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Why Our Family Isn’t Gluten-Free

Why Our Family Isn't Gluten-Free

I have been asked or involved in discussions several times over the last few months about whether or not our family eats grains. It’s one of those hot button topics about which everyone seems to have an opinion.  There is a lot of controversy about grains and the effects they have on our health. Usually, they’re contradictory too. It all leaves the conscientious homemaker feeling very confused and quite frustrated about making the right choices.

Why Our Family Isn't Gluten-Free

I’ve been known to link to paleo diet resources followed quickly by a whole month of gushing over a whole grains cookbook. Obviously, we drink a lot of raw milk. So am I fickle? Just where do I currently stand on some of the food fads sweeping the internet? I thought I’d take a moment to let my stream of consciousness flow on the issue.

Do we subscribe to any particular diet or food philosophy?

No.

We’re neither Paleo or Weston A. Price. I’m not a Trim Healthy Mama nor a vegetarian (obviously!)

Now we might not like a particular food, but there is nothing we don’t eat because a dietary conviction causes us to feel that one way of eating is better than another – within the real food realm, that is. I try to refrain from feeding my family foods that came from something that resembles more of a laboratory or industrial food system rather than a field or forest. And I’d be thrilled to increasingly find ways to do it on a local level. Self-sustainability isn’t something we’re striving for here. I doubt 7 ½ acres could cut it for a family of 10+ anyway.

The only place where I am strictly against eating something is GMO’s or a highly processed “food” likely to have GMO’s. I feel like that whole thing is a grand experiment that we don’t know how it will play out yet and I’m not willing to take the risk. Who knows? Maybe in a hundred years everyone will look back and think how silly we were for our caution. Though I doubt it. I’d rather be overly cautious than taking the risk. I believe there to be Biblical implications and factors to consider here too. But this whole issue would be a post in and of itself and a rant for a different day.

Why Our Family Isn't Gluten-Free


What I don’t care for with any of these or other diet fads is that they all, in one form or another, tout themselves as the ideal diet or the way we were designed to eat and they all place limitations and restrictions on our eating.

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it bereceived with thanksgiving 1 Timothy 4:4

None of them have a longevity that makes them appealing to me. It all smacks of consumerism and I suspect that next year there will be a different diet whose waist-high pile of propaganda we’ll have to sift through to find the truth.  (And another blogger or author trying to capitalize off of it, your fears, and your concern for the health of your family. And we’ll give the click to them too and feed the monster. It can’t be helped. Inquiring minds want to know if processed tomato products or baby carrots really can KILL us. No, my friends, I’m confident that the wages of sin is death. Not the wages of eating baby carrots, but I digress.)

Even the Weston A. Price diet, which I find to be the most intriguing, for me has its limitations. Here’s where I get held up: If it- in the broadest terms- is essentially  a condemnation of the modern processed food diet rooted in the comparison of our poor health to the superior health of primitive cultures who all ate differently, yet locally, then why should I worry about fats like coconut oil and omega-3’s from fish oil that were never available to the primitive people from this area?

That’s not to say we don’t consume those foods. I try to eat some coconut oil every day. But that’s because I’ve noticed the positive effects that it has had on my energy levels and metabolism in the last year since I started adding a tablespoon to my oatmeal in the morning and because I’m convinced of the health benefits, not because it’s on some list of acceptable foods somewhere.

But trying to come up with clever ways to afford cod liver oil, let alone force the children to take it? I’m passing, thank you and finding those nutrients in other sources. Maybe I’ll try to think like a native American? What did they eat?

Rumor is they ate a lot of corn (sorry, maize). Both of which are… oh yeah. A grain.

Why Our Family Isn't Gluten-Free

So do we eat grains?

Ohhhh yeah. Lot’s of ’em. (Remember I just said I add my coconut oil to my nearly daily bowl of oatmeal?)

A few years ago I picked up on all the grains stigma. I felt guilty every time I scooped brown rice onto the dinner plate. I felt naughty after baking fresh bread for the quintessential lunch staple PB & J now that leftovers have become a thing of the past. (It’s tricky enough cooking for this crowd every night, let alone doubling up to make enough for lunchtime leftovers.  Maybe if I get a second oven? Which, frankly, I don’t see happening.) So we ate fewer and fewer grains. After all, who likes feeling guilty?  Not I.

About this time I had my 6th baby, who I was shocked to find, was my smallest. You mean that was all me!? And only 5 pounds of it was baby?!! And then what was left wasn’t coming off. Month after month passed and I had lost a handful of pounds after that initial postpartum shed. The same thing happened after the next baby too.  Somewhere in there, I gave up my daily bowl of ice cream. Nothing. It made not one pound of difference on my body (although it did trim some fat from the budget.) I was quite discouraged and figured it was just something I was going to have to accept along with the loose belly skin.

Then last year, my husband’s job changed and while we were glad to have him home so much more, it meant that the budget tightened up even more while he has slowly built his sales base. What was one way I began to economize? I added grains back in the diet.

We had been eating our eggs and meat for breakfast, sometimes lunch, and always dinner. One way I could stretch our homegrown pork, beef, and chicken even further would be to add in cheap grains back in, especially at breakfast time.

And you know what? I lost a bunch of weight.

And so did my husband who had been the heaviest since I had ever known him. Now that’s not saying much, but he had been working on needing to go up a second pants size in a year and once we started eating grains again both of us were looking better. I was feeling better. And I was able to get those 2 smaller Berkshire pigs to last us a whole year! Something that I hadn’t been able to do the year before.

Why Our Family Isn't Gluten-Free

So even though our budget can afford it, I’ll be keeping grains in our diet.

And my palate is thankful for it.

It would make me sad to think of having to give up a warm heel of bread smothered in butter that melts into it and soaks it through. Soup just isn’t the same without a crusty slice to sop up the juices. The beef stock I made this weekend- it took massive amounts of self-control not to take a whole loaf, tear off chunks, and dip them in what was supposed to be a kitchen staple. Last week we enjoyed a milk-braised pork loin for dinner and brown rice sucked up the cream. It was utterly delightful. And sausage gravy wouldn’t be the same without the biscuits Or the flour. Shoot- Or the milk if you’re Paleo!

So the driving force behind my decision to reincorporate grains into our diet has simply been our budget and our palates, with a perk of some weight loss. That’s it. No scientific studies. Someone is just going to come out in a few years to refute them anyway. No looking back at primitive cultures from the other side of the globe.

We’re just going to eat real, good food. Including grains.

Ultimately, we’re trying to keep things as balanced as possible and eat seasonally what we’re producing on the homestead. I think the whole concept of seasonal eating with your body wanting more comforting, warming meat and carbs over winter to help keep you warm then cooler and cleansing food during the summer makes some sense.  I do intend to grow more vegetables that do well and can be harvested over the winter next year for a bit more balance during the cold months though (one area we always fall down on in the winter is veggies/fruits).

All these things considered, I’ll do what I need to do and what’s best for my family. And I know you will too and it might not look the same as what I’m doing. And that’s ok.

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30 Comments

  1. Usually, they’re contradictory too. It all leaves the conscientious homemaker feeling very confused and quite frustrated about making the right choices. I totally agree, information on food can be so confusing.
    Eating meat up to 3 times a day seems excessive to me though.

    1. That’s the goal. You’re supposed to be confused. Because confusion means you need to go back to them, the experts, for help to get it all straightened out and put you on the right path. I’m not saying they’re not well-meaning and want you to be healthy, I’m sure they do. But perpetuating confusion is a business model.

      I think eating meat 3 times a day is excessive too and thankfully, it didn’t take me years to figure out that it was not a good option for our family. Since writing this, we’re down to once a day unless there are leftovers for lunch. Or a few slices of shaved cured meats now that we’ve gotten into that. Otherwise, I think we would have had to double our meat production… crazy!

  2. I LOVE this article! When I was my "healthiest" (according to perscription doctors), I weighted 115 lbs. No dairy (minus yogurt). No red meat. No grains. Very few fruits. I had barely any fat and my husband said he could see every vertebrae in my back. I was ghoastly white, stained circles under my eyes, sick and constantly exhausted. I even began devlopeing heart issues (And I was 27!) Yet doctors continued to tell me I was healthy. When I became a homesteader, my diet changed. And for the best. I cook everything with butter. My family has a country breakfast. I eat all meats (minus red meats because I cannot stomach them), esp wild game meats. I eat a lb of bacon a week. I added grains to my diet and drink whole milk. Yes, I have red wine and dark cacao, but that's what my body needs! I still juice and eat a ton of veggies. I drink Lemon water and ACV to help cleanse my body. But breads ("give us our daily bread"), are a major staple in our diet. After a year (and having my 2nd son), I finally gained 20 lbs. AND I'M HEALTHY! The color returned to my face. I no longer have dark circles and stains under my eyes. I have energy and my immune system has improved. Now, I do my very best to avoid processed foods. I am very anti-GMO and chemcial foods. But you cannot do it all and healthy grains should not be removed from the human diet. Fad diets change constantly. But I'll say this, eat healthy and all pure things that God gave us of this earth and you will be healthy and happy. He blessed it to us for a reason.

  3. Reformation Acres I sometimes have egg issues and they're my absolute favorite food. Have you tried just scrambling or frying the yolks? Most often its the whites that make people feel gucky.
    Again, this was just such a great post – so glad you wrote it and I'm having fun sharing it. Everyone just needs to take a breath and not be so uptight about food – especially other peoples dietary choices.

  4. I'm sorry to hear you've struggled with your your health. I imagine it's got to be pretty rough having to make adjustments to the way you normally eat to accomodate that. I've only dealt with one food intolerance in my life- and it's so bizarre, I don't get it, but every time I eat scrambled eggs I get sick. It frustrates me greatly, especially this time of year, that I can't enjoy them when the hens are laying so abundantly. Thank you for sharing your heart on this issue- I really appreciate your sharing about prayer and protection- so true! I'm thankful for that as well

  5. What a great post! I confess I don't give a flying fart in space what people think my family shoudl be eating but I do know what it's like to be confused by what to do. Over the past few years we've been so much more conscious of how we pray over each meal – asking for real healing. We also ask for harmful elements to be removed. While I'm still committed to doing all I can to only purchase or grow "clean" (basicaly non-gmo) food, I'm so grateful to have His protection over what we eat.
    I've used a collection of ideas as I heal my gut, which was genuinely broken and still struggles with grain consumption, but I always tell people that they're just tools, not a way to live the rest of your life. And certainly not gospel. My religion has a law of health that specifically mentions the wholesomeness of grains and that's the ideal I strive for. I seem to be the weak link in my family anyway (I'm always the one with weird food issues). My children were raised with balanced, whole foods and you can see it in how they're thriving. Bottom line, you're right – everyone needs to take a deep breath, grow a garden and how some common sense.

  6. **LOVE** the down-to-earth’ness.. and yes.. it’s good to ask the questions, try (add/eliminate) things from time to time, but common sense is a good compass
    GREAT writing, -great- post!!

  7. Thanks for this! An aside I think you may find interesting – myself and our youngest have actually been tested for the whole gluten free-ness – and have to live by it – but when we were in the EU for 6 weeks we could EAT THEIR BREAD – bliss and why you ask? because in the EU it is illegal for them to use GMO grains in food – so it turns out that what we are reacting to in our household (well two of us) is the GMO grains and so I am in search for nonGMO grains 🙂 if you know of a source please pass it on –

    1. I think Azure Standard’s organic grains are GMO-free. They might deliver to your area.

    2. How interesting! You must be glad to have spent the time away and were able to realize the difference. Azure Standard is definitely worth looking into.

      We purchase from them and have been very pleased. If they don’t have a drop near you, it might be worth learning how to develop one.

  8. I firmly agree with your post, it shouldn’t be a bunch of rules. I will say that I think one of the biggest reasons for the growth of Paleo is the stories, many people just feel better eating less grain. Lots of people are chronically sick from eating the SAdiet, sometimes it takes radical steps to get back to health. I fundamentally believe that the basis for a lot of diets is based on someone’s opinion, not even science per say, but there is a place for those who are sick to become well, and some of the “science” can help in that process. There is no need to cut out foods if you are not allergic, intolerant, or unhealthy. For some of us that is a big reality. I envy those like you who can enjoy a lovely sourdough bread. One diet doesn’t fit all, and it’s awesome that you added grain back in with a positive result! It sounds like you fit in the JERF camp- just eat real food 🙂

  9. while i dont care for fad diets, and think the paleo concept is pretty … well.. its not for me, i do know if you have diabetes or diabetics in your family, grain and carbs are not your friends. Since doing away with both my blood glucose is finally under control with just my long acting insulin and very small bolus’s throughout the day for any sneaky carbs, whereas the ADA recommended diet left me with massive doses of insulin 5 times a day and still resulted in sky high blood sugars. im type 1 so your mileage may vary but this is what ive found to be true with me. i do also notice that i can have sugars, including fruits and even very occasionally table sugars and if i bump up my insulin i have no lasting effects, whereas if i choose my carbs in the form of breads and grains, i will have a two to three day ‘hangover’ of stomach upset, unsteady blood glucose and general malaise. now this may be a sign that i have some type of gluten intolerance, and i may be fine with oats or corn, but at this point, its just not worth it to experiment. That said, i have all intentions, once our new homestead is up and running (just signed beginning paperwork today, yay us!! so excited ;0) ) of experimenting with adding home grown fruits, fresh cows milk, and possibly fresh breads back to my diet, one thing at a time, to see what i can and cannot tolerate. I do wonder if in your zest to ditch grains you added too many high starch and sugar root type veggies into your diet to stretch your meats, which would impact your waistline. me, weight is not a particular issue that i worry about, i lose it, i gain it, no matter what i come back to the same general area regardless of what i eat, and im ok with that. i watched my mother struggle with weight everyday of her life, trying fad diets, starvation, even having bariatric surgery, and while she ended her life fairly thin, she ended it way too soon, and was never happy. me, i have a wonderful husband, four beautiful children, and i worry about the food we eat only so much as it impacts our health negatively, and one dependable way to see that is by eating to my blood sugar meter. if it says im good, im good. Both my parents died of heart disease brought about not by cholesterol or fat, but by sugar, complications of diabetes… im not gonna leave my kids that way before i even make 62. mom was 61 and dad only 56 when they died.. if giving up sugar, starch, and grains can keep me around long enough to see great grandkids, im gonna do without warm fresh bread. if fresh makes a difference and i can add it back, i will.

  10. Thank you so much for this post! I have been praying that God would lead me as I try to provide wholesome food for my family. There are so many opinions out there and that’s just what they are, opinions. I have felt so much guilt when my budget doesn’t allow for me to do what all of these opinions say I should. I have had to go back to the word of God and just say, “Okay Lord, what is it that you would have me to do in feeding our family?”. Thank you for such an encouraging post and for letting me know I am not alone in this journey.

    1. May you never feel guilty again! Do the best you can with what you’re given and may you thoroughly enjoy every bite with thanks giving!!

  11. This! At exactly the right moment, this has rescued me from such anxiety and worry. Thank you so much for writing it…I can feel myself breathing more deeply.

  12. Quinn..I am with Shaye..this post honestly brought me to tears while relaying it to my husband I have been struggling with this so. very. much. lately..to the point that I am sure my fretting is harming my health far worse than any food. With the exception of dairy, to which one of our daughters is anaphylactic, I am going to feed us all food groups, cook from scratch, and do our best on getting non-gmo foods within our budget. This post and it’s clarity was a part of answered prayer for me because I finally just turned it over to the Lord for wisdom and then provision. Yet another lesson for me to rely on Him for answers. Thank you again.

    1. “to the point where my fretting is harming my health far worse than any food.”
      YES! No doubt! I’m so sorry to hear this and yet I am brought low by the fact that the Lord used my ramblings to release you from this burden of guilt, stress and worry. So there. Now you’ve brought me to tears. 🙂

  13. Great article. my family has struggled with this issue. Eat this, don’t eat that. We went no grain a few years back, and all of us gained weight. Going back now to the basics. Cook from scratch, limit processed foods, fresh homemade breads, etc. Hopefully the weight will begin to come off. Thank you so much for speaking what so many of us need to hear-commonsense.

  14. It’s great to hear someone talk about food with common sense. We don’t adhere to any particular diet but find useful bits in all of them. I think it’s incredibly sad that so many diets and people who say they care about people’s health cause others to view food as the enemy and feel shame when they eat. It’s a travesty, food should bring joy! Thanks for the thoughtful post

    1. Shame in eating – that is so sad. Yes, food is for nourishment. Food is a gift, And food is how we express our culture, our family and our love. It should never feel shameful.

  15. Amen.
    I am lactose intolerant, but firmly believe that I can tolerate lactose straight from the cow (because of the milk being more balanced and having more enzymes that any kind of grocery store milk, even the least processed type) and am eager to test that some day.
    When it comes to grains I noticed years ago that bought bread makes me feel yucky and bloated and adr, whereas the bread we bake using sour dough or bigas and close to no purchased yeast dosn’t. I also noticed that we do a lot better on organic grains than non organic.
    We generally live by the dictum “all things are good in moderation”.
    Thank you for this great post, I’m tired of self-righteous people telling me what I am allowed to eat, like they know better than the Lord.

  16. When a post on eating grain can almost bring me to tears with it’s truth and awesomeness, you know you’re a very talented author. GREAT post, Quinn.

    1. Thank you Shaye for leading me to this! Thank you Quinn for writing it! There is so much pressure in the real food world to go Paleo. Leading me to feel guilty every time I make home baked goods for my family, with great ingredients no less! I will feel guilt no more! In fact I think I hear Shaye’s banana bread recipe calling me from my kitchen. Much to my 3 year olds delight, she has been requesting it for a week now. Thank you both for your great blogs.

    2. Thank you Shaye! I was just going to accuse you of being pregnant and yet Dianne there got weepy too so I’ll refrain (even though it is true.) And thank you for sharing the post too 🙂