Sing it, James! Wheat Belly Blues

About 3 weeks ago, I got an email from this gentleman named James Winningham.

James told me about his struggles with bipolar illness, the cyclic and often extreme “ups” and “downs” of mood, sufficient to disrupt life and family. Bipolar illness had taken him down the path of excessive alcohol and drugs years ago.

He told me how, after reading Wheat Belly and banishing all wheat from his diet, a cloud began to recede from his mind:

I’ve been living with bipolar disorder for 35 years. Along the way I’ve taken a ton of meds, and seen a ton of doctors. . . After I read “Wheat Belly,” and we [James and his wife] made the move away from the amber waves of death, kicking wheat and all the rest of the grains to the curb, the results have been startling.

We have both lost more weight in less time that we ever have before, and we’ve seen many other changes manifest in the three weeks since we quit wheat. Our minds are clearing. Our sinuses are clearing. Our energy level is improving. Our sleep is improving. Our moods are improving. And this is after three weeks. . . We have never had such a dramatic set of changes come out of nowhere like this, and they are happening to both of us, not just me.

James told me that, he was so astounded at his experience, he wanted to write a song about it. James wrote the lyrics, composed the music, played the guitar, and sung the lead part. And, boy, can he sing and play guitar! So, here it is: Wheat Belly Blues

James Winningham, and experiences like his, are the reason I wrote Wheat Belly. Because lives are transformed. Yes, it’s about weight loss and less acid reflux. But it’s also about reclaiming control over your thoughts and moods, those things we hold so dear to our own sense of self. Sure it stretches credibility to accuse the buttered toast you have in the morning as the thing that underlies your demons . . . until it is exorcised.

Wheat Belly Blues
© 2011 James Winningham

Well, I woke up in the morning, the scale just gave me bad news
So I had healthy wheat for breakfast, then I got more confused
I didn’t even know it, but I had those Wheat Belly Blues

Well, I went to my doctor, he smiled but he was not amused.
He told me Calories in Calories out, you’re just too lazy to lose
He didn’t even know it, but I had those wheat belly blues

And then I got this book (Wheat Belly)
I read it all the way through
I kicked that wheat to the curb
And my life started all over new

The scale became my friend
And my relationships improved
My doctor was amazed
My Wheat Belly is fading away

The Wheat Lobby says I have to stuff myself with grains
They don’t care if we die as long as their profits are unconstrained
Let’s occupy our kitchens take our lives back from them,
The Wheat Belly movement helps us grab the helm
So everyone can hear us when we say the news
No Wheat, No Blues, No Wheat, No Blues

Now we wake up every morning, the scale just gives us good news
Never hungry again and so much to eat, we’ve got on our dancing shoes
Now we’re telling everyone, no more Wheat Belly Blues
Now we’re telling everyone, no more Wheat Belly Blues

Wheat Belly Blues

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. I’ve started reading the book because James’ wife suggested it, and I’m through the first two chapters (I got it yesterday). I am so ready to change my cholesterol numbers and she suggested this might work. I am already only eating spelt bread with an occasional foray into a sandwich. Otherwise I am pretty wheat free, not overweight and apparently cursed with bad genes. I’m very interested in the book and will let you know more when I’m done with it.

  2. Patty Amidon

    Thank you Dr. Davis for encouraging James and the rest of us on our wheat free journey! You are a generous soul! Excellent song James and we all enjoy your comments on Dr. Davis’s blog.

    • That should be made into a commercial on TV and Radio!!!!! That certainly would get the message out. Everyone pays attention to all the Food commericals and most of the all the ones with catchy tunes!!! This would really be great to get out there !!! Congratulations to James!!!!

  3. Julie

    Dr. Davis,
    Both my husband and I have seen similar exciting results, as James and his wife, by switching to the Wheat Belly program. We have always been vegetarians but went vegan after my slim, healthy, runner husband with <150 total cholesterol had a massive heart attack resulting in a stent being placed in his heart. No one could explain why this happened and we have looked at everything, most recently Dr. Esselstyn, no added oil, plant based diet. Esselstyn's plan increased his LDL and triglycerides and we couldn't figure out what was going on. Then we read an interview with Dr. Davis in Mclean's magazine and without even waiting for your book to arrive we started your plan. For the first time someone explained why a healthy person in his 50s, with what appeared to be optimal lipid profile, could experience a massive heart attack. We immediately had a more thorough lipid profile done and sure enough, his VLDL3 was elevated and his LDL density pattern was A/B. I am so glad we discovered what was hidden in the basic lipid profile and that we know what to do about it. Not only do we get to get rid of the small, sticky LDL we also have more energy, eliminate the mental fog and, for me, say goodbye to the mood swings I have lived with for decades.

    If you have time Dr. Davis, could you tell us when my husband can expect to see an improvement in his blood work? We are following your program religiously (gone is all the "heart healthy" oats), have added eggs, cheese and limited amounts of dairy (plain yogurt) into our vegetarian diet and he, as he has since 2 months after his heart attack, runs or bikes 6 days a week. We want to monitor his progress but did not know when we could expect to see evidence in his lipid profile (We now know you recommend the NMR but he had a VAP test as is was available to us).

    Thanks for your help! Thanks for having the strength and determination to write this book. We are telling everyone we know about your work. You have made excellent use of online marketing.

    Best Wishes,

    • Hi, Julie–

      Your husband’s experience is a classic story for lipoprotein(a), a genetic pattern that is oddly characteristic of slender people who like to jog, no kidding. I would urge your husband to have this tested ASAP. And do NOT accept the conventional responses of 1) it can’t be tested, 2) there’s nothing you can do about it, or 3) I don’t know what that is. See my many posts on lipoprotein(a) on my Heart Scan Blog.

      A good time to test lipoproteins is about 2 months after weight loss plateaus. That way, you will avoid the confusing effects of weight loss on lipoproteins.

      • Julie

        Dr. Davis,

        Thank you so much for your response. Goods news, lipoprotien(a) was part of the VAP test he got a few weeks ago and his level was 8 mg/dL. Not sure if this low level means he does not have the genetic pattern OR because, since his heart attack over 2 years ago, he has taken curcumin, niacin and a lot of ground flax seed (for the omega-3) as general heart health supplements. Either way he (we) will continue with the plan and supplements, and keep an eye on lipoprotein(a), LDL Density Pattern and VLDL3 results.

        Looking at your Heart Scan Blog realize our post would have been more appropriate there but your book is what brought us to you so…looks like joining your is our next step.

        Thanks again,

        • dale

          Hi Julie, You’ll be in great company at Track Your Plaque. It’s an amazing group of warm, generous, brilliant people. Look forward to seeing you on the forum!

  4. Meghan

    I started the wheat belly diet about a week and half ago and now find myself addicted to raw almonds and dry roasted nuts and eating them in massive amounts. I know the book said too eat as many as you want but can you eat too any (too many calories???)? Perhaps this is why I haven’t lost any weight and am following everything correctly! Any thoughts?

    • Hi, Meghan–

      It also helps to restrict total carbohydrates if weight loss is your goal. You might consider limiting carbohydrates to 12-15 grams per meal.

      Very occasionally, I will encounter someone who is indeed sensitive to total calorie intake, in which case calorie reduction may be helpful. But this is exceptional.

  5. Antonio

    Hey Doc,
    What do you know about purveyors of ancient variety wheat products? I found a few outlets online that sell emmer wheat flour. I have been wheat free for about 45 days and have lost about 30 pounds. But i am a native New Yorker and I am DYING for a pizza pie. Lucky for me (or perhaps unlucky depending on how you look at it) I am the son of an Italian immigrant and pizzeria owner. SO i know how to make a good pie. Do you think these varieties (like this one here would be okay to use to make a bread product that would not drive the unpleasant effects of eating GM grain? Any input you could provide would be most helpful.

    Oh and sorry to hijack the thread here. I am also an accomplished blues guitarist and singer so mad propers to you James for penning this song. I got the wheat blues too!


    • JP


      IMO forget chasing ancient wheat varieties.

      Here’s a much better thing to do.

      Someone else here (I think) had a link to this “Great Pizza Experiment”:

      I’ve now made about six of these pizzas following her “Hybrid” recipe.

      My wife (originally from Chicago) gave me “2 thumbs up” so now we need to see what New York has to say.

      Seriously, would love to find out if a real pizza expert can do it even better.


    • He did a spectacular job, didn’t he?

      Rather than variants of wheat, why not try some wheat-free pizza recipes? Take a look at the Wheat Belly Facebook page; someone just posted what sounds like a really great wheat-free pizza crust recipe.

    • Julie

      Congrats on losing all the weight! I have lost many pounds the hard way, while eating wheat and before I found the Wheat Belly book, and look forward to losing the balance easily with Wheat Belly eating plan.

      About Einkorn wheat flour, there is a commercial variety available from Jovial Foods. I have not tried it but have tried their whole grain Einkorn pasta (half a serving seemed okay, no abnormal blood spikes for us) but keep in mind Dr. Davis thoughts in Wheat Belly (pg. 26-27) and his belief that even ancient wheat strains have some detrimental effect on the body.

      Quest for pizza
      Have you tried making pizza dough out of ground chia seed? Before Wheat Belly (BWB) baked a ton of bread by hand and have been experimenting with chia seed to see if I can get a “bready” pizza crust (have given up on an actual loaf of bread, however, Elana Amsterdam’s site has a promising recipe, Simple Bread, using almond meal I am going to try).

      Back to chia seeds, BWB, we had them sprinkled on dishes to add omega3 to our diet but I was always fascinated by the note on the packaging saying chia seeds had historically been ground and used as a flour. Using my no-knead artisan bread recipe (the one from the New York Times that was all over the web a couple years ago) I started experimenting, making many, mini pizza crusts. Still experimenting but last night we had a great pizza with chia seed crust. The crust was sturdy and you could eat it out of hand but would have liked a lot more crunch to the bottom of the crust. Will keep working on this but think the best bet is to make the pizza crust separately (Bobali type) fully cooked and then add the topping (also cooked), then just add the cheese and put under broiler or briefly in super hot oven.

      Here is what has worked for me:
      – Grind chia seed until you have a cup of chia “flour”. I needed about 2/3 cup of seed, this will vary depending on your mill (I used a krups coffee grinder) and the moisture content of the seed.
      (There is also a chia flour flour available online but I do not know what is in it, if anything, besides chia seeds, just google chia seed flour)
      – Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt (depending on taste and type of salt, I used a scant teaspoon of kosher salt.)
      – Add 1/2 teaspoon active yeast.
      – Stir together and add 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of water. You will have a wet sticky blob that hangs together well and looks a lot like a well kneaded ball of dough. While sticky, chia seed dough is not stringy like the no-knead wheat dough, I think because of the gel that the chia seeds produce when mixed with liquid. Think the viscosity of ground flax seeds mixed with liquid.
      – Cover and let dough sit for several hours or overnight (like the no-knead dough recipe).
      – Pat the dough out into desired shape on an oil sheet, about 1/4 thick. Makes approximately 11″ pizza crust.
      – Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. I turned the oven light on after 10 minutes and kept an eye on the dough.

      ::: This is just my latest experiment, not a perfected recipe.:::

      As I said, when I baked it with a small amount of topping and cheese, the dough was still sturdy and you could eat it as slice in hand, but much softer. Baked alone, the pizza crust got some crunch on the bottom, had some definite bread chew/mouth feel and had some puff to the top. Some things I am going to try next time: bake on a preheated (very hot) surface, like a preheated cast iron pan. Consider finding some of the light colored chia seeds so the crust is not grayish brown, see if I can use even less yeast (1/4 teaspoon or less) and, try cooking at higher temp for shorter time.

      Hope this is of some help Antonio.

      Best Wishes,

  6. Antonio

    OMG! So many thoughtful responses. JP, that site you provided is AWESOME! So many options and so many ideas to crib from/experiment with.

    Doctor Davis, you are truly da man for being here and personally answering these kinds of questions. I cannot tell you how much it means to have you, and this entire community to support me in this difficult but necessary transition.

    Julie, I will definitely try Chia seed flour. I just hope I don’t sprout green vegetable hair on top of my head (which could use a little extra coverage and my wife often says my head is made of clay anyway.)

    I promise to fool around endlessly with these ideas and once I zero in on my “perfect” wheat free pizza recipe, to come back and share it with you all.

    With enormous gratitude (and less enormous belly),

  7. Susan Michael

    Great song! I had been hearing about this book and way of eating for some time and the song inspired me to get the book and give it a try!

  8. Gigi

    I just got the book, “Wheat Belly, Lose the wheat, lose the weight”, on my Kindle yesterday and have read most of it already. I am a nurse with lactose intolerance…and was shocked at what I learned from this book. Starting tomorrow, I am tossing out every wheat containing product in my freezer and pantry…which is pretty much everything from the research I’ve done. I have a wheat belly…that seems to grow by the day….while the rest of me is almost normal size.

    I intend to change the way I eat because I must!! I look like crap but most importantly, I feel like crap 99% of the time after I eat. Everything I have been eating has contained some form of “wheat”…and I mean everything. Breads, cereals, soy sauces, pasta, soups…it’s been hell lately and seems to get worse by the week.

    Thank you Dr. Davis for making this book available and bringing to light what most people don’t know about wheat. It all makes sense. I will let you know in a month…what the changes in diet have done for me. I’m very excited to get going on this. :)


    • Dr. Davis

      Wow, Gigi: a late-night/early-morning wheat purge!

      By doing so, you are taking back control over your life. I am optimistic that you are going to experience a health makeover sans wheat. Please let us know what you experience.

      Remember: About 30-35% of people who go wheat-free will experience a wheat withdrawal syndrome, similar to an opiate withdrawal syndrome. If you’ve had patients with withdrawal from opiates or alcohol, you know how wild that can get. This won’t be as bad as that, just fatigue, sadness, and difficulty functioning for a few days. Everyone survives! Then the health fireworks begin.

      • Gigi

        Ok, I’ve done it, tossed out every single product in my home containing wheat and hidden forms of wheat. My pantry is pretty much empty and so is my freezer.
        I made a trip to the health food grocery store today and spent almost $500 replacing everything with gluten free products. I have brown rice, brown pasta, dried fruits, fresh veggies and gluten free soup stocks, absolutely gluten free oats from a reputable company (did my research), rice only cereal etc. I will be baking my own bread…but since I must, I will most certainly be eating LESS as I hate to bake. :) Sure going to miss ciabatta…. but I refuse to give in and go back, I just won’t do it now that I know what I know.

        Dr. Davis, I have also been promoting your book on Twitter…I feel it’s THAT important people know.

        I wish I had known about these things a long time ago…it wasn’t until I starting feeling so crappy everyday that I did some research. So far today, I’ve only had a hard boiled egg, a little brown rice, a few nuts and dried cranberries. NO STOMACH ACHE…no bloating…already, I feel 90% better.

        Thank you again Dr. Davis for bringing this to light…God Bless You!

        Gigi in Ohio

        • Gigi

          And thank you for the reminder about “wheat withdrawl”…I forgot about that. And yes, I had many patients who addicts over the years…I felt so bad in the past year with the intolerance symptoms…I’m actually looking forward to the withdrawl. LOL It has to better than actually eating the stuff.

          Just having more energy at the gym…and swimming laps…I so look forward to that. And losing this stomach…I am the lady at the far right at top of this page….can’t wait to be far left…how wonderful that would be!

  9. Gigi


    It’s been 16 days since I gave up all wheat and wheat containing products.
    I feel much, much better overall already. I am someone who ate ALL THE TIME…constant cravings,
    I always felt hungry—for years!!!
    And now…I no longer feel hungry—almost never. I literally have to remind myself to eat and being
    overweight, that’s not me.

    I’ve lost 3 lbs in 15 days and 1″ off of my abdomen.
    But the best part is, I feel good!!!

    • Dr. Davis

      Very nice, Gigi!

      You can see why it is becoming increasingly clear that Big Food has understood this phenomenon for many years and used it to increase sales, but never uttered a word about it to us.

      • Gigi

        Absolutely true!

        **Update** 6 lbs lost as of today.
        I am promoting the heck out of your book!! :)

  10. Gigi

    It’s been 1 month off ALL wheat and wheat containing products.
    Have lost 11 lbs and now on 1/2 the dose of my blood pressure medication and getting it
    reduced further as my blood pressure is low @ 100/54 range for the past 6 days. Wow!! Wow!! I never
    thought this would happen, not by a long shot. :)

  11. In just 7 weeks, 19 lbs off, 1.5″ off waisteline
    Blood pressure & HR normal ilmits on 1/3 dose and 1 med dropped entirely.
    I NOW have energy to walk daily, swim daily…and just feel great overall.
    I am so, so pleased I discovered the book written by Dr. Davis. I truly had no idea wheat
    was causing all the problems I had that only seem to improve with each passing week.
    The weight loss!! I carried that extra weight for the past 7 years and it just keeps coming off.
    I’ve cheated twice while out to dinner…and paid dearly for it afterwards, pancakes one day
    and 2 slices of white bread. Disaster. :)
    I have to say, the worst tasting dish I’ve made is gluten free pasta and soy cheese Mac & Cheese. Ugh.
    Find myself eating lots of humus, raw veggies, 2 servings of fruits/day, lentil soups, lima bean soup, any
    kind of GF soup is my usual diet along with salmon, cod and scallops. Rice cereal with ground flax…
    You get used to it.