I don’t think so.
Because I see it every day. I see people discovering that the “secret” to weight loss has been staring them in the face for years in the form of the bran muffin or breakfast cereal, all while they search and search for complex answers, exercise themselves silly, and cry in their pillow in frustration. I see people identifying the key to multiple facets of health, like arthritis, depression, and gastrointestinal struggles, by recognizing that the pretzels and bread crumbs have been the source of the pain. Walking away from wheat yields so many unexpected and dramatic turnarounds in weight and health that, even in the few weeks that Wheat Belly has been out, I’ve already got enough great stories to fill a book–no, several books.
Wheat Belly Blog reader DeeDee posted this wonderfully detailed story of wheat-filled floundering, followed by rediscovery of health and weight control sans wheat.
Three weeks ago my husband, who is in severe pain from osteoarthritis of the knees, came home from his orthopaedic surgeon’s office. “You definitely need your knees replaced”, the surgeon said. “You have to lose 100 lbs. first, though.”
My husband used to be an active man who could outwork and outwalk me. Major depression and major weight gain as well as severe arthritis pain hit him about 15 years ago. Then he was stricken with sleep apnea and high blood pressure. I became the person doing the heavy lifting and carrying in the family, but my weight was creeping up, too. We tried the low carb diet but as soon as we started adding in carbs (whole grains!), we started eating everything in sight and fell off the diet. His blood sugar became elevated, and he started taking Metformin along with his antidepressants, blood pressure medication, and anti-inflammatories for his joint pain.
In the meantime, I had been compulsively exercising to keep my weight under control, putting in 6 miles daily on the track and weight training three to four times a week. My weight continued to climb, although more slowly. I was also aware of a brain “fogginess”. It was nothing I could really put my finger on, but I just didn’t feel as sharp as I used to. My energy level was way down. I was having some memory problems. When the economy hit the skids and my company shut down, I took a job at a quarter of my former salary because I just didn’t have the energy, stamina, or brain power to work in a demanding job. I went to several physicians with my complaints, for I was really alarmed. I was told “welcome to middle age”, or variations thereof. Then I started having severe bilateral foot pain. I developed a raging case of plantar fasciitis (and heel spurs) and, even though it was supposed to resolve after @ 12 months, mine was still going strong after four YEARS. By the end of the work day, I could barely walk. We started eating nearly all of our meals out because it was too physically painful for me to stand and cook after a long day on my feet at a low-paying job.
When my husband came home in despair at the thought of another round of calorie restrictions and out of control hunger, I broached the subject of a wheat-free diet. A friend of mine, younger than I am, had recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and, upon testing, was found to have gluten sensitivity. My mother has rheumatoid arthritis, and my family is plagued with autoimmune problems. In my research, I came across information about the Wheat Belly Diet. “We’ll try it for two weeks!” I told my husband. “If we don’t feel better, we’ll do something else.”
The only thing we cut the first week was wheat. We still had potatoes and rice and, occasionally, grits. We limited, but did not cut out, sugar. At the end of the first week, my husband said “This probably sounds weird, but I’m not really coming home so hungry that I would stop at a drive through for a snack before we went out to dinner like I was before!” I had noticed the same thing. After a breakfast of bacon and eggs or an omelet (we have lots of chickens on pasture and unlimited eggs!), I would eat a salad and some cottage cheese for lunch, and pass all those lovely fast food restaurants on the way home without incident. Hunh. My feet felt better, and I quit taking the strong anti-inflammatory medication that I needed to get through the day.
By the middle of the second week, I had so much energy after work, feeding the livestock, and cooking that I worked late into the night cleaning my neglected house. Then, over the weekend, I saw that I had some instant breakfast drinks left, and I had a couple of them after working out in the yard instead of water. I spent Sunday tired and low spirited with my shoulders, elbows, knees, and feet aching. I couldn’t figure out what had happened! Then I read the ingredients of the instant breakfast drink. Wheat starch was down toward the end. It must have been a very small amount, and I couldn’t believe it had that big of an effect on how I felt but it did! Meanwhile, my husband was out happily working away in his workshop after work, spending hours building new workbenches. He also announced that for lunch, he wanted some meat, like a hamburger patty or a piece of grilled chicken, and lots of salad greens sprinkled with a little parmesan cheese with salsa for topping, nothing else. He craved salad! My husband had never even wanted to see salad come into the house before and refused to have it on his plate.
By the end of the third week, we’ve both lost weight effortlessly! Both of us are limiting our carb intake not because we’re on a diet and have to, but because we just don’t have the taste for it any longer. We had our Thanksgiving dinner at work last Thursday. It was quite a spread. I was quite happy with my sliced ham, greens, green beans, and fruit salad (grapes, nuts and citrus fruits sprinkled with coconut). I passed up the stuffing, gravy, and mashed potatoes without regret. Three weeks ago, I would have been all over the dessert tray. I just didn’t have any desire for the sweets. The fruit salad was sweet enough for me.
My husband mentioned to me today “You know, I’m happier now than I’ve been in years. Do you think cutting the wheat out could affect my mood, too?”
Isn’t that great? We’ll have to wait for DeeDee’s update to know whether wheat-freedom will be sufficient for her husband’s knees to improve enough to avoid having them replaced.