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.


... 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.

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. 

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