Wheat Belly: Quick and Dirty

For everyone who asked for a simplified, essentials-only version of the diet I advocate in Wheat Belly, here it is.

This is the very same diet I advise for patients in my office that achieves spectacular reductions in small LDL particles (the #1 cause of heart disease in the U.S), as well as unraveling diabetic/pre-diabetic tendencies. The diet starts with the biggest step: elimination of wheat. But a healthy diet cannot end there, else you and I could eat no wheat but fill our calories with soft drinks and jelly beans. So the next step is to limit carbohydrates if your goal is to lose more weight and correct metabolic distortions like high blood sugar and small LDL particles.

All wheat-based products (all breads, all breakfast cereals, noodles, pasta, bagels, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, pretzels, crackers), oat products (oatmeal, oat bran), cornstarch-based products (sauces or gravies thickened with cornstarch, prepared or processed foods containing cornstarch, cornmeal products like chips, tacos, tortillas), sugary soft drinks, candies

Enjoy unlimited:
Vegetables-except potatoes; fresh or frozen, never canned
Raw nuts and seeds-raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews; dry-roasted peanuts (not roasted in oil); pumpkin and sunflower seeds
Healthy oils (unheated)-olive, flaxseed, coconut, avocado, walnut
Meats-red meats, pork, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs. (Consider free-range, grass-fed and/or organic sources.)
Non-wheat grains-ground flaxseed, chia seeds
Teas, coffee, water, unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk or coconut water
Cheeses—real cultured cheeses only (not Velveeta or single-slice processed cheese)
Avocado or guacamole; hummus; unsweetened condiments, e.g., mayonnaise, mustard, oil-based salad dressings; ketchup without high-fructose corn syrup; pesto, tapenades; olives

Fruit-No more than 2 servings a day (one serving is a level handful), preferably in this order (best first): berries of all varieties, citrus, apples, nectarines, peaches, melons. Minimize bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and grapes
Fruit juices-only real juices and in minimal quantities (no more than 2-4 oz)
Dairy products-No more than 1 serving per day of milk, cottage cheese or yogurt, unsweetened (Fat content does not matter.)
Legumes/beans; peas; sweet potatoes and yams; rice (white and brown); soy
Dark chocolates-70-85% cocoa or greater; no more than 40 grams (approximately 2 inches square) per day
Sugar-free foods-preferably stevia-containing, rather than aspartame

Fried foods
Fast foods
Hydrogenated “trans” fats
Cured meats-hot dogs, sausages, bacon, bologna, pepperoni
High-fructose corn syrup containing foods; honey; agave syrup; sucrose
Processed rice, rice flour or potato products-rice crackers, rice cereals, pretzels, white breads, breakfast cereals, potato chips
Fat-free or low-fat salad dressings
”Gluten-free” foods

Quick tips:
For healthy breakfast choices, consider ground flaxseed as a hot cereal (e.g., with soy milk, milk, or unsweetened almond milk; blueberries, strawberries, etc.). Also consider eggs; raw nuts; cheese; consider having “dinner for breakfast,” meaning transferring salads, cheese, chicken, and other “dinner” foods to breakfast.
Add 1 tsp or more of taste-compatible healthy oil to every meal. For example, mix in 1 tbsp flaxseed oil to ground flaxseed hot cereal. Or add 2 tbsp olive oil to eggs after scrambling. Adding oils will blunt appetite.
If you suspect you have a wheat “addiction,” use the first week to add healthy oils to every meal and reduce the amount of wheat by half. In the second week, aim for elimination of wheat while maintaining the oils.
Reach for raw nuts first as a convenient snack.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Jc

    If you say we can have dinner for breakfast, does that mean its ok to have breakfast for dinner? – thank you

    • Any meal, or component thereof, that meets WB guidelines, is fine any time.

      I sometimes have cheesecake for breakfast, and donuts for dinner.

  2. Stringbender

    Ok, I must have had it wrong. Just got started for the New Year. So, it’s NOT Gluten Free, It’s WHEAT FREE. So my understanding is I CAN NOT have any from the list below:

    Chips, NO Potato, NO Corn, NO Gluten Free or otherwise
    Potatoes cooked any way
    Sodas, Diet or otherwise (Even Coke Zero)
    Fried Sausage, Bacon, Hamburger Steak

    By eliminating Wheat on the very 1st day I noticed I did not have ANY Acid Re-flux after suffering with this for the previous 3 nights. It has now been an additional 3 nights and NO ACID RE-FLUX. Maybe it’s a coincidence, I don’t know but I’m going to continue to note this and report back here. I had delicious meals the past 3 nights but it appears they were not in keeping with the diet

    Hamburger Steak (Fried)
    Baked Potato (Butter & Sour Cream)
    Steamed Broccoli
    Sauteed Mushrooms & Onions

    Last night was
    4, 5 in diameter corn tortilla with
    Re-fried Beans
    Sour Cream

    Thought I was doing good but turns out I really blew it. Still no Acid Re-flux though. I’ll keep coming back and trying to learn.

    • HungryinTN

      Hi Stringbender! You’ve made a great choice to pursue this lifestyle and you’re on your way. A lot of us find that taking the lifestyle in a sort of step-by-step fashion helps to ease the transition. When I started in June, I simply eliminated gluten-bearing grains from my diet. Then I slowly adjusted my carb count down and eliminated more foods, including corn, sugar, rice, etc. The first results I saw were elimination of acid reflux and a dramatic reduction in joint pain. No I’ve lost almost forty pounds and three dress sizes and I feel ten years younger. My whole family is getting on the band-wagon in their own ways. I advised my father to go ahead and use gluten-free substitutes for the first two weeks (but not so long that he becomes dependent on them – just long enough to make the transition), and then start working on reducing his carb count and eliminating sugar. Once you break the addiction cycle of the gluten, which happens for different people at different rates, I think, the rest of the process becomes MUCH easier. For someone like my father, whose addiction is so deeply entrenched in his lifestyle, the transition can be very difficult, with strong withdrawal symptoms and some unpleasant, but temporary, detox side-effects than can be discouraging if you try to do too much at once. Applaud yourself for the start you’ve made and keep at it. Most importantly, do not give in to any gluten cravings you might experience. Trying to follow the wheat-free lifestyle 80% is far more difficult than committing to 100%.

    • > So, it’s NOT Gluten Free, It’s WHEAT FREE.

      These are usually, but not always, the same.

      > So my understanding is I CAN NOT have any from the list below:
      > Chips, NO Potato, NO Corn, NO Gluten Free or otherwise

      It’s largely about the net carbs, and all of those products are high. Target is 50 grams net carb (total carb less fiber carb) per day; 15 grams per meal or 6-hour period.

      Corn has other problems. See:
      “Corn (aka Maize, and including Teosinte)”

      > Potatoes cooked any way

      Hi gly.

      > Sodas, Diet or otherwise (Even Coke Zero)

      Any kind of pop has only one safe ingredient, the water, which is much cheaper in containers without fancy graphics. You need to avoid the sugar. You need to investigate what alternative sweeteners are used in your market. You don’t need the caffeine (drink coffee or tea for that). You don’t want the acid load of the carbonation.

      > Fried Sausage, Bacon, Hamburger Steak

      Usually not a problem, depending on what’s in it besides meat.

      > Re-fried Beans

      Check the net carbs.

      > Cheese, Salsa, Lettuce/Tomato, Sour Cream, Wine

      Usually OK. Watch store-bought salsa for sugars and adverse oils. Avoid sweet wines, and generally keep alcohol consumption at or below the equivalent of a standard bottle a week, and not all at once :).

      > Thought I was doing good …

      Sounds like you don’t have the book. If you don’t have a copy, I’d start with the new 30 minute cookbook.

  3. honeybelle

    I started no wheat food plan on 1/6/14, I’ve had a terrible headache (which I attribute to withdrawal). the cravings are gone however and headaches are easing up a bit. Has anyone else had these pounding headaches and how long did they last? Any suggestions? thanks

  4. Carey Manuel

    I am gaining weight since I started the Wheat Belly Diet six days ago. If a food is on the unlimited list, one should be able to eat unlimited amounts. It appears all the raw almonds and pecans are not unlimited for me. So in the area of weight loss (which is my main reason for trying the diet – hunger has been an ever present issue for me), I have to count calories after all. Either calories count or they do not. Which one is it? I am not hypothyroid nor do I have a cortisol problem. I exercise intensely 6 days a week and am still gaining weights due to all the nuts I am eating. Nuts should not be on the unlimited list!

    • Barbara in New Jersey

      The idea is to count the carbohydrates you consume. Recommendation is 15 carbs per meal per 6 hour period and 50 carbs total per day. Nuts have carbs. 1/4 cup of macadamia nuts contains about 4 carbs. A full cup of them is 16 carbs or your entire meal’s worth of carbohydrates.

      Many recipes call for nut flours to be used and the carbs should be counted for this as well as the veggies and fruits you might eat. Perhaps re-reading Wheat Belly will help you to understand this basic concept.

  5. Louise VILLENEUVE

    Years ago I had done the Atkins diet and had lost about 30 lbs in three months, however my body ached when someone would touch my arms etc. why would that have been? Lack of something I figured, but what?

    • Barbara in New Jersey

      There are endless “could be’s”. Most probably you didn’t drink enough water and needed more magnesium or even your toxin level was backing up because of impaired intestines/digestion or bacteria overgrowth . Dr. Davis recommends additional nutritional supplements as well. Check on the left hand side of this blog for that topic or even read the book for a better understanding.

  6. Phyllis Krupp

    How could hummus be an unlimited choice but beans are limited? Isn’t hummus made from chickpeas?

    • > How could hummus be an unlimited choice but beans are limited?

      The apparent assumption is that the hummus is being consumed in condiment quantities, and not as a main dish.

      • Phyllis Krupp

        But a condiment quantity would not be.considered unlimited. If I sat down and ate an entire cup of hummus that I made from scratch, would that be considered okay? If not, it’s not unlimited. I am feeling a bit frustrated because I have been following the program and gaining weight. (No, im not eating cups of hummus..I havent even had any because Im afraid to eat beans.) The foods that MAY be the culprits are the healthy oils, avocados, nuts, and cheeses. If I have to cut those foods out, this way of eating will be unbearable for me! I am eating tons of vegetables (I always do), and lots of protein…very little fruit and dairy (except cheese). I am also exercising. What am I doing wrong?

        • Barbara in New Jersey

          Why don’t you spend a few minutes to count the carbs per food item and the portion size of that item? The basic rule is 15 carbs per six hour period, 50 carbs per day. One cup of macadamia nuts has enough carbs for an entire meal.

          Perhaps you are taking a medication that is hindering weight loss. Perhaps you aren’t drinking enough water. Perhaps you have alcohol ic drinks which keeps your liver busy processing the alcohol by burning sugar rather than switching to burning fats. This alone can last for weeks per drink until your liver can start to burn the fat. Sometimes there are underlying health conditions like thyroid problems or a fatty liver which must be addressed.

          If you can’t understand the rationale behind small amounts of hummus being permitted, whether made from scratch or store bought, then perhaps you should re-read Wheat Belly for a more detailed description of the basic premises of counting carbohydrates and limiting starches.

        • > But a condiment quantity would not be.considered unlimited.

          Yep. This issue has been raised before, and I’ve already told you more than I know about it :). It all comes down to net carbs, if not actual measured blood sugar response.

          > … I have been following the program and gaining weight.

          > The foods that MAY be the culprits are the healthy oils,
          > avocados, nuts, and cheeses.

          No, they aren’t, with the possible exception of the cheese. On a low-carb diet, it’s almost impossible to gain weight by consuming excess fat. You’d have to eat far more than you feel like. As you can see in the linked “Didn’t Lose” article, dropping dairy for a while can be a useful precautionary measure.

          • Neicee

            Boundless, you are right about the dairy. Just returned from almost two months out of state. While there I got into the habit of whipping cream in my coffee. Instead of eating breakfast the cream prolonged my eating habits until 12:00 or 1PM for lunch. Gained 5 lbs. and since I didn’t change eating habits, the cream has got to be the culprit. Yummy, but have backed off.
            Oh, didn’t have my coconut oil for cooking breakfast and used butter instead. Butter’s yummy too! ;)

  7. Phyllis Krupp

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I didn’t mean to post that twice. Sorry. I definitely do not drink enough water so I will make that adjustment. I also do consume a couple of cocktails on the weekends but it’s usually non-wheat based vodka mixed with soda water. I’m not sure how to calculate net carbs for a food iftem that has no package. I will look for an app on my phone.

  8. Sue

    I have ulcerative-colitis and want to increase my intestinal flora. I thought butter-milk and yogurt was really good and used to have lots of it. How much is ok if I’m trying to balance the flora without having to take too many probiotics in form of pills?

    • Dr. Davis

      Buttermilk and yogurt are generally insufficient, Sue: too few bacteria, too much sugar.

      With ulcerative colitis, you want the assurance of a high-potency probiotic over at least months, if not years, along with prebiotic fibers, such as small quantities of legumes, lentils, chickpeas, inulin, and some RAW sweet potato and green unripe bananas.