Wheat Belly

Several months ago, I read an article, on my iPAD, from Spirituality and Health talking about the findings from a book called “Wheat Belly.”  I was completely dumbfounded to learn that whole grain wheat, something millions of Americans believe to be a healthy food, is as bad for most people as the Wonder Bread of my youth that “helps build bodies 12 ways…”

It turns out that back in the grand experimental days of the fifties; fertilizers were introduced to wheat production in order to increase crop yields. This effectively changed the growth characteristics of the wheat plant, making it grow faster and taller, which in turn, made harvesting problematic. In order to keep the benefits but eliminate the production issues, cross breading was employed to make the wheat grew shorter and allow for easy harvesting of a larger crop. Voila! Wonder Wheat was born!

Unfortunately this miracle process also altered the glycemic index of the wheat to look a lot like refined sugar.  In other words, wheat now leads to intense cravings just like sugar.  Consumption of modern wheat products creates cravings in the body for …you guessed it…more wheat products. Along with a smattering of sugar injected during processing, this creates a vicious cycle that is a food producers dream…and a health advocates nightmare.

The author, Dr. William Davis, suggests eliminating wheat for a full month in order to see the effects it is having on your body. Coincidentally, a year earlier Wayne Dwyer convinced me to restrict my sugar content (not high fructose corn syrup sugar which I refuse to purchase – real sugar) to 15 grams a day. Over the past year, I have been working at this, in large part by substituting bread as a snack of choice. This made sense, I reasoned, because most “whole grains” bread has very little “SUGAR”. Unbeknownst to me, the very wheat in my bread was little different than sugar to my unsuspecting body.

Since my belly had not noticeably decreased in the last year of severely restricting sugar, I figured I would give the “no wheat” idea a go. This “eating thing” is a process, after all. Within three weeks all cravings for any food were GONE.  Not diminished – GONE.  Historically, I have typically had all the will power of a twenty one year old male in a bar with $100 in my pocket to burn.  Now my cravings for any food were GONE!  I was able to eat a meal and not be hungry for five hours.  In the past it would have been more like thirty minutes post-meal that I would be ready to eat again.

There were other changes too.  My joint pain – gone. My sinus congestion – gone. My sleep difficultly – gone. My Wheat Belly – well, that’s going (it is a process), but it’s clearly diminished.  I suspect because of my increased energy level that my Vitamin D deficiency is also improved. The way that modern wheat is digested causes inflammation of the digestive system, which may block the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Understanding all of this new knowledge, presented a few “Issues.”  I was eating so much wheat in the first place in an attempt to be healthy and socially responsible. My diet was mostly vegetarian, and I had completely eliminated land based animals from my diet, was using seitan as a substitute.  Seitan is wheat.  I was working out more, enjoying it less and not losing weight, especially on my belly.

So, since I am not a big legume fan, and wheat was out, I started eating meat occasionally. Because I am something of a food zealot, this meant consuming only grass fed, grass finished, and preferably local beef. Which, in turn, meant drawing on our home equity line of credit to afford, and frankly meat in general does not really taste that good to me anymore. Suffice to say, creating a diet without store bought wheat products has been a challenge.

It is possible to buy Ancient Wheat from sources in the US. Bluebird Farms and Einkorn are a few examples of retailers that sell ancient wheat products over the Internet and these products do not have the glycemic issue of modern whole grain wheat.  It is also possible to get gluten free products, however most of them are worse than wheat in terms of what our bodies do with it.  Following the Weston Price methodology, you can spend several days manipulating these toxic ingredients into edible, arguably nutritious food sources but this requires time and practice. The food preparation choices are rich, diverse, confusing, and all require cooking.

In short, there is no easy answer.  Michael Pollan purports the answer of “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” With the revised interpretation of his quote “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food” to include factory wheat, this sounds just about right.  This means, my answer has become “radical homemaking.” Fortunately for me, Whole Foods just opened a new store close to our home. Unfortunately Penn DOT is working on the road in front of the store.  If you are not from Pennsylvania, Penn DOT moves at a glacial pace in road construction projects. Now, I know that glaciers are moving faster because of global warming, so maybe Penn Dot will finish the road sooner than anticipated.

The real issue for me with radical homemaking is that because I have been “semi-retired” and my wife is working in a 24-7-365 Information Technology career, I am, necessarily, the radical homemaker. I am working to do this new “homemaking thing” while launching a small business at the same time.  Like everything else about living an OnCore healthy life – this too – is a process.

And my financial advisor cannot understand why I will not invest in Monsanto.  Maybe he will now.

1 reply
  1. Rosario
    Rosario says:

    Since my gluten-free regemin began after diagnosis for intolerance ; I’ve sought nutritional direction and assistance with finding a new path for cooking. However, baking has never been high on my list of favorites, mostly because my own consumption of wheat flour-based desserts was never enjoyable and their creation just as unsatisfying. In this book, the ingredients, steps, methods and results are all TOP NOTCH. Great attention and just-enough explanation has helped me create very delectable cakes and pies that I would have never bothered attempting before. As with most recipe books, the paperback version is void of helpful photos. However, it has given my family and friends another glance into the challenges of eating gluten-free; it’s great for sharing recipes with those who’d cook for those with intolerances/allergies.

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