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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877 Responses to Wheat Belly: Quick and Dirty

  1. eema.gray says:

    Over a decade ago, something you will find quite astonishing happened. My husband had his first annual physical for his job as a DOD police officer (federal civilian LEO on military posts). His total cholesterol came back so high that when the doctor walk in, the first words out of that gentleman’s mouth were “you should be dead.” (I believe total cholesterol was somewhere north of 400 and only just slightly south of 500.) The good doctor then asked my husband if he knew anything about the paleo-style diet. My husband said no, the doctor told him he should look into it and adopt it. He went home to the woman who is now his ex, asked if she knew about the paleo diet, and she said it was a fad (HAHAHAHA). So he forgot about it. We meet a few years later and I embarked on a quest to get his cholesterol numbers down. In 2011, his total cholesterol was at 215. No drugs. Just less sugar, less caffeine, less grain (my parents are both gluten intolerant and one of my grandfathers probably was so I have a bit of an instinctive distrust for gluten/wheat to start with), and more exercise.
    This summer, I found 2 different paleo cookbooks at my local Costco. My husband looked through them, read a little about what paleo is, and said hey beloved, that doctor who told me I should be dead, he said something about this kind of diet. SCORE! We’ve since decided that cutting all dairy is rather unrealistic for us and we really do love a good bit of proper cheese so we’ve settled on something that looks shockingly like the WF program you recommend. I’m excited to see what my husband’s cholesterol values are going to come back looking like next summer. Downside is that the medium size box from our CSA, the one that’s supposed to feed 3 or 4 adults for a week, is rapidly becoming woefully inadequate about 2 years sooner than we expected (we have 3 young children who love their veggies; indeed, who begged me for braised cauliflower and tomatoes for lunch). Next summer, we’ll have to upgrade to the “family” size box, I think. We’re definitely eating more veggies now!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      That’s great, Eema!

      Yes, many of us are coming to similar conclusions from a variety of different directions. And to think that we are told repeatedly that we ALL “need” statin drugs. You can see that we absolutely MUST be skeptical of the conventional advice to take more drugs, more drugs, more drugs.

  2. James says:

    Since eliminating wheat from my diet, I have not had any acid reflux at all. I used to use Tums all the time after meals. Unfortunately, I was in a meeting today that went through lunch and I had some food with wheat in it (I got trapped and had to eat someting) and tonight my acid reflux returned. I’m definitely cutting wheat out of my diet again tomorrow! However, occassionally I come across the need to have a very small amount of rice with a meal. Is it possible to do this if I try to keep the amount really small? I think I read 15 grams of carbs is the magic number or is this just playing a dangerous game where I’ll get back onto blood sugar spikes? The reason I say I need to do this is I often end up out on business lunches at a Thai restaurant or someplace where the only thing I can eat is a stir-fry but it comes on rice.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yup, you got it exactly right, James: Most people can tolerate around 15 grams “net” carbs per exposure without generating undesirable blood sugar and related effects.

      But NOTHING matches the gastrointestinal destruction wrought by modern wheat!

  3. Russell Cox says:

    I have some questions about other menu items:
    (yes/no; quantity; types; etc.)
    - Wine
    - Spirits
    Recommended Salad Dressings
    Russell Cox

    • eema.gray says:

      - Wine – I personally like a good wine
      - Spirits – most are based on grains and I don’t like the high ABV so I’ve never touched
      Olives – consume in moderate amounts
      Recommended Salad Dressings – the best are homemade; sometimes I make dressings based on homemade mayo, sometimes I just dress with a splash of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and some salt and pepper.

  4. Erin says:

    Dr. Davis. Thanks so much for your amazing book. I’ve suspected for several years now that wheat was the culprit of many of my health issues but I wasn’t getting much support from the health care industry. I was explaining all my issues to a friend a few years ago who recommended I be tested for Celiac, she had been recently diagnosed. I had the blood test 3 years ago and it came back negative, had a colonscopy and no colitis either. Nothing to explain all my GI issues. So three years later, convinced I needed to try again I found a new GI doctor who agreed to do an endoscopy and bioposy to check for Celiac. I’ve also had acid reflux for 10 years and my mother has Barret’s disease so that helped my case. His was also likely more willing to biopsy for Celiac since his daughter had many negative blood tests for years before finally, recently, getting her Celiac diagnosis confirmed with a biopsy. I was so convinced I had Celiac that when the biopsy came back negative I was at a loss, again. Well fortunately a friend from church recommended your book which I purchased immmediately and devoured within a week or so. And finally all the pieces fit together. I’ve now been wheat free for 18 days and following a grain free, low carb diet for 11 days and my health is improving dramatically. The wheat withdrawal was a bit brutal at first but the results have been totally worth it. No more tums or prilosec or any other acid reflux medication. GI issues are nearly resolved. I’ve lost 6 lbs and my waist/belly is rapidly shrinking. I’m in my 40s and have battled my weight for my whole life (pretty much since puberty) and have tried every Dr. recommended “healthy” and crackpot weight loss regime (both food and intensive exercise programs), including a stint of bulemia in high school, only to see minimal progress that was short-lived (yo-yo) and continual weight gain that had recently put me in the obese category. I’m thrilled with the progress but more importantly with the amount of energy I have and how much better I feel. In addition to my acid reflux and GI issues I’ve suffered from depression, psoriasis, chronic fatigue, and a host of othe various issues over the years and I’ve seen dramatic improvements in almost all areas. The psoriasis is clearing up a bit but from having read your book I realize it may take much longer before that is under control. Anyway I just wanted to thank you for taking the time and effort to explain in great detail all the scientific data and research to explain all the health implications caused by wheat. I’m an engineer so having the scientific data to support the results I’m seeing is huge for me. And I’m loving the fact that I can enjoy cheese again- guilt free, especially since I also live in Wisconsin, where as you know, much good cheese abounds. I had severly limited it in my most recent “low-fat” diet. I’m also rediscovering and discovering many new vegetables. The 3 cheese eggplant casserole recipe in your book is amazing and a great replacement choice for this former pasta loving wheat addict. I have a long way to go on my weight loss journey but I finally have hope again that I can reach my goals. Thanks again and God Bless.

  5. John says:

    Dr. Davis, I’m devouring the book (no wheat I hope). I just turned 60. I’ve got type 2 diabetes, had a heart attack with stent placement, and I’m overweight (6’1″ 265). I tried Weight Watchers this past summer. I was eating all day and still hungry (carb addiction). Anyway, thank you for the book. I ordered it from Amazon after seeing an interview you did on YouTube. I’m looking forward to a healthier year ahead. John

    • Mr John Frederick Zablosky says:

      I am about to jump into this lifestyle..I too am named John,and am 6foot1..and 267 pounds. How are you finding the lifestyle change..and benifits?

  6. Carol says:

    Thank you for the book. Very informative.
    I was wondering why only raw almonds and other nuts are recommended. Is there something in the roasting process that makes them more likely to spike blood sugar levels?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No, not spike blood sugar.

      It is mostly a way to minimize potential for exposure to the hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils that are typically used to roast nuts.

      • Lynn says:

        I’ve discovered sprouted almonds with Himalayan salt – outstanding. And sprouting makes them easier to digest. (Unfortunately I overdid with the almonds and got a shingles outbreak — too much arginine.) Have been wheat-free for nearly two weeks and noticing changes already. Excited to keep going.

  7. Marianne says:

    Dr. Davis
    I was tested years ago for Celiac but it came back negative. I am convinced that I am gluten intolerant. I have IBS (bloating/gas), anxiety, brain fog, difficulty falling asleep, Fibromyalgia, and belly fat I can’t get rid of, to name a few. My problem, (although may be viewed as an excuse), is that I have family members who are not willing to forego their wheat intake so I would have to continue to cook for them and would be on my own with the Quick and Dirty diet.
    What are your suggestions with this dilemma? If it was just my husband and I, like it was before my son and granddaughter moved back home, it would be easier. He would eat his bagel in the morning and then eat whatever I make for him for supper.
    Please advise.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I think you’ve got to insist on, at the very least, being allowed to eat as you wish to eat, Marianne. If you had an illness and had to eat certain foods, I would hope that your family has the decency to honor your needs. No different here.

      And maybe you make it too easy on them by preparing all their meals. It is not that different in taste and texture to eat wheat-free. They could easily follow your dietary lead and still eat quite well!

      • Marianne says:

        They are behind me, it will just be more challenging to continue to prepare wheat but I can say, I am not craving it anymore.

        I am finding breakfast challenging. My sister insists that eating that many eggs at one time is too much cholesterol. You don’t eat that every day do you?

        The flax seed breakfast is definitely an acquired taste. I am not sure I can get past the texture of this breakfast and had to use some coconut palm sugar to make it more palatable. The raspberries just weren’t cutting it. So any suggestions to get over the texture would be appreciated also. I eliminated the walnuta because I had just eaten about 10 of them from the shell.

        Thanks again,

  8. Rhonda says:

    I decided to go wheat free a little over a month ago. I had suffered breathing problems for 14 yrs. the drs couldn’t explain why. 2 weeks after going wheat free I noticed I was speed walking across a store. I was amazed and realized I wasn’t having any breathing problems. I have been watching this for the last few weeks and I am totally free of any breathing problems!! I am so ecstatic to be free of the suffocating feelings of not being able to draw a clear breath!! I also have lost the fuzzies when I wake up. I have had a foggy head when waking up all of my life. But now I wake up clear headed!!
    I started this to lose weight and hopefully to clear up my hand eczema. My hand eczema has improved 90%!
    I am losing weight and I am so grateful for all the info I have gathered here. My life is just so improved!! I am diabetic so I will be curious to see what the numbers say the next time I go to the dr.
    I am feeling so much better and not having such down days anymore where I just didn’t feel good with no real reason. I now think know what was causing all of these symptoms. Thanks!

  9. Tim says:

    Dr. Davis,

    What about frozen yogurt, is that an alternative for ice cream??? (oh, please, oh, please, oh,please!!)

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No, sorry, Tim. It is an awful replacement for ice cream.

      However, scroll back a few blog posts and you will see that you can make a very delicious and healthy ice cream.

  10. Clare says:

    I utterly hate coconut. So many of your recipes call for coconut oil. What would you suggest as an alternative please? (I live in the UK – so some/many of your brand names are unfamiliar)

    I’m about to embark on this, and also trying v hard to kick my sugar habit at the same time (perhaps taking on a little much, but I figure giving the system a bit of a shock every so often can’t be a bad thing). This is not going to be pretty for a few weeks. But then with a bit of exercise and perseverence, I hope to be slimmer and happier!

    I’m not normally one for trying diets which seem a bit “faddy”, but I’ve managed to access a number of the papers you reference in your book, and I’m kinda convinced. I guess it’ll take me actually losing weight (in theory if I quit eating sweeties I should be fine, but that’s difficult!) to prove to myself that it works! Here goes….

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Clare–

      Exactly right: This is not so much a diet as a rejection of what agribusiness has been doing to our food.

      Some potential replacement oils: olive oil (extra-virgin when a vegetal taste is appropriate, extra-light when it is not), avocado oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, organic butter or ghee.

      Also, the coconut oil may not come with much coconut flavor. Plenty of times, you cook with coconut oil and there is no taste of it in the final product.

      • Clare says:

        Thank you – I’m super-sensitive to the taste of coconut, so I’ll try some of the alternatives for the moment. I can taste one coconut flake in an entire box of other things. :(

        I have been on so many “low fat” diets (including Weightwatchers etc) that I’d almost entirely forgotten about butter! So I may go with some organic butter, and try some of the other oils for the moment.

        One other question (though I think I found the answer in your book), when you say “fried foods”, I take it you mean battered and deep fried foods, rather than say a stir fry? I love my stir fries (I have a v busy life and it’s one of the quickest and most nutritious thing I can rustle up quickly!), so I’d be sorry to see them have to go… I love to cook from scratch (and nearly always do) so your book gives me some new adventures in cooking and eating, although generally I’m pretty “time-poor” so the quicker things are to cook/eat the better.

        • James says:

          Hello Clare,

          My wife and I have been on this for 11 days now. But we not only eliminated wheat and derivatives, but also grains, dairy products and sugar. The only little compromise is a bit of xylitol I included in my first almond bread (almond flour / meal based bread, very very nice and filling I tell ya! One thin slice, and that’s it, however tasty it can be). I read about this sweetener … quit amazing actually: it protects teeth!!

          It won’t be hard really, because as soon as you remove wheat, your cravings will stop. I have personally not looked back at my (past) favorite foods (French breads, pastries and cheeses, milk chocolate, etc, etc).

          Keep your blood sugar level reasonably constant and close to fasting levels (you cannot avoid a slight increase after a meal of course, as you do have some carbs here and there in veggies, nuts, etc) and you will see how easy it is.

          For quick cooking, I suggest you get yourself a power blender (pro grade like Vitamixx – I just got the 5200 model with the nuts and grains extra containter). I have totally reinvented my way of cooking … and at the moment, my wife and I are really not restricting ourselves when it comes to the amount of food we eat. We eat what is good for us, and until we feal full. That’s it. And with that, I have already lost ~2.5 kgs, which translates to ~ 5.5 lbs (1kg = 2.2 lbs)

          I had some weight to lose anyway (about 7-8 kgs) but that was not the starting point of our complete diet turn-around. The starting point was the realization that we were actually poisoning ourselves with the wheat-based foods, grains, dairy and sugar.

          I hope you will make it … by the way, we don’t really use coconut oil, we only used it once to prepare some buckwheat pancakes for our kids whom we don’t deprive from a savory snack once in a while.

          • Clare says:

            Hi James

            Tanks for your response. I’m on day 2 and I haven’t quite cracked yet, so fingers crossed. I really need to lose quite a lot of weight (bad family history of heart disease – I’m 5 foot 4 and over 210 pounds), so I’m hopeful that cutting out the two things in my diet which appear to me to be addictive might help on that. I would certainly call myself a sugar addict. I LOVE sweeties (candies in the States) and chocolate. So I’m hoping that coming off wheat at the same time might help with the sugar addiction. I’ve picked up some xylitol today and I have a recipe for a rather nice almond/apple cake which I plan to have a go at making. I had a trip to the shops today and was surprised at the many and varied things where you find wheat (stock cubes? Really?!?!?) and sugar.

            I’ve also tried to minimise other grains – no point in replacing one addiction with another! I should be fine in about a week – that’s how long the sugar withdrawal tends to take to work through my system… In the meantime, “withdrawal brain” has asserted itself and I’m totally clueless… Thank goodness it’s the weekend (although I do have to study and write a thesis for university…)!!!

    • Christine says:

      Re: coconut oil
      I’m told there is a difference in coconut flavor in pressed vs unpressed coconut oil.
      Exploring the 2 might help.
      Good luck!

  11. James says:

    Hey doc,
    I am not sure which underlying blog software you are using, but I suggest you make some posts / articles “sticky”. Especially the one above (Quick and Dirty) for new wheat-beaters.

  12. Leslie says:

    I have a problem that I have not seen addressed…I have been following the Wheat Belly Diet very strictly (at least I believe so) for the past week and 1/2. Unfortunately, I am gaining weight (2-3 lbs.) What am I doing wrong? I must give you a bit of background in the fact that I have been to dieticians, done the food journal thing for a month, and stumped them in the past too. I had my metabolism checked by someone that the Dr sent me to, and the results were very frustrating to me. (I’ll give you the “Reader’s Digest” version here…) I need 1000 calories or less to maintain and only 480 cal. a day if I want to lose weight…that coupled with over an hour of strenuous exercise each day just to maintain my weigh! My BMI is 31 and I am 58 years old. I lost 67 pounds 20+ years ago, and maintained it for over 15, but as soon as menopause hit, so did the weight gain. I have been told in the past that I don’t eat enough! Since I started to add the 5 -6 small meals each day, I just started packing on the pounds. I am 5-4″ and now weigh 175. I do Zumba 3 times a week for an hour and walk about 1 1/2 miles about 3-4 times a week. I never eat fast foods, only frozen or fresh veggies, red meat maybe once a month, I do eat chicken and fish, no cakes, cookies or candy, etc. ….and since I have been on Wheat Belly, no grains, gluten, breads pastas, prepackaged “gluten-free”or the like. Oh, and of course, I do like to have a gin and (diet) tonic occasionally!
    So, I’m not sure what I am doing wrong…..Any suggestions??????

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I can only comment generally, Leslie, as it would be unfair to pretend I have insight into your unusual situation given the information. Nonetheless, some thoughts:

      1) NEVER eat many small meals throughout the day. This is terribly unhealthy and a result of the incredible ignorance of the dietary community with regards to postprandial phenomena.

      2) Eat more, exercise less. It should NOT be necessary to exercise to extremes and for long periods to control weight.

      3) Get your thyroid assessed: TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3. TSH should ideally be 1.0 mIU or less and you should feel good: good energy, no cold hands and feet, good mood.

      4) Given the association with menopause, consider progesterone. Unfortunately, most gynecologists will not do this for you. Instead, seek out a naturopath, a functional medicine practitioner, or a gynecologist willing to prescribe “bio-identical” hormones.

      • Leslie says:

        Thank you for your response. I have had my thyroid checked, and I am only in a slightly hypothyroid state..I am taking a synthetic thyroid for that.
        Your view on the small meals are a revelation to me…I get so confused as to all the conflicting information I have been given. It just makes sense to me NOT to eat so many times during the day!
        I will check out the bio-identical hormones…just a bit concerned because there is so much history of cancer in my family (Therefore, that is why I have never taken hormones of any type for this).
        Again, thank you for your insight. I feel as if your approach makes so much sense…I am going to continue to follow and see if I can adjust what I am eating to see if i can make this work.
        Back to filling in the food journal…….maybe I can find a correlation to foods that I, personally, shouldn’t have…….ONWARD!!!!

      • Donna says:

        Dr. Davis, I’m interested in reverse T3. I’ve been told that my T3 & T4 are reversed, but no doctor has been able to tell me what that means. My father was the same. Can you please tell me how that might factor in to my health? I’m 5’4″ and 233 pounds. Just went off Wellbutrin after Celexa and Lexapro; gained 40 pounds over the past two years. Thank you.

      • Boundless says:

        > NEVER eat many small meals throughout the day.

        Is this just a problem for glycemic diets, or is it also a problem for ketogenic, and low-carb grain-free diets?

  13. Pat says:

    Just a quick question for the Doc. I am a little confused on how to cook meat. It states not to broil or fry so is the only conclusion to is to roast or boil? So how would you cook a steak or a chuck roast or maybe we are not allowed these meats on the Wheat Belly… Your help is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Marianne says:

      I believe he says no DEEP FRIED foods because there are recipes in the back that require frying.

  14. Greg Z says:

    What about popcorn?

  15. Mali says:

    I eat raw papaya in salad and ripe as daily fruit,any problem?

    • Boundless says:

      papaya: avoid
      It’s high carb, and high gylcemic carb. A typical medium papaya has 30 grams (25 net) of carbs, which is two meal’s worth all by itself. And there’s 18 grams of sugar, much of which might be fructose. There’s only trace levels of fat, and a trivial amount of protein.

      It’s the gummi bear of the fruit world, and just as hazardous as any wheat-free sugar confection.

  16. RICHARD says:

    I stir fry with olive oil, and scramble eggs with real butter? stopped wheat, what about coconut milk?

  17. frank ridley says:

    I cut out wheat as part of a diet plan after my BP required two medications and my knee was so sore it took me 10 minutes to walk a couple of blocks. The weight fell off. More importantly I was able to quit bp meds and the knee (I was told needed surgery) healed itself.. I stopped the stricter parts of the diet which allowed me to start eating breads again. The bloat, joint pain, fatigue, and mental confusion returned. Now I’m back off the wheat. Feel batter already after a few days! Thanks!

  18. jAYBO says:

    can we have diet jello and whip cream, thanks bjk437@live.com

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Use real, preferably organic, cream.

      The diet Jelly is another story: It has ingredients that us humans should not consume, such as aspartame, maltodextrin, and artificial coloring.

      Have you considered getting your indulgences from the recipes in the book or on this blog?

  19. Mary Lou says:

    Love the diet but need some questions answered, thanks bjk437@live.com

  20. Pat says:

    I have seen some recipes with unsweetened whey powder. Actually it was a biscuit recipe on Wheat Belly Recipe Blog. Can we use?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      It’s not perfect, but I believe you are okay.

      In general, a useful rule: Eat real food, not the pulverized, isolated components.