If psychiatrists were to come up with a word for obsession with wheat, it would be sitosomania.
“Sitos” is the transliteration of the Greek word for “wheat.” As kleptomania means being unable to resist the temptation to steal, and flagellomania refers to a passion for flogging and caning, so sitosomania drives the relentless pursuit of wheat consumption.
There is no doubt: For some people, wheat is addictive to the point of creating obsession. I still get rap music shivers when a well-dressed, suburban soccer mom desperately confesses to me, “Wheat is my crack!” Yes, indeed: Sitosomania at work.
Many people with wheat addictions just know they have a wheat addiction. They already understand, even before I tell them, that wheat provides a little “high” and, when the flow of pasta and Danish stops, an uncomfortable “withdrawal” follows. These are the same people who crumble in shame and horror when I advise them that many of their health problems are wheat-related, fully aware of what is in store when their next “hit” is missed.
Eat wheat, feel good. Lack wheat, feel bad . . . real bad. That’s called “withdrawal.”
Recall that, in the gastrointestinal tract, wheat gluten is digested into polypeptide fragments called “exorphins” that cross the blood-brain barrier to exert morphine-like brain effects, effects that can be neatly blocked with opiate-blocking drugs like naloxone, a drug usually reserved for injection into drug addicts overdosed on heroine. Naloxone has the interesting effect of reducing calorie intake, such as in binge eaters. Most of the reduced calories are those from wheat products.
Can there be any remaining doubt that wheat works on your brain?