohns.I dofeel better without grains but I am also low in magnesium and low end on pottasium.Do you agree leaving out grains for now or what would you reccomend?Any info would be greatly appreciated.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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