One of the big hurdles people have difficulty overcoming with the Paleo diet is the removal of grains, like rice. Why do we remove grains? One of the primary goals of the Paleo diet is to heal the gut, and grains contain many gut irritants, which would stand in the way of healing.
People are puzzled by how a family could eat without grains. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. And many of the nutrients found in traditional grains, like we know and use in our culture, can be found in other foods. So when we first adapted the Paleo diet and removed grains from our meal table, rice was one of the first to go. We never did eat a lot of rice to begin with, but it was definitely a food item found in my pantry. I used it for the obvious Asian dishes like Broccoli Beef or Sesame Chicken.
Today we use shredded cabbage or cauliflower rice to complete our meals when we eat those same dishes. And thankfully, our kids love the cauliflower rice. We’re still working on getting them to enjoy the cabbage, which is needed for the Low FODMAP diet. Both are great alternatives to rice.
So when I decided to add rice to the meal table last night, it turned into a messy ordeal. I somehow had forgotten how quickly rice and water boil, and soon I had rice water all over my stovetop. And not only did that happen once, it happened three times before I was able to stop the madness. Let’s just say that I saw all of this playing out differently in my head! Clearly I’m out of practice making rice.
Despite being out of practice, we did end up having rice with dinner. It was soft and sticky, and some would call that a success. Surprisingly, both of my kids left most of the rice on their plates and claimed they didn’t like it. Really? What kid doesn’t like rice? We have not included it for so long, they must not really know what to expect in having it for dinner. I guess that means I don’t need to make it again too soon.
However, for many, rice is often the first grain to bring back into their Paleo diet. But which one do you use? White or brown? I don’t know about you, but I have thought all these years that when given this choice, always choose brown rice. Whole grains are better, right? Wrong. There aren’t two different varieties of rice. Brown simply means it is white rice that still has the outer brown shell on each of the grains. And this outer shell is the very thing that contains all the harsh components that irritate the gut.
So if we are going to eat rice, we need to make it white. It is purified of the irritating properties that brown rice contains. But is it good for us? It can be. It does provide necessary carbohydrates that our body needs, but the question of when and how much depends on what your own personal goals are. The thing about rice is that it is simply a carbohydrate. It does not provide any other micronutrients that other starchy foods provide, like a white or sweet potato. So when deciding whether to eat rice, consider what your personal goals are before you take that bite. For me, I’ll keep making cauliflower rice and get my carbohydrates other ways.
If you want to learn a little more about rice, The Paleo Leap has a fabulous article that may help you decide how much rice to keep in your diet. However, if you are working with a healthcare professional that has you following the Paleo diet, check with them before assuming you can add rice to your meal plate.
Whatever you choose, make sure you don’t turn your back on it for a second, or your stovetop might look like mine.