Oatmeal is a breakfast staple for many. It’s filling, warm, and simple to prepare. Unfortunately, if oatmeal is your go-to meal to get your morning started, you may have to rethink breakfast a bit as oatmeal is not allowed on Whole30.
Although oatmeal is widely regarded as being an exceptionally hearty and good-for-you breakfast, it isn’t exactly Whole30-friendly.
The American Heart Association claims that there are many benefits to consuming oats and other whole grains. According to the AHA, they are a great source of fiber and nutrients such as B vitamins, folate, selenium, iron and magnesium.
While this may sound impressive, there are a handful of reasons that the Whole30 creators decided that oats would not make the cut. Since oats are a grain (and grains are never acceptable on Whole30), you’ll have to count them out for the month.
Why Isn’t Oatmeal Allowed on Whole30?
Grains – including the oats on oatmeal – are a Whole30 blacklisted food because there are a couple of factors that can be problematic for our digestion.
As with other grains, whole or refined, oats have protein structures that are often difficult for our bodies to digest along with phytates that block the absorption of any of the nutritional goodness we might get from these grains anyways. While oatmeal may seem like a total comfort food, our digestive systems might not be so comfortable with your food choices after all.
The protein in oats that is most problematic is avenin, which is often associated with similar reactions to gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye. Because gluten and avenin are from the same protein family called prolamine, they often cause similar antibody production.
Although avenin is sometimes the culprit, often an individual’s reaction to oats is due to a cross-contamination with gluten—the grains are often processed in the same environments and sometimes get a little mixed together.
The other part of oats that tends to cause issues is the phytic acid. Present in the highest concentration in the bran, phytates are most often found in whole oat groats or steel cut oats.
Phytates may lessen the nutritional value of a food because they bind to nutrients and reduce their bioavailability—essentially they stick to vitamins and minerals and make it so that our bodies cannot absorb them.
Remember all of those nutrients that the American Heart Association claimed you get from eating whole grains? Oats seem way less nutritionally impressive once you find out that you might not even be able to absorb these nutrients after all!
What Can I Eat Instead of Oatmeal?
Is the lack of oatmeal allowance on Whole30 leaving you craving a warm, cozy breakfast porridge?
While oatmeal may be out of the question, there are a couple of other substitutes you can easily make to keep your breakfast rotation interesting.
- Quick, Grain-Free Hot Cereal. This “hot cereal” is made from nuts, coconut, and flax seed meal for an oatmeal-like substitute that will keep you full, even better than oatmeal would!
- Coconut No-Oatmeal. This no-oatmeal recipe is coconut-based and includes an egg for some added nutrition and protein.
Although delicious, technically compliant oatmeal replacements exist, that does not mean they should be relied upon. In order to truly follow the Whole30 guidelines, you generally want to avoid SWYPO foods. (What on earth is that? Review what SWYPO means here.)
Replacing oatmeal with something that closely resembles oatmeal as a temporary stand-in misses the point! Not to mention nuts are a hot topic on the Whole30 forums as many people have a hard time not overdoing it with them.
Most paleo-style “oatmeals” are very nut-reliant, so make sure to be mindful of your breakfast choices!
Whenever you feel sad that you’re missing out on foods like oatmeal, just remember to keep in mind that this is only temporary. Not only is a Whole30 only thirty days, it is thirty days of feeling amazing to show you what cutting out these foods for a time could do for your body.
Learning to let the oatmeal go for a month might change your life!
How do you feel about oatmeal? Do you have a favorite not-oatmeal recipe? Tell us in the comments below!