Friday, March 2, 2012

Ditch Wheat for a Week

Confession: I titled and began a draft of this very blog post a month ago.
Confession: I never completed my own dare.

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... until now.

Starting over: I must clarify that I was not one in the masses of copycats avoiding gluten, mistaking a serious medical condition for a diet-sabateur.  However, I was inspired by a number of sources explaining why wheat is bad for us.  Why we were not made to digest it.  Why it causes all sorts of problems within our bodies.  See Rob Wolff's website,  this Ted Talk, these hilarious guys, or a zillion (exaggeration) other recent studies, papers, and videos.  The idea is simply that our bodies were not designed to digest gluten, and some actually argue the same is true of all grains (and legumes, and dairy, and and and...)
So, I decided that maybe my own gastrointestinal (GI) problems (regular bloating, abdominal cramping) and skin maladies (hand eczema in extreme weather) could be relieved by a change in eating.

Soooo... great!  New dare!  Go a week without wheat!  Woohoo!

My super idea lasted two days.  January 24 and 25, I did not eat any wheat products, and I might have made it another day or two, too, but it was so long ago I forget.  I didn't give in because I was "craving" bread; I simply lost momentum, and was surrounded by wheat and so ate it without thinking and then said "oops" afterward and moved on.

A month later, I went on vacation.  In the beginning, I semi-consciously decided to not eat any bread this week.  This wasn't too difficult, because we made all our breakfasts and lunches in our own kitchen, and when we went out, all I had to do was avoid the bread basket and not order pasta.  This worked rather well, and I really didn't miss it.  The only times the whole week I ingested wheat were the few bites of chocolate cake I indulged in for dessert on the first and the last night away.  Further, I only ate other grains twice: oatmeal for breakfast one morning, and risotto for dinner one night.  Altogether, that's practically nothing in terms of wheat and grains for the week.
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And guess what?


I. Felt. Fabulous.


No bloating. No cramping. No hand eczema in spite of the newly hot weather.  It took a few days for me to stop and notice, hey, I feel pretty good right now, and then another moment for me to look back and see that I had not had my pesky, usually persistent GI problems ALL WEEK!  Instead I felt like a flat-bellied, well-oiled digestive machine.  Instead of waking feeling heavy or sluggish, I woke up feeling energized, freer, easily able to move around.  With that going for me, I kept it up for the remainder of the week.

And... I might keep it up indefinitely?  I am NOT saying I'd 100% give up wheat forever and ever; I may still have some on special meals here and there, indulge occasionally for especially good meals, but, for the time being, I'm feeling pretty healthy and I'd love to stay that way.

Is it possible that I have a gluten allergy?  I don't know--a mild one at best.  I definitely haven't embraced the popular trend to swear off gluten for no medical reason.  I don't think that my symptoms were serious enough to qualify for celiac disease, but they were disruptive enough to make me think that maybe there might be something to this avoiding wheat/gluten/othergrains thing after all.  Would it be worthwhile to get tested for celiac?  Again, I don't think my symptoms were indicative of celiac disease, and I doubt I completely avoided gluten during our dinners out; I'm sure it was hidden in some of the sauces and such.  But (FYI!) I do know that if you want to get tested properly, you're supposed to do it before eliminating gluten from your diet.  So, hmm... for now I think I'll keep up what I'm doing, see if I continue to feel fabulous (was it not just a side effect of a week in paradise?), and speak with my doctor in the near future.  As long as I'm feeling healthy and still getting my nutrients, I think I'm on the right track.

The key, I think, is to continue eating real foods, which makes it so much easier than buying overpriced "gluten-free" processed junk at the supermarket.  Instead, you could eat like this for a week!  With vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts... there's plenty of ways to eat well without the wheat.



What about you?  Have you ever given up wheat?  Did you observe any changes in your body?  If you have celiac disease, how did your diagnosis occur?


If you've got similar gastro-intestinal complaints, an auto-immune disease, or are interested in seeing how much better you can feel, maybe my results can inspire you!  So, I dare you - give up wheat for a week, and see if you experience the same results I did.  Then, please, come back and share!

*Dislaimer: I am not a doctor. I am not qualified to diagnose myself or anyone else with a wheat, gluten, or grain aversion. I am only sharing my personal experience over the past week with removing wheat from my diet. 

29 comments:

  1. I DID! I gave up bread/pasta/crackers/cereal 12 days ago! I wasn't loading my day with them, but toast with breakfast and a sandwich for lunch every day needed to be replaced. I've been tested for everything under the sun (reflux, gall stones, Celiac, ulcer, I can't remember what else). Show all the symptoms but all the tests are negative. So, I started thinking maybe it was just a sensitivity. I replaced toast with potatoes and sweet potatoes, and have rice, beans, or potatoes with lunch. I'm not one to jump on the latest 'diet', but a balanced diet without wheat seems feasible. Plus, I know I will eat it again at some point, once I've given my body a chance to heal (if there is inflammation) and not make it a daily food :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! Glad to hear a similar method is working for you; keep us posted!

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  2. it is is is the way to be!!!
    It's how I am too :)

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    1. Glad I'm not alone; if it's good enough for Carla, it's good enough for me ;)

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  3. It's one of the best ways to go :)

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  4. I haven't because I love bread and pasta, but I also have some pesky stomach issues so maybe I'll give it a try. BTW I also do not think I have celiac but if giving up wheat can help my stomach issues that would be a plus.

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  5. Happy to hear the great results! I have food sensitivities, so I try and stay clear of those things I know my body (stomach) can't handle! Let's just say, I listen to what my stomach tells me it doesn't like!

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    1. Sounds like a good way to look at it. THat's what I'm trying to do at this point--just listen to my stomach and observe what feels good and what irritates

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  6. I feel so much better when I don't eat wheat as well!

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  7. This is something I think about ALL the time.
    The week before I went on vacation, I cut back quite a bit on wheat and, like you, felt great. However, I LOVE breads/pastas, so I've always been afraid to do it. I suffer from stomach issues on a daily basis (bloating, cramping, gas, all that fun stuff) so I really do need to decide what's more important I suppose...

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    1. Ah, I certainly love my breads and pastas, too. I'm with you, there! It is new/exciting for now to cut it out, but I'm hoping that, in the end, I settle into a comfortable balance, where I may eat those things but less often, or perhaps made from different grains (if I do find that it's *wheat* specifically). The goal is to be happy with my food AND happy with my stomach :)

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  8. I did give up wheat for one week last year and noticed that I was less bloated and felt leaner during that time. I used corn tortillas and brown rice pasta. The only grain I really missed was farro but used barley in its place.

    I think I lost about 4 pounds too, without trying.

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  9. Great post! I am gluten free...have been almost 2 years. I have devoted my life and website to it. It has made the most amazing difference to ME, but remembering that it's not for everyone. It's not simply a diet when avoiding it helps you feel your optimal.

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    1. So great that you found what works for you and your stomach. I like the way you view it, how it's simply about feeling OPTIMAL.

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  10. What a great post! I have been having terrible GI problems for a while now. Practically every symptom for Celiac, and I went to the GI doc and got a colonoscopy and edoscopy. They found out I have a torturous colon, hynatal hernia, but no celiac. I got my blood drawn to see if I was intolerant, low and behold I had the positive alleles saying that I was at a much higher risk of getting celiac in the future. I've been gluten free for about two weeks, and I feel so much better already. I used to have really bad eczema on my hands too, completely cleared up, no bloating, no pain, etc. It's definitely a decision that is up to YOU. I didn't go gluten free to be a part of the "trend" but because it made me feel better and that's all that matters. Good luck!

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  11. I love your blog themes... just tweeted to my followers! xo

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  12. Wow! I would love to try out this challenge for myself. I wonder how long I would last? I'm hoping it would clear up my face. It's a mess.

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  13. I'm fascinated by the idea that we weren't meant to digest or tolerate gluten (or dairy, etc) but have never had a reason to give it up, as it's never bothered me. I'm currently doing a Vegan challenge for March, so I'm relying on grains more than usual. :)

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  14. YESS!!! no wheat allows the body to absorb nutrients in the gut. and you feel GREAT! love the post friend.

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  15. Very interesting findings! I am so glad you are feeling better. I, too, have been having lotsa GI issues that you already commented on today :) I haven't tried an elimination diet, but I am planning to in the future. Maybe FODMAPs as that is the one that helps tell you your issues the most (and, consequently, is probably the hardest to follow!) But I want to get the motility possibility out of the way first (and hoping that is the solution!) I love the concept of your blog and daring yourself and others to do things we normally wouldn't :)

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  16. I don't eat much wheat at all or dairy or sugar for that matter, and I feel way better. I basically eat fruit, veggies, meat, and nuts and I am a happy woman!

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  17. I have been having GI issues for the last week or two since I came down with my recent stomach bugs. IDK if it's related to what I'm eating or still recovering from that, but I don't know if I could give up wheat. My love for bread is...so large, haha. I'd probably try giving up other things first before wheat!!

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  18. I'm excited to see how this goes for you-- I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy after years and years of eating it just like everyone else. As soon as I eliminated the stuff from my diet, my bloating issues went away and I lost something like 2 or 3 pounds.

    It's truly amazing how your body can react to certain food groups!

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  19. I give up Wheat or any flour ,if you read what they do just to wheat flour
    you would think about giving it up also.
    Even unbleached gluten free flour has pesticides in them .


    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/03/26/The-Little-Known-Secrets-about-Bleached-Flour.aspx

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  20. I replaced wheat with spelt bread & got good results. Meijer has spelt bread for under $3.00

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  21. I've never been diagnosed with anything related to wheat or gluten intake, but I do know that I feel so much better when I avoid them. I remember one "pasta/bread" feast we had at an Italian restaurant a few years ago on my birthday. 2 hours after the meal I was bent over in agony not knowing why. After similar experiences I figured it out. So for me, it's a no brainer now. I've also recently given up refined sugars (95% free) and I feel even better. It took 3 weeks to get over the cravings but I'm now amazed at how great I feel. It was surprising to see where sugar hides...in prepared hamburger patties, mayo, etc. My weight is dropping too. I know I'll have wheat and sugar products once in a while, but the more I avoid them, the better I feel. But everyone is different. This works for me but maybe not for others. It's definitely NOT easy.

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  22. Yes I currently gave up all wheat/sugart on a 30 day detox now on day 34 and wow no inflammation and not bloated at all. I have only been eating real food and wow down 11 pounds and so many inches feeling lighter. I will continue as best as I can be on this path as eliminating wheat means eliminating inflammation and diseases!!! Thanks God for you and your blog super awesome!!

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  23. I kept thinking I had too many symptoms that I might infact have an intolerance rather than being 100% allergic... bloated, cankers, fatigue, joint pain in my hips, rosacea, constipation, no metabolism ... doesn't matter how "healthy" I eat, which of course always included whole grain and whole wheat... I could never loss weight. no amount of exercise out, cals in mattered... I started to think my bloated belly and face could be a sign or trouble.. with all these others symptoms I have, im hoping it is gluten at least id know what's causing it all...

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