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A Wheat-Free Experiment September 29, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Less IS More.
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Donald-DuckaPerhaps more than any other food, wheat permeates our diet.

We find wheat in breads, bagels, baguettes, rolls, muffins, biscuits, cereals, granola bars, cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, puddings, pizza, pasta, tabbouli, crackers, pretzels, beer, chips, veggie burgers, etc.

As a vegetarian, my diet centers around fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, grains . . . and chocolate.

Giving up wheat was the furthest thing from my mind.

Woodstock-&-Snoopy3Or it was until I heard Dr. William Davis during a PBS Fundraising Special ~ Wheat Belly, Total Health.

At first, what he was saying flew in the face of “truths” I had assumed to be true about “heart-healthy whole grains.”

I laughed at his concerns while munching on a bagel.

But his comments stayed with me.

I requested a copy of his first book, Wheat Belly ~ Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, from the local library.

I read with resistance.

I.  Did.  Not.  Want.  To.  Give.  Up.  Pizza.

Donald-Duck-Lazy

What would life be like without wheat?

No Bagels for lunch. No Grapenuts cereal for breakfast. No Triscuit Crackers with peanut butter as a snack. No Macaroni & Cheese.  No Lo Mein.  No Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce.  No Minestrone Soup.  No Spaghetti.  No Lasagna.  No Grilled Vermont Cheddar on Toscano Pano.

No Pizza.

Donald-Duck-BaseballIn spite of my resistance to his message, I kept reading, wondering if there was even a wheat berry of truth to his claims.

He provided a number of anecdotes about people barely able to walk into his office due to excess weight, joint pain, and lack of energy, who (after giving up wheat) bounded into the office at their next visit.

Hmmm . . .

I decided to conduct a Wheat-Free Experiment to see what changes, if any, I noticed in the Health and Wellness department.

Donald-Duck-MadI assumed the first thing I would notice was anger and annoyance at being deprived of some of my favorite foods.

Nope.  My mood got better, not worse.

I assumed that without the adjunct of bread with lunch and dinner that I would be ravenous between meals and go to bed hungry.

Nope.  My appetite dropped without the appetite-stimulating effect  wheat has on the brain.

Mickey-In-HammockI assumed I would toss and turn in bed at night, with visions of sugar plum pudding dancing in my head.

Nope.  Instead of sleeping in 2-3 hours stints, I began sleeping for 3, 4, and 5 hour stretches.  I stopped waking every 2 hours for a pee break.  Once a night is now enough.  (I’ve also noticed fewer “pee prompts” from my bladder during the day.)

For the past week, I’ve woken feeling rested, awake, aware, and ready to face another Wheat-Free day.

The number on the bathroom scale has dropped a couple of pounds ~ this morning I weighed less than at any time in the last 10 years.

Mickey-OKLong-standing neck pain has improved ~> after just one wheat-free week, my neck is pain-free for the first time in at least two decades!

Afternoon headaches spiraling up from my neck have also disappeared.

The “mental fog” is lifting.  When I sit down to a task, I do so with greater cognitive clarity.

My youthful “can do” and “do it now” attitude has returned after an extended hiatus, allowing me to get things done today (e.g., writing this post) rather than putting them off until tomorrow . . . or the day after tomorrow.

Mickey-SurferIn a nutshell, I feel more like the “old me” ~> younger, more enthusiastic, more motivated, more alive.

That said, it’s still “early innings.”  I’m not ready to swear off pizza for the rest of my life.  Yet.

But, if these changes become the new norm . . . giving up pizza would be a small price to pay.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

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Comments»

1. roughwighting - September 29, 2016

Wow. I have the same reaction in the beginning as you do – I am NOT giving up my pizza. But, I could give up my bread, even though my breakfast is usually wheat toast with peanut butter. I’ve tried gluten-free things and BLAH. I’d rather just give it up than replace it. Except pasta; the gluton-free pasta isn’t bad. I have a good friend who had horrible auto-immune issues…until she gave up wheat. Like you, she feels (and looks) years younger, and ran her first half marathon last week. Keep us up with your progress.

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

I’ve been amazed at the changes I’ve noticed in such a short time. Dr. Davis described the negative impact that wheat can have on our brains and our endocrine and immune systems . . . but I wasn’t buying it UNTIL I went Wheat Free and noticed so many improvements in how I felt.

Still in the experimental stage . . . but I’m “open” to the possibility that he’s on to something when he says that “healthy grains” aren’t so healthy.

2. Rainee - September 29, 2016

I used to think I was gluten intolerant and was gluten free for a few years. I found it difficult but not impossible. I was tested and found out I wasn’t intolerant to gluten but I do still try to avoid too much wheat. I eat rice wraps (they include some wheat) and I have rolled oats, yogurt and blueberries for breakfast. I find the gluten free pasta is fine and buy it all the time. Good luck with your experient and I hope you keep getting positive outcomes :).

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

Thanks, Rainee. My sister is gluten free so I’ve tried several gluten free pastas that taste OK. But, if Dr. Davis is correct, the problems with wheat go beyond the gluten (which has a negative impact on the colon) ~ other proteins in wheat affect the brain, as well as the immune and endocrine systems.. He’s also concerned with the make up of many gluten free products which rely on tapioca starch, potato starch, rice starch, etc.

That’s why I decided to go wheat free rather than gluten free. I’m not replacing wheat products with gluten free products. I just cut out everything with wheat. For now.

If I stick with Wheat Free for the long haul, then I’ll explore replacement products for some of my previous favorites.

Rainee - September 29, 2016

Sounds like a good plan Nancy. I hope you keep getting positive results 🙂

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

Thanks!

3. Jill Weatherholt - September 29, 2016

I’ve never been much of a bread eater, but there’s no way I could give up Triscuits! Have you seen all of the new flavors? Red Bean Roasted Red Pepper…YUM! They advertise they’re made out of brown rice…hum…no doubt there’s some wheat slipped in. Oh well, it’s healthy to have a vice or two. Glad you’re feeling great, Nancy!

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

Thanks, Jill. I have tried several of the flavored Triscuits (I liked Rosemary & Olive Oil the best), but I went back to the original with just 3 ingredients: whole grain wheat, vegetable oil, sea salt. For now, my Triscuit consumption is on hiatus until I decide whether or not to add wheat back into my diet.

4. Tippy Gnu - September 29, 2016

I assume there is no wheat in Cheezits. It’s pure cheese. I don’t even have to look at the ingredients list. I just know this has to be true.

Glad things are working out in the first innings. Let us know how the middle and late innings work out.

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

Haha! I’m sure you’re right about Cheezits. How else could they be that bright cheery Cheezit color?

5. Kate Crimmins - September 29, 2016

Another blogger I follow has gone wheat free and swears by it. I’m not a believer myself. I work with everything in moderation although I’ve had to give up some “intense” dairy like cream cheese because of digestive disruptions. I have many friends who have gone gluten free (is that the same thing?) but I was tested and don’t have either Celiac disease nor gluten sensitivity (which is different). Good luck and keep us posted. You’ve been my pizza buddy. No one else loves it like we do.

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

Like you, I believe in moderation. But I decided to cut out ALL wheat for a few days just to see what happened. I have been AMAZED at how much better I feel. “Everything” has improved ~ energy, concentration, mood, pain, sleep, colon, bladder, etc.

I didn’t do this for Celiac or gluten sensitivity either. More because I just didn’t feel as “vibrant” as I wanted to feel.

And I was dubious, skeptical, and prepared to abandon the experiment as soon as I knew it wasn’t for me. But I’m beginning to think that Wheat Free may be the way for me to be.

P.S. As part of the “control” for the experiment, I shall dive into a pizza in a week or so to see what happens. If it doesn’t make me feel “bad,” maybe we can still be pizza buddies!

6. Val Boyko - September 29, 2016

I believe it Nancy! Good for you in taking the plunge!!. I try to be carb free for several days to allow my body to lighten up. Bread, pizza and pasta really bog me down. Which is tough when my hubby cooks his Italian dishes!

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

This experiment will have several phases. Although Dr. Davis is convinced that ALL wheat should be avoided ALL of the time, I’m still on the fence. Hence, I’ll be my personal “guinea pig” to find out what works for me.

Phase One ~ No Wheat for ??? days. (I didn’t expect to notice any changes at all, but I feel so much better and am not missing wheat yet so I’ll stay in this phase for a while longer.)

Phase Two ~ Add organic whole wheat products (like homemade whole wheat bread) into my diet for a few days and see what happens. If my feelings of health and well-being take a nose dive, I’ll return to Phase One.

Phase Three ~ Try a regular pizza or some pasta and see how I feel, how I sleep, whether my appetite sky rockets, etc.

Mostly, I just plan to stay tuned in to how I feel and use that (rather than Dr. Davis’s opinion) as a barometer.

Val Boyko - September 29, 2016

That’s a great plan Nancy! I went through a similar experiment when I was at Kripalu Yoga Center. I found I could add whole grains and still feel balanced. Pizza is such a drag on my body… But you know, it’s worth indulging in now an again, as long as I compensate with lots of fiber and veggies the next day!
It really is about awareness and tuning into the effects of what we put into our bodies! Xo

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

When we have take-out pizza at home, we eat 1 slice each . . . rounded out with veggies, fruit, or salad. Same thing with pasta-based meals. But the cumulative impact of eating wheat-based products at most meals and snacks may have had a detrimental impact on how I was feeling since I’m feeling so much better after cutting out the wheat..

As I continue to experiment, I’ll listen to what my body is telling me ~> “Look deep, the answers lie within.”

7. Bun Karyudo - September 29, 2016

I’d never even heard of a wheat-free diet before. I’m glad that it’s working for you. I think I’ll wait a bit later and see how things progress before I think about giving up pizza, though. 🙂

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

This experiment has surprised me in so many ways, Bun. That’s why I decided to mention it sooner rather than later in case anyone else is curious about cutting out wheat to see what happens.

Dr. Davis is convinced that wheat is a “toxin” that causes a number of health problems in humans because we were never intended to eat grasses. He also advocates cutting out most other grains ~ oats, barley, farro, cornmeal, etc.

BUT he was a diabetic and is very focused on the insulin spikes produced by starchy food. I’m coming at this from the angle of just wanting to eat good food that makes me feel good.

Bun Karyudo - September 29, 2016

I could give up a lot of products made with grains, but pizza would be tough and also oats. I love oat-based snacks and cakes. Yet again, my tummy and my sweet tooth would have to fight it out. 🙂

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

I couldn’t do it to prevent a “possible” health risk down the road . . . but feeling better and being pain free and sleeping better RIGHT NOW are pretty strong incentives.

Bun Karyudo - September 29, 2016

That’s true. The results do sound very impressive.

nrhatch - September 30, 2016

Although these anecdotal changes are largely subjective, the cumulative effect is enough to convince me to stay with the experiment for a while longer.

To feeling good and eating good!

8. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - September 29, 2016

I’m interested in seeing how this works for you… I’ve been hearing a few things that are starting to get my attention!

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

If you’re interested, I’d say . . . Just Do It! Stop eating wheat for a few days and see how you feel.

I expected to do that, see that I felt the same, and return to my regular vegetarian diet. Instead, I started noticing less hunger, weight loss, decreased pain, better energy and concentration, improved mood, better sleep, and greater efficiency. So I’m going to stick with it and see whether these changes become the new norm.

Just the relief from constant nagging neck pain would be enough to steer me away from wheat. No pain = GOOD!

9. Eileen - September 29, 2016

Wow. I needed to hear this. Shall try it. Will have to give away a lot of freezer items, but think it will be worth it.

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

I didn’t clean out the cupboards, pantry, fridge, or freezer yet, Eileen. I just dove in to see what would happen.

I half-expected it to be a short-lived experiment so I wasn’t about to toss the wheat out of the house. Plus BFF isn’t ready to experiment with a Wheat Free lifestyle. And I still want to experiment a bit to see what happens if I have wheat once or twice a week.

So, while the freezer keeps an eye on our stash of bagels and ciabatta rolls, I’ve been enjoying yummy wheat free dishes for lunch and dinner ~ chili, black beans and rice, pea soup, dirty rice, baked potatoes, twice baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, steak fries, roasted cauliflower and asparagus, etc.

Enjoy experimenting!

10. L. Marie - September 29, 2016

I’ve been trying to cut down on bread. A friend of mine has Celiac’s disease, so she’s given up gluten.

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

I’ve ignored the Gluten Free bandwagon for a number of years since (a) I don’t have Celiac’s disease and (b) I love pizza.

But what he said about all our meals being permeated with wheat hit home and I decided to see what would happen if I focused on creating all wheat free meals. I’ve found that it’s EASIER than I thought it would be and that I feel BETTER than I imagined I would ever feel again. So I’ll stick with it awhile longer and then experiment with adding in various wheat products and watching what happens.

11. Ally Bean - September 29, 2016

I go to a LMT who has gone the wheat-free route. Or at least she has in regard to American wheat products. She claims that the proteins in European wheat are different than those in USA wheat, so she buys Italian dried pasta when the “pizza” cravings come on. Whether this is true, I dunno– but there you go. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

She may be right ~ I read that the protein make up in Duram Semolina wheat (used in pastas) is different.

http://www.stephenyafa.com/blog/2015/1/21/good-carb-bad-carb-why-gluten-rich-durum-wheat-pasta-is-healthy

Once “Phase One” is complete, I’ll do more experimenting to see whether eating wheat on an occasional basis causes me to feel worse and also whether certain wheat is better (for me) than others. I suspect that the ubiquitous wheat flour used in baked goods and pastries is “worse” for me than the wheat used in pasta, tabbouli, etc.

12. suzicate - September 29, 2016

Amazing the difference I feel when I stay away from bread, but oh, how I love my pizza! I’ve tried making pizza with a cauliflower crust, and it was pretty good. I’ve experimented with alternate flours; some work, some don’t. As long as I stay away from gluten my fibromyalgia symptoms disappear, but come back when I splurge. I still eat bread or crackers on occasion, but it not my daily food these days. However, it might be why I feel so crummy this week…found a flatbread cracker I just love and have been gorging on them with goat cheese.Thank you for this post…this reminds me to just stop it…at least, now I know I’m not coming down with something. I needed the reminder how important it is to watch what I put in my mouth.

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

Thanks for sharing, Suzi. I’ve been amazed by the reduction in neck pain. Since I would willing exchange the bread basket for NO NECK PAIN and BETTER SLEEP . . . all the rest of the positive changes I’ve noticed are just “gravy” (without the flour, of course). 😉

suzicate - September 29, 2016

I also realized I haven’t drank my sole’ water this week…and that may very well be what happened to my energy.

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

Hope your energy rebounds in short order! *BOING*

13. diannegray - September 29, 2016

I gave up wheat 10 years ago Nancy and have never looked back. Within the first week of no wheat my hubby said “you’re face isn’t as bloated as usual” HAA! Good grief – did I really have a bloated face? I didn’t realise how many things in my life were the cause of wheat intolerance – runny nose, sneezing fits, watery eyes, tummy bloat, face bloat, weight issues, sinus headaches, tummy upsets, sudden onsets of tiredness. Until I stopped the wheat I didn’t realise they were all related to that one thing! Someone at work suggested I look into the family history and when I did I found that my ancestors (way back) didn’t eat wheat (wheat was originally domesticated in Asia). My ancestry is British/Scottish/Welsh where other grains were used. The introduction of wheat into the western world has caused an intolerance to the people whose ancestry isn’t that of Southeast Asia. I’m not sure where I read about the ancestor connection, but it was very interesting indeed.
Best of luck with the no wheat diet and just remember there are many ways to make pizza pastry and delicious breads with other grains that are just as yummy xxx

nrhatch - September 29, 2016

Wow! That’s quite a laundry list, Dianne. Like you, I didn’t connect wheat to any of my health issues until I cut out the wheat and the issues melted away . . . I didn’t even realize I was feeling so “bad” until I started feeling so “good.”

Interesting about the ancestry. I’m half Scottish ~> my grandmother and great aunt cooked more with barley and oats (and tatties) than with rice or wheat. If this becomes long term, I’ll figure out some good substitutions for previous favorites.

14. Under the Oaks - September 30, 2016

Very interesting, Nancy. I eat a bowl of bran every morning and most days a sandwich of some kind with 100% whole wheat bread. Been doing it for years because I need that kind of fiber… I thought. I have had stomach upsets and bloating, don’t sleep, irritable, two kidney stones, and a feeling of being tired and not motivated to do a thing. I have issues with depression and anxiety and it is easy to blame all my health issues on that. So, a typical day would be what I mentioned for breakfast and lunch and then dinner is a lean cuisine which is always some kind of pasta/noodle with chicken. We eat a lot of chicken. CH does not like vegetables but I love steamed broccoli with a bit of olive oil and butter and except for lima beans, green beans, and carrots that is the extent of my vegetable eating. I love avocado. Fruit is pretty much non existent in my diet and does cause stomach upset for me.

Pizza. I know we talk about it a lot but I really don’t eat it often. I used to eat it every week. But in the last couple of years it is a rare treat. I don’t miss it but I do think about Rise Pies … 😉 We love chinese out and it is always noodle with chicken.

Wine. I have a couple of glasses of wine every afternoon, well had a couple of glasses of wine. I haven’t had wine for a week and have had to go without wine for a couple of weeks twice this summer and there is no doubt that I feel better without it. But it is that afternoon wine time that gives me a couple of hours of peace without anxiety and takes me back to when I didn’t have a care in the world.

I could go on and on because I have been thinking about my diet lately and I am not one to want to go in the kitchen and prepare dinner. CH does most of the cooking since he retired and after years of cooking I am happy to let him do that but his diet is ridiculous and he gets away with eating all the bad stuff.

One last thing. I was on a hypoglycemia diet for three years and I have never felt that good in all my life. It was back in the mid 70s. So, I think about that often too.

I will be watching your no wheat experiment with great interest and I will google Dr. William Davis. All the people that have commented here about their issues and diets have been very interesting. This was a great post Nancy. It makes me think about what I eat, and drink which is a whole lot of water and was two glasses of wine a day. I know with the way I have been feeling, something has to change. Sorry this long. This has been my longest comment ever… !!!!

nrhatch - September 30, 2016

Morning, Pix! If you haven’t read Dianne’s comment (@ #13), you might take a peek.

IF today’s wheat is not as beneficial as we’ve been led to believe and IF we eat it at Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, it stands to reason that we are NOT going to feel our best.

It sounds like you might want to try a Wheat Free experiment of your own to see if you feel better. Do you ever cook/eat soup? It’s an easy way to incorporate lots of healthy veggies into a one dish meal ~> just chop and drop.

Good luck!

15. anotherday2paradise - September 30, 2016

An interesting experiment, Nancy. We don’t eat much bread at all, but I sometimes do potato rolls with cheese and tomato for lunch. I don’t know if potato rolls contain wheat. I’m glad that you’ve found a difference not eating bread and pizza. I don’t think I could abandon pizza forever. It’s so nice for an occasional treat. 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2016

Thanks, Sylvia. Most potato rolls are a wheat dough with a bit of potato mixed into the dough. Here’s the ingredient list for Martin’s Potato Rolls:

INGREDIENTS: UNBLEACHED ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, FERROUS SULFATE, NIACIN, THIAMIN, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), NONFAT MILK, RECONSTITUTED POTATOES (FROM POTATO FLOUR), YEAST, SUGAR, WHEAT GLUTEN, SUNFLOWER OIL, CONTAINS 2 PERCENT OR LESS OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: SALT, BUTTER, DOUGH CONDITIONERS (SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, MONOGLYCERIDES AND DIGLYCERIDES), MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM PROPIONATE (A PRESERVATIVE), GUAR GUM, ASCORBIC ACID, DATEM, CALCIUM SULFATE, ENZYMES, TURMERIC COLOR, ANNATTO COLOR, SESAME SEEDS.

Like you, we only have pizza on occasion ~ once a month, if that. I expect that it’ll be fine as an occasional treat. If not, I won’t miss it too much because it’s not the cornerstone of our daily diet.

For now, I want to stop relying on wheat as a staple and see what happens. Then I’ll incorporate whole wheat products back to see how I fare on that fare.

Happy Packing!

16. Debra - October 1, 2016

This is fascinating to hear from your experience, Nancy. My daughter-in-law has been wheat-free for about a year now due to some health issues, and reports similarly. It’s worth considering!

nrhatch - October 2, 2016

It’s been two weeks ~> my neck pain is still “gone” (most of the time anyway). I’m still sleeping better and thinking better and my mood is better.

But I dreamt about taking a bite of a pecan bar last night. 😉

17. NancyTex - October 2, 2016

I know this to be true for me and yet…. BAH! I love bread. Makes me sad knowing there is better health on the other side of going wheat free when I realize how much I would miss the joy of eating favorite food items. Good luck with your continued experiment!

nrhatch - October 2, 2016

Thanks, NT. I thought I would miss eating wheat, but I don’t. I am satisfied with the meals and snacks I’ve been eating and don’t have any cravings for bread or pasta.

It helps that I feel so much better. No neck pain = GOOD!

NancyTex - October 2, 2016

Yeah, I didn’t miss them right away either. 🙂 Failed to mention that I was wheat-free for a year.

By month 9 I felt like I was angry a lot. By the 12 month mark, I felt capable of assassinating anybody who dared eat a bagel within my line of sight.

nrhatch - October 2, 2016

Gotcha! I’m not willing to trade feeling better in some ways with feeling a whole lot worse in others. If being wheat free creates “new negatives” I shall continue to experiment to find the right balance for me.

Sounds like that’s what Tiny did ~ comment #18.

18. Tiny - October 2, 2016

There is so much truth to this. We have lived almost wheat free for two years now and it is good! Once or twice a year we order pizza or have a special pasta once a month or less. And a piece of rye bread on occasion. Hubby has lost 50 lbs and moi only a few, but life clearly got a jolt from this change of diet.

nrhatch - October 2, 2016

Thanks! I expect that “almost wheat free” will be where I end up too, Tiny. I feel better, but I might enjoy the occasional pizza or pasta down the road.

19. samiveloso - October 3, 2016

Came over from Piglet in Portugal’s blog. I’ve also read Dr Davis and it’s such a wake up call! My husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last year and all his Dr did was put him on tablets. I did some research and after reading some interesting books I changed our way of eating – we went wheat free (with few exceptions), reduced sugar, even eating less sugar loaded fruits, no processed foods – we both lost weight and my husband’s blood sugar is back to normal.
Good luck with your experiment!

nrhatch - October 3, 2016

Yay! So glad that your husband was able to get his blood sugar back to the normal range by a DIET EDIT. Keep up the good work!

20. Behind the Story - October 5, 2016

A few years ago I took a blood test that showed an intolerance to wheat, dairy, and eggs. According to what I’ve read about adult onset asthma, I should steer clear of anything my body reacts to in this way, and mostly I’ve done that. Unfortunately, I’m still fighting the asthma. I wish I could report a better outcome.

nrhatch - October 5, 2016

That’s a shame that the asthma didn’t clear up, Nicki. Of course, you might feel “worse” if you hadn’t made the suggested dietary changes and swapped out your carpets for hard wood floors.

Behind the Story - October 5, 2016

That’s the way I look at it, Nancy. I’m not worse, and maybe even a little bit better.

nrhatch - October 6, 2016

Good luck avoiding triggers, Nicki.


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