A Week Without Oatmeal

I’m giving up Oatmeal.

I know, GASP! And believe me, even though (for now) this is just a one week experiment, I still bear this news with an extremely heavy heart.

Oatmeal is everything that breakfast should be. Creamy, carby goodness with hints of whatever flavors your oatmeal-loving heart chooses to add. Like say, banana, cinnamon and raisin.

Up until recently, I sincerely believed oatmeal was one of the healthiest breakfast options out there. When I first started Hungry Runner and began to learn about wholesome nutrition, one of the first changes I made to my diet was to replace sugary cereals with oatmeal for breakfast. It was like a miracle to me. Topped with some fruit and nuts, oatmeal kept me feeling way fuller for way longer than cereal and milk ever did. I was hooked.

But last week at the Fitness Magazines FitBlog Meet and Tweet, panel speaker Dr. Jennifer Ashton said something that completely turned my oatmeal-loving world upside down. She said, “Oatmeal is bad for breakfast.”

Now OK, first let’s get a few things clear. Yes, there are a lot of people out there who subscribe to the research that alleges that grains are not healthy for human consumption. (Which is perfectly fine.) Obviously I’ve read up on things like the Paleo diet and some of the research behind it before. I simply tend to lean towards the other side of the argument. So, eliminating grains from the diet is not a new concept to me.

However, for some reason it was suddenly more shocking to hear these words come from Dr. Ashton’s mouth, simply because I had been nodding in complete agreement with everything else she had said up until that point. She talked about the importance of having a strong and trusting relationship with your doctor and shared how she practices with a focus on holistic and preventative health. She talked about eating healthy and said, “Any regimen that’s too rigid is a recipe for disaster.” (I agree.) And she even inspired us all to “Look in the mirror and see [our] inner heroine[s]” and to “Be the captain of [our] own [bodies.]” (Yeah!!) All the while she was speaking, I was tweeting her quotes feeling so revved up about health and fitness. But then came the Oatmeal bashing.

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After she finished speaking, I walked over to Dr. Ashton to find out why. Why did she believe that oatmeal wasn’t the best choice for breakfast? What research had she read that showed this? She said her opinion wasn’t based on any research, just her 10 years experience of treating and advising her female patients. She said, it’s not that grains like oatmeal, and bread, and rice are bad for us (whole grains do offer our bodies some nutritional value), but simply that our bodies don’t necessarily need them unless we’re doing an hour or more of intense cardio daily. She pointed out to me that she could tell that right now I don’t need any help managing my weight, but for her female patients who do need help losing or learning to maintain their weight, she advises that they stay away from grains during the week.

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While she was speaking, Dr. Ashton shared a personal experience. She said that when she first began focusing on eating a more wholesome diet, she cut out grains during the week, but on the weekends, anything was game. She said at first, she used to count down the days until Saturday morning when she could finally have her bagel. However, after a while, her desire for bagels and other grain products was almost completely eliminated.

As I finished my conversation with her, Dr. Ashton challenged me to try cutting out oatmeal (and most other grains) for a whole week. She promised I would notice a difference. And since I can never turn down a challenge, and because I really am curious as to how I will feel, this week I will not be eating any oatmeal for breakfast and my diet will be mostly grain-free. (This also happens to be the perfect week for me to conduct this experiment since my favorite form of cardio exercise is off limits to me right now, and therefore my body will not need the same amount of carbohydrates that I typically eat.)

This morning for breakfast I had a green smoothie with kale, banana, tangerine juice, and coconut milk (recipe for that coming soon!), two hard boiled eggs, and half of a Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Kind Bar. I ate this all around 6:00AM, was able to workout with a few clients, and then complete my own 35-minute strength circuit workout without feeling hungry again until I finished my own workout at around 10AM. Not bad for a long-lasting feeling of fullness, if you ask me.

Not only did this new breakfast regimen keep me feeling fuller for longer, but it also really did make me feel better. Don’t get me wrong I loooooove oatmeal and still do, but it does create a sort of heavy feeling in your stomach, which is not particularly the best feeling. (And also why I always have to wait at least an hour before running after eating oatmeal or any type of bread product.)

Plus, what’s also extremely noticeable and amazing to me today, is that it’s now 3:30 in the afternoon, the time of day when I almost always start to fade, and feel drowsy. The time of day when I usually opt for a break from blogging in turn for a quick cat nap. Yet, I feel none of those symptoms and have no desire at all to take a nap. I am truly amazed at how I feel right now.

However, I will take into account that this is only the very first day of my experiment. So, all of this could just be a fluke. Only time will tell how I’ll feel through the rest of my (mostly) grain-free week.

Other things I’ve eaten today:

-Grilled chicken salad with tomatoes, olives, chick peas, feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette

-1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt with 1/2 cup blueberries and 1/4 cup Kind Granola

-1/2 cup broccoli and 1/2 cup cauliflower, with 1/2 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 cup corn, and 2 tablespoons salsa

For the next four days, my diet is going to mainly focus on veggies, fruits, lean protein, and lots and lots of salad greens! (Please note, I am not aiming for low-carbs. Just grain free.)

Make sure you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, as that’s where I’ll be posting most of my updates throughout the week. On Friday I’ll post an overall recap of the entire week here on Hungry Runner.

*Update: Here’s my recap of a week without oatmeal.

Have you ever tried eliminating grains from your diet before? What was your experience? If not, would you consider trying it?

  1. This would be HARD for me. Mostly because I love toast with my eggs! And my protein pancakes I love have 1/3 cup of oats in them

  2. I am becoming more and more convinced that the only safe and proper diet for us humans is water. Only water. /a little sarcastic


    1. I concur Dave!


  3. WOW, would a life without oatmeal really be worth living? I am in the exact same boat as you – I happily transitioned from ‘diet’ cereals and unsweetened almond milk to heraty, delicious and amazingly filling oatmeal bowls as part of my new ‘clean eating’ challenge and lifestyle change (if you want to follow me: http://miamyte.blogspot.com). Up until now I thought that was the best decision ever… but now I’m thorn!! Please keep us posted on how it goes! 🙂

    Your blog is amazing btw!

  4. Why are the KIND granola and brown rice OK to eat? Looking forward to learning more about your challenge experience!

    1. Hi Liz! Obviously granola and rice are products of grain, but my vow was to eat MOSTLY grain free because since is the first time I am trying this I didn’t want to completely restrict myself. When trying out new eating habits it’s best to slowly add them into your day-to-day routine rather than doing a complete overhaul all at once.

  5. I’m still on the fence about my morning oats….as for the KIND bars, I have given those up due to the added sugar. I am now eating a LARA bar when I need it. They’re delicious.

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