Surprisingly, this week went by fast. And despite keeping my favorite breakfast food at bay, I wasn’t at all miserable. I really thought I was going to go through withdrawal.
After I posted my vow not to eat oats (and a mostly grain free diet) for a whole week, so many of you wrote to me and raved about how great you felt after giving up grains. And even after my first day without them for breakfast, I noticed a difference in my mood and energy levels. So I was super excited to see what the whole week would bring.
Giving up my beloved oatmeal for a whole week was hard. But I did it. Go me!!
But now comes the even harder part. Admitting that I definitely felt better without it. Ughhhhhhhhh. Why? Why does it have to be like this? I really wish I could say that I felt no different, because I really want to believe that oatmeal is the best breakfast to ever exist on this earth, but I can’t. (I mean, based on taste, yes it is. It is the best breakfast to ever exist on this earth. But nutritionally, I guess not so much.)
I can’t believe that, because I felt so much less tired than I normally do this week. I felt less bloated and more energized throughout the entire day.
I make sure to get anywhere from 6-8 hours of sleep on any given night. My days typically start at around 5:30 AM. Usually, by 2 or 3 PM, I’m shot. At that time of the day I almost always feel like I absolutely need a nap. But this week, I never felt that way once. And I especially felt like I had much more energy during the morning hours than I normally do.
So, I really hate to say it, but it seems like Dr. Ashton was right. Oatmeal isn’t necessarily a “bad” breakfast (it is nutritious), but when it comes down to it, there are foods better suited for breakfast, particularly, foods that are grain free.
Not only did I skip oatmeal for breakfast this week, but I also kept my entire diet relatively grain-free for the entire week. I had only a few half-sized servings of granola, one serving of quinoa at lunch on Tuesday, three raviolis with my dinner on Thursday night, and a brown rice tortilla at lunch on Friday. That’s a huge step for me, considering I LOVE to eat sandwiches for lunch and almost always have some kind of grain like rice, or quinoa, or a wrap with dinner.
What it seems to come down to goes back to what Dr. Ashton had initially said to me; that we just don’t need the carbohydrates from all of those starchy grains unless we’re going to use them up with a cardio session of an hour or longer. This actually makes total sense when I think about the fact that the only time I’ve felt exceptionally great after eating a bowl of oatmeal is when I’ve gone for a nice, long run after doing so.
So, through my own personal experience I can say that starchy grains are great for fueling long cardio workouts, but not so great for sustainable energy throughout the day. That doesn’t mean that I’m giving them up completely, though. I love bread, and pizza, and oatmeal too much to deprive myself of those foods forever. But from now on, I do plan to eat a relatively grain-free diet for the majority of the time. Meaning I’ll treat myself to it only when I really feel like I want to. If I want a sandwich, I’ll make myself a sandwich. If a bagel is what I’m feeling like for breakfast, I’ll have a bagel. For the most part though, I plan to focus more on lean protein, fruit, healthy fats, and lots and lots of veggies!
Would you consider eliminating grains from your diet?
Update: Here’s a more recent take on the whole “carbs for runners” debate that I think takes a totally sensible approach!