Test Your Grains: More Survey Results

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Before the holiday break, I shared with you the first set of results from the Test Your Grains Challenge, in which participants committed to eating grains only prepared in a certain style for 7-10 days: all refined grains, all whole grains, soaked, sprouted, sourdough, gluten-free, or no grains were the choices.

To recap: People observed their energy, mental acuity, appetite, emotional stability, feeling in their gut after a meal, regular elimination of waste, gas, and weight gain or loss during the challenge. The results truly are fascinating!

Here are the subjects challenge participants tackled:

  • refined white flour: 2
  • whole grains, storebought: 3
  • whole grains, homemade only: 1
  • soaked whole grains using cultured medium (whey, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir): 1
  • sprouted whole grains: 2
  • no grains at all: 9

The majority of respondents saw no change in energy, mental acuity, emotional stability, sleep patterns or appetite, but about a third noticed improvement in each area.

Many people were hoping for an improvement in the frequency of bowel movements or constipation, but, as I myself was disappointed to see, many also found little to no change. My husband, who had the opposite problem of the majority of Americans (who are constipated), saw an immediate healing of his chronic diarrhea when he ate no grains at all. If no other lesson is learned from all this statistical analysis and anecdotal evidence, both in the first set and today, it’s that one really does need to pay attention to one’s own body to determine the best foods for them.

More Survey Responses

If you missed the first seven responses, they’re worth a read. Here are some more (as many as I can get through before breakfast).

Each survey is simply broken down and the story told from the participants’ point of view with very little commentary or evaluation from me. My opinions aren’t necessary, I don’t think – the experiences speak for themselves!


  • Eats just about all grains: refined, soaked, homemade whole wheat, sprouted, sourdough. “I typically make all of our baked goods from scratch, either soaked, sourdough, or sprouted, mostly whole wheat. Occasionally we have white rice or pasta as a treat.”

  • Tried no grains: “We went off all grains and pseudo-grains. We did have seeds and nuts like flax, almonds, etc. We also avoided legumes, although I ate some leftover beans at first and they didn’t seem to agree with me (I’m usually ok with beans but my husband can’t tolerate them).”

  • She saw some no change in things like mental acuity, emotional stability and sleep patterns, but “The first couple of days were difficult but I found that I literally felt lighter and had more energy. I lost 6 pounds in ten days, all around my middle from what I can tell.”

  • Her digestion started out very regular and healthy (good old “brown bananas”) and the only change was a small increase in bowel movement frequency and decrease in gas.

  • “I have issues with allergies and severe eczema, and I think that GAPS is the answer, so going grain free (I will also be limiting my dairy, although my husband won’t) is a good trial run to see if my skin clears up.” And the results on this subject: “I lost weight and felt good, but I had a major eczema flare. From my reading about GAPS and SCD, eczema flares can be symptoms of a die-off reaction. Since I was limiting dairy (a known potential allergen) and eating lacto-fermented veggies (including daily beet kvass) and taking probiotics, I think that this is evidence that my body was releasing toxins as I was losing weight and starving out the bad bacteria. It hasn’t been fun, but I am trying to manage it and not use any topical steroid creams. More than ever this is convincing me and my husband that GAPS is the right way to go long-term for us.”

  • Didn’t cheat! “We were very strict-I think we had some soy sauce at one point, and also discovered that one of the hot sauces my husband likes actually has wheat in it! Other than that, we had no grains.”

  • Final thoughts: “It’s ten days in, and we are going to keep going! We do have a vacation scheduled and will likely relax our restrictions then, so it will be interesting to see how we feel eating out. Also, if you have any recommendations on the eczema issue, I’d love to get additional resources! Thanks!”

  • Katie on eczema: My son and husband both struggle with mild to medium (in the winter) eczema, too. When we went no grains (the adults), my husband did not notice a positive change in his. I’m thinking of having my son go at least gluten-free for a few weeks this winter to see if we can improve his at all. However, I’m pretty sure the biggest “catch” is that we probably need a long elimination to really see an improvement if in fact gluten or grains is the trigger. I have a local friend who struggled with terrible eczema and has found incredible relief in the past few years by supplementing with Shaklee products, and another who eliminated just about everything (wheat, soy, corn, dairy, maybe more?) and finally figured out that both wheat and dairy trigger hers. I so wish I had an easy answer, but this one’s a struggle to be sure!


  • Went from eating all store and homemade whole grains to 100% soaked grains. What an accomplishment! I think that’s no easy task, suddenly using all new recipes. Well done, MJ!

  • Saw little change in overall digestion, but “found [she] was more satisfied throughout the day” and went from often feeling a “heaviness in the gut” after grain-based meals to eliminating that feeling entirely.

  • “The biggest change was ZERO gassy/bloated feeling,” a rather significant upgrade from something interesting she noticed previously about her occasional gas: “[It’s] usually just after dinner. I can eat the same thing for lunch the next day and feel okay afterwards. Maybe my system is tired by dinner…”

  • Just one little cheat (but we learn from those too): “I did have a little whole wheat (unsoaked) pasta one night. It didn’t seem to bother me as it has in the past (mostly just an extra full feeling previously). Maybe due to not having too much in my system.”


  • Regularly ate commercially prepared grains, both whole and refined, as well as homemade soaked and sourdough breads.

  • Chose to eat only conventionally prepared whole grains for this challenge.

  • Her energy and emotional stability were rated “poor” pre-challenge and saw no change (the caveat here was some PMS that likely played a role in all the results).

  • The monthly hormonal shift may have also affected the fact that IM felt slightly more constipated on whole grains only, but her bowel movement output did have a healthy consistency and regularity.

  • Here is how she described her normal digestion: “Usually when I eat refined grains, half-whole wheat bread without special preparation, or brown rice, I feel fine. I noticed heaviness after eating soaked (in yogurt) whole wheat bread or stuff like cracked wheat and oatmeal bread. However, I notice that in the winter, if I eat a bowl of oatmeal everyday, my stomach seems to get used to the whole grains and I go back to [having no notice of digestion] with whole grains. If I eat a lot of cracked wheat I get some discomfort.”

  • There was a noticeable increase in gas with only whole grains, and “I was sad to see that I still got really tired after eating lunch just like I always do. Both my husband and I felt fuller after whole grain meals (he wasn’t exclusively whole grain) which helped us not to snack.”

  • Some thoughts on previously noted “trigger foods” going into the challenge: “My husband’s ADD symptoms get worse if he has sodas and fast foods. My son (he’s 1) definitely seems to be addicted to sweet tastes and grains to the point where we have to hide fruit and bread to get him to eat his dinner. He will sign "more" constantly and avoid savory food. He spits out meat. Makes me kick myself for following pediatrician recommendations to start him off on grains and mushed fruit!”

  • Final thoughts: “I was really pleased at how easy it was to adapt my cooking to only whole grains; it made me feel like we had already made a lot of positive changes in our diet. I did get really sick of only whole wheat bread (homemade) by the end, especially since it gave me gas.”

Owie Mama

  • Formerly ate any sort of grains, from refined to sourdough to soaked whole grains and chose to take the plunge with no grains for the challenge.

  • Saw no changes in energy or emotions, but the appetite saw a huge difference: “I was ravenous all the time, so that’s probably not a good thing for someone (like me) trying to lose weight!”

  • Similar to my husband, Owie Mama saw a marked difference in her frequency of bowel movements (down from 3 or 4 to only one a day) and the consistency (from loose and fluffy to separate hard lumps). She also lost the feeling of constipation: on grains, she often felt “unfinished,” but with no grains felt satisfied.

  • Another huge change was the overall feeling in her gut after a meal. With grains, Owie Mama often had stomach-aches and frequently experienced gas. Without grains, both issues completely disappeared.

  • She ended up gaining weight (this surprised me, I admit), perhaps related to feeling “Crazy hungry all the time, evening sugar cravings made me insane.”

  • I would love to hear what happened when Owie Mama started back up with grains, wouldn’t you? These radical changes (omitting grains altogether) seem to always have a dramatic effect on people, but always so unique to each person!


  • Another brave participant moved from commercially prepared whole wheat to no grains at all!

  • She experiences low energy and poor sleep regularly but saw no marked change in either.

  • Her bowel movement vary wildly both in frequency and quality, and she seemed to see a slight increase in regularity on no grains.

  • Her overall gut feeling after a meal improved.

  • With her normal diet, KD noticed “After eating grains my energy level always drops to an even lower point. Appetite increases as does cravings for sweets and more grain products.”

  • Once off grains: “I have lost 5 lbs since eliminating grains. I still feel very tired most of the time, so no real change there. I have had a little more difficulty falling asleep, but seem to do well once I do fall asleep.”

  • KD was also limiting all sugars and other starches, including starchy vegetables and legumes.

  • Just one little cheat: “Just remembered I had a small amount (2 Tbs?) of soaked, dried gf oats with a bunch of chopped crispy nuts in milk one morning when I was in a rush and didn’t want to skip eating. No noticeable effects.”


  • Went from eating only whole grains, soaked and unsoaked, to omitting grains altogether.

  • She noticed some improvement in energy, mental and emotional acuity, and vast improvement in sleep patterns.

  • Digestion showed a marked change: from signs of regular constipation to quite regular digestion, including an improvement in frequency, consistency, and feeling of satisfaction, as well as some general gut discomfort disappearing.


  • This family made a permanent change in diet, from regularly eating conventionally prepared whole grains to only sprouted grains, and KT was gracious enough to share her experiences with us.

  • One reason for the dietary changes (of which sprouting grains was one piece of a puzzle) was “In children there were serious behavior problems. Screaming, tantrums, whininess, lack of attention.”

  • Vast improvement was achieved with the behavioral issues, as well as some improvement in energy, mental acuity, and sleep patterns.

  • Digestion and discomfort in the gut seemed to improve somewhat overall, but certainly the biggest change for this family is behavioral, even mom: “I felt more calm and even, more patient.”

  • Final thoughts: “If we cheat, white flour goes okay because it doesn’t contain phytic acid. Whole grains unsprouted is a nightmare — even after months off them.”


  • For the challenge, LH moved from eating refined and whole conventionally prepared grains to using only freshly ground spelt with zero other grains.

  • She noticed vast improvement in energy: “I don’t have as much trouble getting out of bed in the morning and I have seen a huge improvement in my issues with depression.”

  • Digestion changed from every other day bowel movements to daily and also softened up; any heaviness in the gut after meals or feeling of being unsatisfied after a BM also disappeared.

  • One more change: “I lost several pounds– and I made zucchini bread (4 loaves in 2 days) and pumpkin muffins which are all loaded with sugar – and ate a ton of it! I would say that at least half of the food I eat is grains. I only use whole spelt, though.”

I’m secretly glad the last few surveys weren’t quite as detailed, because I was able to get through them! Winking smile  That’s it on the Test Your Grains Challenge, other than our own experiences at the Kimball house. I’ll incorporate those as I dive back into the soaking grains exploration starting next week (I am determined to close that out before pigs fly!). Be sure to sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed to make sure you follow all the conclusions!

If I know anything, it’s that diet and lifestyle changes impact different people in dramatically different ways. I do think we can learn from others’ experiences, and more likely just nod our heads in fascination, but I do want to make sure I remind readers that anecdotal evidence is just that: one person reporting about how they interpreted their experience based on what they could observe (and remember!). It’s called self-reporting, and by nature, anecdotes are incomplete and unscientific. But they’re doggone interesting nonetheless, and perhaps some of these experiences will encourage you to pay more attention to your digestion and/or try some dietary experiments yourself!

And now, I’m off to test a third flavor of soaked and dehydrated cereal from my newest KS sponsor, JoshEWEs’s Garden. (Initial impressions? Oh, my yumminess!)

Don’t miss the last day for sales on Tell Your Time (only $7) and 60% of the Natural Fertility Workshop! Also only 2 more days to get HALF OFF the Designed for Wellness eCourse (details here).

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9 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Renae Lynn says

    It sounds to me like Owie Mama was having serious sugar withdrawals (our bodies handle carbs basically the same way as sugar). I had the same ravenous feeling when I gave up sugar a year ago. You really have to make sure to eat enough protein and good fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil) and it could help to take a supplement called gymnema until the sugar cravings go away.

  2. says

    I’ve been experimenting with different sugar/grain free diets lately for my IC/abdominal pain. I found major relief when I eliminated them all but that kind of diet just isn’t doable for me in the long run. Anyway, if I wanted to try soaking grains, say oatmeal for breakfast, or wheat for baking, how would I go about doing that?

  3. says

    Dairy was a huge eczema trigger over here, although any type of medication, food additives, etc. can cause it. There was a time my daughter, around a year old, was absolutely COVERED, head to toe, in eczema. She’d wake at night screaming and scratching. Her palms were red and itchy too. We went off dairy, then gluten, then grains. It’s gone. It almost never comes back, unless I allow too much “cheat” food. A small patch flared over the holidays, but is gone now. My son had small patches here and there, but never terrible. Not like her. But we knew to look for these things by then. I also make a homemade cream with coconut oil, shea butter, and other nourishing, healing ingredients and this clears up most skin issues in our home.

    This post made me think a little bit about the GAPS infant feeding protocols. Because you mentioned the GAPS diet and how a lot of people going no grain really didn’t notice the huge differences they’d hoped for. While I think for people with gut damage that it’s a very valuable diet (after all, my daughter DID banish most of her allergies and start talking because of it, I’m not convinced that it’s the right diet for mostly normal individuals. My son really, really struggled with “GAPS” food for infants, which recommends starting babies the same way intro works, well cooked veggies in stock. That’s really way off topic, you just reminded me!

  4. Amanda says

    Some of the results really confirmed what I’ve been dealing with – so this project was great! We eat A LOT of grains – mostly fresh ground wheat, not soaked or sprouted (but working on this) – and my son (age 2) prefers grains and fruits; no meats or veggies. It’s getting a bit frustrating and he has such sensitive skin issues that I’ve been controlling with the use of some Shaklee products (mainly keeping him on the multi-powder), but this doesn’t solve the problem that he needs to eat REAL food. I would certainly appreciate suggestions on how to get him to eat the meat and veggies. Also, I would love suggestions for first foods for my littlest, who is 5 months and breastfed. I won’t do cereal, but some first food ideas for when she’s around 6 months would be helpful.

  5. Joyce says

    Katie, are you eating the JoshEWEs’s Garden Soaked Cereal RAW, or are you cooking it? What’s your take on eating it raw from a nutritional perspective? thanks, Joyce

    • Katie says

      I’ll write more about the cereal, but it is soaked and dehydrated, exactly like my homemade granola. Soooo…I may be totally wrong on this, but I’m good with it. I feel like I need some crunchy options in life!
      :) Katie

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