Before I begin this quick article about my reasons to avoid wheat I want to make it clear that I love wheat based food products – bread, pasta, pastries etc. So you’d think that makes my decision to avoid eating wheat for most of the time just a little bit challenging.
And that’s before you even consider that wheat based food products are everywhere these days, and in modern living wheat can make up a large proportion of our entire food intake. Even foods that you wouldn’t consider to be wheat based foods probably do contain wheat in the ingredients list.
Reasons To Avoid Wheat
With more and more people suffering from gastrointestinal issues, IBS, autoimmune diseases, weight gain and it’s associated health risks, many are opting for a gluten free diet, and avoiding wheat and grains in an attempt to improve their health.
But with so many factors to consider including the fact that everybody is different, it is difficult to advise whether to eat grains and wheat or not, and so I will write in more depth into this in another article. For today I just want to share with you my experience with wheat, what happens when I consume it, and some of the food choices I take.
7 Wheat And Gluten Reactions
When I eat wheat I experience several adverse reactions. After the initial satisfaction of eating something that I find tasty such as toast or pizza, my symptoms are usually evident by the next day. My ‘wheat intolerance’ shows itself as follows:
- Ringing ears
- Puffy or slightly swollen face
- Dry skin in ears and on my left nuckle
- Fat gain around my middle
- If I eat wheat and sugary foods for a prolonged period of time (for over a few days) I often get a cold or the beginnings of one
- Chest tightness and asthma symptoms
These symptoms are anecdotal evidence of my wheat intolerance and I haven’t actually had an intolerance test, however to me the result of avoiding wheat and generally having a low wheat / wheat free diet is clear. I have more energy, my health feels on top form, I have plenty of energy and I get lean body composition.
I do eat wheat at times, periodically, partly because I like foods made from it and partly to make life easy when eating out at a friends or social occasion.
When I do eat wheat or grain based carbohydrates, I seem to gain body fat very quickly, which is most frustrating given my love of bread based products! If I have a special occasion or reason to eat what I want, or if I am tired and just want to eat some comfort foods, I can quite easily put on a kilogram or two in a day.
While I understand this is glycogen storage to an extent, but my waist circumference will increase and visibly show fat on my stomach and hip areas.
As you may know if you have been following my blog for a while this in the past has let to my body weight and body fat percentage skyrocketing in the past – in early 2000’s when I became ill and began researching nutrition, and have since been much healthier!
For these reasons I tend to stay away from grains and wheat based foods in general for most of the time. It may seem like a challenge to do this, especially if you are among the majority of people and base most of your current nutritional habits on grains. In reality it isn’t that difficult to avoid grains, and there are plenty of alternatives available.
If you are interested to try this, I suggest keeping a food diary for a week and identify the types of food you generally eat. On identifying the patterns I recommend identifying what percentage of your food is either grain based, or high glycemic index.
Once you have done this try implementing one new habit at a time that will over time lead to the elimination of toxins/allergens or the addition of nutrient dense foods.
Here Are 5 Rules I Tend To Follow
- Reduce and / or eliminate grains to see how you feel. You may want to do this if you are suffering from any symptoms in my list above or suffer from stomach, skin or any other symptoms.
- Base your food on nutrient density not calories. Find out the most nutrient dense foods and eat more of them. This includes fats such as omega 3 in fish as well as extra virigin olive oil, avocado and coconut oil. Eating more vegetables will help alkalize your body too, as well as a host of other benefits.
- Eat single ingredient foods. What I mean by this is to buy ingredients and cook from scratch. This will help you eliminate hidden nasties found in manufactured food products.
- Include protein based food at every meal. This does not mean you have to live on steak! I suggest including protein from a range of nuts, seeds, lean organic grass fed meat, small fish such as herring and mackerel, almond butter, quinoa, lentils, seafood such as mussels, and my favourite – eggs.
- Ensure you drink plenty of water. Just water. Not juice, smoothies, or soft drinks. If you can, try to eliminate caffeine, and if you really don’t want to try to have it with no added sugar.
I could go on with hundreds more suggestions, but if your are like me, you may find gluten and grain free eating beneficial for your health, fitness and weight loss goals.
That said, remember you are only human, and so don’t be too harsh on yourself if you feel you want to join a friend to eat pizza, or you really want toast on the weekend. If you stick to what you find to work well 80% (90%) of the time, you will be doing very well, and depending on your goals, as with everything the result will reflect your commitment.
Be Aware Of High GI Options
Wheat and gluten free options are often very high GI, and will result in insulin response. While this is ok at times of intense exercise, try to avoid insulinemic food during your sedentary day, especially if you desire effective weight loss as one of your goals or if you have high body fat and show signs of insulin resistance.
Eat Mostly whole Foods
Please don’t mistake my suggestions as another ‘low carb diet’.
This may sound like a low carbohydrate diet but it’s not. It is more about considering your carbohydrate sources and consuming carbohydrates from a variety of sources such as vegetables rather than just wheat.
Aiming for a balance of fat, protein and carbohydrates at each meal from a range of foods is very helpful to ensure you feel satisfied at each meal, and making those choices ‘less processed’ options is also a great step in the right direction.
In my experience opting for whole foods – foods that are closer to their natural state with less processing – has been very helpful. Not only have the foods been more filling due to the volume of unprocessed foods, they also provide nutrients to the body that are otherwise not present in highly processed foods.
Wheat itself can be more or less processed when you eat it and I have even noticed differences in myself when I eat highly refined wheat product such as white bread or baguette, compared with whole grain or whole wheat pittas.
So, that’s it for today, and I hope you found this interesting. Let me know if you try this as I would be interested to know how grain free and gluten free eating improves or affects you.
Do you notice similar results to me?