Gretchen’s “cheat day”

Gretchen posted this comment about her dramatic turnaround from incapacitating inflammatory joint disease, going from crippled to back on her feet, once she said goodbye to wheat.

I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease early in 2010 after being referred to a specialist for my increasing pain, stiffness and weakness. Initially, it was called Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder/MCTD, which is a rare cluster of autoimmune diseases that can ultimately manifest primarily as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, or Scleroderma.

I was put on a strong med and ordered to have very detailed eye exams every 6 months, as that med might destroy my eyes. I asked the rheumatologist initially if there was anything I could do, if there were any connections – good or bad – between foods and my condition. She told me that there is a lot of info, much of it conflicting, out there but nothing she could really relay that was definitive or universal.

As 2010 went on, my pain and weakness worsened. It was determined that my MCTD had evolved into Rheumatoid Arthritis. My feet had become increasingly deformed. A second med was added in hopes of stemming deformities in my hands. This med was even stronger, and one that is sometimes used to treat breast cancers, so I was to have labs done every 3 months to watch for any damage being done to my liver.

By the end of 2010, I was not doing any better, and I had steadily gained even more weight, exacerbating the pain and weakness. Early 2011, I was barely functioning, had a permanent handicapped placard for the car and had been using a cane for over year. I was sent to a neurologist for extensive testing, and a brain MRI was ordered.

My social life was gone and I can now say openly that I was teetering toward suicidal thoughts. I was exhausted beyond imagination and desperate to have my life back. I could barely lift my feet enough to put my pants on while seated. I had a small step built to have next to the tub so that I could step in for a shower and I could barely stand for the length of time a shower took. I got a walker and shower chair from family. Others did my grocery shopping for me; I was in too much pain and too weak to manage it. I could no longer stand long enough to cook or wash dishes. A third med was added for the RA. I bought a wheelchair.

May 2011, a friend posted on Facebook: “23 lbs lost. [name of diet] Srsly.”

I started reading and couldn’t stop. I began the diet on May 15, 2011 and started losing weight immediately. My energy was starting to improve. For 6 days of 7, it excludes all grains, among other things. On that weekly “cheat day” when anything is allowed, I saw over time that I could isolate which foods seemed to aggravate my pain, stiffness, and weakness. I had identified that wheat was definitely a trigger. About 4 months into that diet, I came across Wheat Belly, and I then knew that I was not some weird unique case, but that there are millions who are affected by wheat, and in many different ways, not just RA. Diabetes, migraines, digestive problems, skin problems, and on and on.

From May 2011 to Dec 2011, my weight has dropped by 40 lbs so far. My pain, strength, energy, mood, skin, hair – all improved. My blood pressure dropped enough to warrant cutting one of my bp meds by half. I’d been on them for 5 years. My bp on 12/19/11: 119 over 66. Nov 2011, my cholesterol stats were stellar: Total – normal is less than 200; mine is 164. HDL (good chol) normal for women is higher than 50; mine is 85. LDL (bad chol) normal is less than 130, but if you have heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease (I do not), your goal is less than 70; mine is 69. Triglycerides – normal is less than 150; mine is 52.

By September 2011, I no longer used the cane. I had used the wheelchair once. I’ve watched jaws literally drop when people who had not seen me for a while see the dramatic improvement in my mobility. I admit I am a fanatic about how foods can be much more powerful than any meds out there. I know that for me, it’s a combination of having LOTS of green veggies, very few processed foods (only once a week, if any) and abstaining from wheat that has given me my life back.

And I’m grateful beyond measure.

Ah, Gretchen, I feel blessed to hear and witness health transformations like yours, all accomplished with a change in diet while freeing you from the bonds of harmful drugs, pain, and deformity.

Listen to the critics, and they claim that such turnarounds in health are due to chance, a psychosomatic effect, or mass hysteria. Reading the stories on these pages, I hope that you, like me, have gotten the impression that stories like Gretchen’s are not the exception; they are the rule. While other stories may not be a dramatic as Gretchen’s, they are no less instructive or poignant.

May your holidays be happily and healthily wheat-free!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Firebird

    A “Cheat Day” for me consists of one of the following: Cashews, pork rinds, cottage cheese, or maybe I’ll eat out , which usually ends up being a chef salad or a bowl of chili. Even then, there is a diner nearby that serves a low carb breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and a small cup of fruit.

  2. Sol y Sombra

    What an amazing story! Gretchen, I am so happy for you! I hope you see even more improvement in the future!

    And God bless you, Dr. Davis, for what you do! Merry Christmas and have a very happy holiday!

    • Sol y Sombra

      By the way, my mother has a long-standing autoimmune condition – psoriatic arthritis – which is quite severe, and she has had it for over 20 years now. Many of her joints are deformed and she is in a lot of pain. Drugs haven’t been able to help her much, she has slowly deteriorated over the years. Now she has been following a primal lifestyle (as recommended by Mark Sisson) which also includes eliminating wheat and other grains, we both have been doing this for nearly 3 months, and my mother has seen some improvement in pain, but she has a long way to go, I am afraid, because she has had the disease for such a long time and it has wrecked her body so much. But I have hope for her and I am praying for her. I wish in time she can feel better.

      • Gretchen Linden

        Sol y Sombra, Thank you for responding to the story; I wish you and your mother only the best, and I am certain that more improvement is coming. Keep doing what you are doing, and it will surely yield many benefits. I constantly spread the word to friends about what the right foods can do for us, and one thing I say is to be patient and to be very attuned to any changes, because “we are rebuilding a body here — and, after all, it takes 9 months to make a brand-new one from scratch!” :)
        I know the hell of psoriatic arthritis. My uncle has it. Your mother, and you, will be in my prayers.
        Feliz Navidad,
        Gretchen

  3. Who can argue with results like this? Seriously, I am so happy and grateful now that there are people like Dr Davis who are outspoken about this insidious slow killer of the human spirit. Congrats Gretchen on discovering the value of nutrition in fixing the body. And can I just say WOW.

  4. AllisonK

    Wow Gretchen! That’s an amazing story. I’m just sorry you had to go through all that pain before finding the answer.

  5. Benboom

    It can be really hard when you are fed propaganda constantly; propaganda which we now know is WRONG. Yesterday I received a flyer in the mail from the local Adventist hospital; they send these things out periodically and they contain “tips” (I use the word advisedly) and advice on how to get healthier, all in the guise of attracting patients. Anyway, I read these lines and underlined them so my wife could see them because we now regularly call out this kind of misinformation:

    “FUEL UP YOUR HEART. A heart-healthy diet includes eating plenty of fruits, veggies and whole grains and cutting back on artery-clogging cholesterol and fat. To help limit unhealthy fat, put away the frying pan. Go easy on salt, which can raise blood pressure.”

    Thanks, Adventist, but by every conceivable measure that you use I am in much better shape now that I don’t eat wheat at all, eat far fewer carbohydrates in general, eat tons of “artery-clogging” fat, and have actually had to increase my consumption of salt because a) my diet doesn’t really have that much in it since I don’t eat processed foods any more and b) your requirements are different when you eat fewer carbs. My blood work and blood pressure results all prove this, too, so I’m not making it up. Then there’s my 31 inch waistline, too…Screw your whole grains and the horse they rode in on! (Apologies to horses, which I actually like, LOL.)

    • The buzz phrases like “artery clogging fats” have served them well, but it’s time to lose them.

      Reminds me of the buzzwords and phrases used by some of my colleauges, like “I can’t be responsible for what happens to you!” when someone refuses a heart procedure. Sad thing is these words often have the intended effect.

      Be strong in your knowledge and understanding!

  6. Antony

    Hi Gretchen, fantastic story. So glad you were able to heal yourself.
    Would you mind sharing what foods you generally eat day to day (I know you mentioned lots of green veggies, could you let us know which?).
    I think that would be very helpful for many of us starting out or convincing others starting on this wheat free lifestyle. Once again thank you and well done for sharing your story.
    Greetings from South Africa.

    • Gretchen Linden

      Wow, Antony, hello all the way to South Africa! My niece in Louisiana will be coming there soon to study and she is so excited!! The whole family is excited for her, too!
      For the first six months of the diet, for 6 days of 7, I ate eggs, fish, shrimp, legumes and lots of veggies. The legumes were any kind of bean or lentil, as long as there were no grains/flours or sugars added. I ate TONS of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, cabbage — these were both raw and cooked. And I ate TONS of brussels sprouts, green beans, collard greans and asparagus – these were cooked. I also ate olives, tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, celery, carrots. Lots of salads. I added olive oil, vinegars, all types of nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts)– preferably raw — and sunflower seeds. I use real butter, not margarines. The fish and shrimp were always unbreaded; I’d either brown the fillets in butter on top of the stove, poach, or broil them. I use a lot of herbs and spices to add interest. I have cottage cheese and moderate amounts of hard cheeses.
      I’m still eating all these things — organic when I can, and either fresh or frozen. I have added poultry and meats back into my diet this past month and am testing these too to see if they hinder my progress either in terms of well-being or weight.
      Except on cheat days, I have no grains, no sugar, no fruit or juices, no potatoes of any kind, and no processed foods. I do not use artificial sweeteners, soda, caffeine, or alcohol at all or on any days. (I do admit to missing some of those! Tee hee!)
      Good luck to you in your efforts; track everything, be patient, and listen to your body.
      Best,
      Gretchen

      • Antony

        Thank you so much for your feedback Gretchen and for being so thorough. Much appreciated. Definitely going to have to make 2012 the year of the “greens” for my family and I.
        I’m sure your niece will enjoy South Africa, we’re a pretty hospitable lot, and may she do well in her studies.
        Merry Christmas to you and your family and may your healing continue to effect good health in your life and may your story continue to inspire all the other “victims” out there.
        Thanks again for your prompt response.
        Best regards
        Antony

        • Antony

          Sorry I meant to ask, what are your breakfasts like, as those have traditionally been our wheaty / grainy kind of meals. I realise various egg meals can be enjoyed, but wouldn’t eggs become a tad boring after a while? Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.
          Thanks again.

          • Mona

            Oh my gosh, there are so many things you can do with eggs.
            Baked, boiled, fried, scrambled, poached, fritatta’s, omelete’s, crepe’s can be made without flour, you can bake them in ham or pepperoni cups, so much you can do. I love deviled eggs a lot. Can eat them almost daily…lol. Add cheese, meats, veggies. Easy to change it all up. Love em.

          • I had pumpkin muffins (from my carrot cake muffins, replacing carrots with pumpkin puree) for breakfast. How about the granola from the recipe way back a few months, or a couple handfuls of raw nuts and cheese? Try having foods you ordinarily regard as lunch or dinner foods, such as leftover chicken, pizza (recipe), or soup.

          • Gretchen Linden

            Antony — as Mona says, there are a lot of variations with eggs. I’m surprised I don’t tire of them, but I haven’t so far. And, there are so many great wheat-free recipes like the muffins Dr Davis mentions. I got used to having “dinner foods” for breakfast and it was easy for me because I’ve never been one to want anything sweet in the morning anyway. So, very often, my breakfast is some type of fish, with some cooked veggies and maybe a third to half cup of some kind of legume. Having a breakfast that is relatively high in protein keeps me satisfied for 6 or more hours until lunch; no desire for snacks! PS: One wonderful food I forgot to mention is avocado. I have those fairly often, either as guacamole or just cut in half and eaten with a spoon and a smidge of salt.

          • Thanks for mentioning avocados, Gretchen. I enjoy them, too, for breakfast, just scooping out of the skins, sliced alongside scrambled eggs or cut-up veggies, or even in smoothies.

      • Gretchen–

        Thank you again for telling us your incredible story. As you can see, people beneft and learn from hearing about experiences like yours.

        Happy holidays!

        • Gretchen Linden

          Dr Davis, thank you for helping me share it! Seeing my story and the responses here are the most wonderful Christmas presents for me. I hope you and your family have a great holiday season, and all the best to you in 2012! Gretchen

          • Antony

            Thanks Gretchen, Mona and William for the great tips. May you all have a super healthy wheat free 2012.

  7. Phillis

    What an absolutely amazing story, Gretchen!!! I’m so grateful that this information is out there for us at this time no matter where it might occur in our lives. I do wish that I could have had this info decades ago before my family and myself were so decimated by the problems that wheat/grains have caused but, as they say, better late than never! The only piece of advice (and it IS worth what was paid for it, hahahaha!) I would offer is that since we all have different genetic makeups that we should expect different healing rates and be kind to ourselves when the outcomes are not as fast as we would like. I’ve been wheat free for almost 2 months now and I still struggle with some healing issues but I didn’t get where I was overnight and I know that the longer I stay without grains/wheat the better off I’ll be in the long run. The good thing is that I’m already seeing major changes for the good with my body but I figure that the rest of it will come along eventually if I can stand the wait, haha! In the meantime, I’ll just keep keeping on.

  8. Emma

    Dear Dr. Davis,

    I was referred to your blog after I watched the FatHead documentary. I immediately purchased your book and read it cover to cover. Because a lot of the points contradicted much of what I’ve been taught my entire life about nutrition, I was still a little skeptical so I gave it a 2 month trial run. Well after having lost 20 lbs, feeling much better, and getting my blood sugar under control – I can tell you that it works! I never was diagnosed with diabetes, but I could tell that having uncontrolled blood sugar and hormone levels was definitely contributing to my previous weight gain. Now I feel satisfied, full, and not “out of control” especially in those situations where plates of cookies are put in front of me. I can easily walk by them now, confident and feeling good. I have the occasional treat, but because I know what foods make me satisfied, I am always able to bounce back.

    Just one question – will the wheat belly nutritional/diet guidelines in your book help me get to a healthy body weight? I’ve lost 20 lbs so far, but need to lose another 20 to be in the normal weight range. Do I need to be even stricter or will I still make progress with the same guidelines?

    I just wanted to thank you for bringing this information, as a cumulation of research and personal experience, into the public sphere. All the best for 2012.

    -Emma

    • That’s wonderful, Emma!

      You are well on your way to achieving the weight you desire. Some people encounter a plateau, which varies depending on numerous factors such as age, hormonal status, cortisol and thyroid status, leptin status, individual carbohydrate sensitivity, etc. Should you encounter a plateau that persists for more than a couple of weeks, it may be helpful to consider one of these confounding factors. I generally have people start by counting “net” carbs and maintain a no more than 12-14 grams per meal maximum.

  9. Joyce

    Dr. Davis, I guess I am thinking the same thing as Emma regarding reaching ideal body weight.

    It is my understanding from Wheat Belly we can eat ad libitum low starch veg, eggs, cheese, meat, fish, poultry, healthy fats and limit non gluten grains, milk, yogurt, fruits and of course avoid sugars and those dreadful high carb/gluten free foods.

    In one of your threads titled “I elminiated wheat…and I didn’t lose weight!”…you mention limiting the above carbs to 12-14 grams per meal. I am assuming the carb number limitations are only for the grains/fruits and not for the ad libitum veg, cheese, eggs, meat, fish and poultry.

    Is this accurate? Starting at the 12-1 grams per meal of said carbs and then lowering them if necessary?

    I ask because I hate to count carbs all day long. That’s one of the reasons I was initially attracted to the South Beach Diet, but I just couldn’t stand the “low fat” recommendations.

    Maybe we’re making this more complicated than it really is, but your input is appreciated!

    • Hi, Joyce–

      Yes, it can help to add up your entire carbohydrate (“net” carbs, i.e., total minus fiber) exposure and limit to that range if you are encountering a weight plateau or resistance in losing weight. Do this for a week or two, and you will more than likely have identified your problem habits. Rarely is it necessary to do this long-term.

  10. Cat

    Hello Dr Davis, hello everyone,
    I’m really new to counting carbs. So, would you please tell me if this is correct? If I am counting carbs and I have a power bar and it says TOTAL CARBS: 25g and then DIETARY FIBRE: 4g do I SUBTRACT the dietary fibre amount from the total amount to get that serving’s carbs? (e.g. in this example I would end up with 19g of carbs? or is that wishful thinking?) Thank you.

      • Boundless, what do you think about Quest bars? What do you think, Dr. Davis? I’m very curious about whether these could be a decent thing to use as a meal replacement or snack once in awhile. I love eggs but sometimes I am just not in the mood for them in the morning, and I’m always in a rush (I get eggs at various restaurants by my office; I only have time to actually prepare them myself on the weekends). I had never heard of Quest bars until recently someone mentioned them on Mark’s Daily Apple.

        Here’s a link to the info:
        http://www.questproteinbar.com/

        • Quest bars are as close as they come to a reasonably benign, low-carbohydrate bar.

          However, beware: horrendous gas. I shared a box with the ladies in my office that the company had sent me to try. Within an hour, we were all sheepishly running to the bathroom. When we saw each other with that undeniable look of urgency, we started to realize what was going on!

          • Ha! That is good to keep in mind. I’ve had a few quest bars so far and haven’t had that issue, luckily, but it makes sense to me. Those fiber one bars always caused me more trouble than they were worth when I ate them in the past. :)

          • Boundless

            I finally located some Quest bars, at a Vitamin Shoppe (not Vitamin Cottage, now Natural Grocers). I wanted to try a few before ordering cartons, which are pricey compared to even the Balance or Zone Perfect bars I used to eat.
            I’ve only had two so far, but they taste fine, are very satisfying, and, interestingly, I had zero gas (so outcomes may vary).
            These are probably the only bars on the market at present that are nutritionally sound – and I check the bar aisle every time I’m in a “health” food store.

          • Boundless

            More on Quest Bars: They are available on Amazon, although AMZN itself rarely has all the flavors, and some of the enrolled resellers are not terribly competent shippers. Quest apparent does not shrink-wrap the 12-count cartons, so they will arrive unwrapped, often spilled, or with various styles of reseller wrapping. Count your bars.

            The earlier discussions notwithstanding, these bars are too low in fat. So if you can, eat some fat with them, perhaps some cheese. Of course, if you have cheese handy, do you really need these bars?

            And someday we’ll need to learn if there is such a thing as too much protein.

          • Dr. Davis

            Thanks for the feedback, Boundless. Insightful, as always!

            I think we can do better than Quest bars. While they are probably the best available for the present, with least junk carb exposure of any convenient bar, I have whipped many healthier alternatives in my own kitchen in just a few minutes. More on that to come!

          • Boundless

            > I think we can do better than Quest bars.

            There are actually two brands of claimed ketogenic bars on the market. Neither will publish what’s in them, and one is supposedly only sold to health care professionals.

            So I declare the market for retail KBs, with a reasonable shelf life, to be wide open, and yours for the taking.

  11. lotsacoffee

    Dr. Davis,
    I would think if one follows your food guidelines, it will be unnecessary to count carb grams.

    Eating low starch veg, nuts, healthy fats, meat, fish, fowl, cheeses, and limiting milk, grains and fruits to 2 servings OR much less if we are stalled, should take care of it. All this counting of carb grams is a real turn off for me. I actually refuse to count them, except for monitoring the milk, yogurt, fruit and non gluten grains. Is this a good way of going about the Wheat Belly program? A lifetime of counting calories, then fat grams, then carb grams then Weight Watchers points, then Zone protein to carb to fat ratios has totally turned me off to counting numbers all day long. That’s no way to live. I believe there is a better way. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed reading y our book so much – the healthy emphasis on lower carb, gluten free foods without running the numbers game.

    Can you please clarify your stance on counting carb grams? Thank you so much.

  12. cat

    Thanks, Dr Davis, re the carb counting. Glad it’s that simple.

    I’ve been telling everyone about my experiences and your book. You know the saying “they have ears, but do not hear”? Holy smoke!

    Boundless, the protein bar I was using as an example about net carbs is the Dr Mercola coconut-chocolate one (Cocoa Cassava).

    • Boundless

      cat > I’ve been telling everyone about my experiences and your book.
      > You know the saying “they have ears, but do not hear”? Holy smoke!
      See:
      http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2011/12/quit-your-whining/#comment-21305

      > … the protein bar I was using as an example about net carbs is
      > the Dr Mercola coconut-chocolate one (Cocoa Cassava).

      Ah, those aren’t “Power Bars(R)”.
      It’s hard to tell just what the Mercola bars are, due to all the hand-waving, and the apparent unwillingness to put on the website the simple Nutrition Facts that have to be on the packaging (I did have the Flash Player plug-in shut off while surfing there, so they might have hidden the NF in those).

      • Cat

        Boundless, I think it should be on the site. Could be flash player issue or ad block (which won’t allow pop-ups, which is where that sort of label info often goes). Or you can switch browsers. I have more luck with Internet Explorer on Mercola. I even told them. They admitted that they have a lot of bugs to get out of their website.

      • Cat

        Boundless,
        And speaking of resistance — I only offer the gentle idea of cutting wheat to the people who are complaining of various health issues (weight, high BP, cataracts, arthritis, rosacea, acne). I don’t push it.

        Funny how so many people have the illogical, SIMILAR responses: 1) “Isn’t there a pill?” or 2) “Then why do THEY sell bread? cookies? …”

        There’s only so much breath we have! :-)

    • Gretchen Linden

      Thank you, Jennifer. The most rewarding thing for me is knowing that what I’ve experienced and am now relaying to as many people as possible might actually help others too!! I would be overjoyed to know that someone who is now in the kind of debilitating pain that I was in might see some of these stories and learn how they too can ease the pain and improve their whole life. Chronic pain and diseases like RA affect an entire family. My daughter watched me going downhill and struggling so much for all that time and I know it scared her more than I can probably imagine. I’m doing everything I can to spread the word wherever I can (PS: Anyone, please “friend” me on Facebook if you like. I’m Gretchen Linden, Missouri USA), so knowing that you also want to share the info with others really makes me happy, Jennifer. Happy 2012!!!!

  13. Tina

    Gretchen!!!
    I am SOOOO happy to have run across this!
    I have been in a battle for a few years now and I am getting progressively worse.. I’ve heard everything from “you’re getting old, Tina. It happens.” to just a few weeks ago, “You have Rheumatoid Arthritis.” and now I have a purse full of drugs and a body full of pain. Joints that swell, muscles that feel like I was beaten with a ball bat, toes that turn blue, constant sore throat and swollen glands, weight gain like crazy mad, bad skin, constant random muscle spasms.. I am a mess! I am only 42.
    A friend had asked about my diet .. I used to go to a personal trainer and she said high fiber/whole grain foods are best” so I eat whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, whole grain cereal.. My girlfriend told me how bad wheat really is for a person.. so I google and now I learn that these whole grains are killing me! I wanted to kill me. My body hurts so bad I have to ask my children to help me get out of bed.. (Im a single mom) and I literally wanted to die because the pain of these ‘flares’ was too much to take and I hated having to rely on my 16 and 21 year old kids to take care of me. I hated seeing my daughter cry because I hurt so bad.

    I started yesterday wheat free and I have been crossing my fingers hoping this helps and today I have hope.. I can also say that today my throat isn’t as sore as it had been so yay! One thing at a time!
    I’m trying to learn as much as I can and self educate because doctors won’t do it.. why should they? They’ve got a pill for everything!

    Thanks so much!
    Tina

    Thanks SO much Gretchen!

    • Dr. Davis

      Please be sure to update us with your progress, Tina!

      Others learn from your story, so we do want to hear what develops, good or bad.

  14. Tina

    Hi Dr. Davis!

    Its been 1 week of wheat free eating and no swollen glands! The pain is low enough now that I am not taking anything! No Celebrex, no Flexeril, not even an Aleve! I weened myself off the steroids.. I kinda began doing that before I went wheat free.. the side effects are awful..

    The swelling in my hands, elbows, knees and ankles have gone down considerably.. I still have some but nothing like it was! I don’t feel fatigued or exhausted nearly as much.. I actually have energy to do things again.
    I’m really excited and hopeful that I can live a normal pain free life again. (Without the drugs!) This is just one week.. can’t wait to see what happens in a month!

    Ill let you know….

    • Dr. Davis

      Please do, Tina!

      I’ve not come across the swollen glands effect with wheat elimination before. There are new lessons to learn every day. My hope is that your improvement continues until you are feeling spectacular. It will mean that you have found your answer!

  15. Gretchen Linden

    Tina, I’m so glad you came across my story and I’m sure you’ve read so many others’ here as well. These will encourage you to experiment, and your results will encourage you to keep it up! Every time someone says to me “Wow; you’re doing great! Keep it up!”, I respond with “I have no choice! Are you kidding?! I LOVE being out of that pain and being able to walk again!”
    My recovery was not immediate, nor was it “overnight”, but it was definitely from changing what I ate.
    I used to make only ONE trip a day down/back up the stairs to my condo (I live on the second floor). I planned meticulously so that I didn’t forget anything I’d need. ONE set of stairs a day was my “Everest”.
    Yesterday, I don’t know how many stairs I went up and down, in all the stuff I was doing at various places. THIS IS MIRACULOUS TO ME!
    I wish you similar miracles. Our bodies are amazing healing machines if we get out of their way, and if we supply them with the fuel they need, to do their magic.
    Write to me if you like; I’d love hearing how you’re doing and really had only stumbled upon your post here by chance. So glad I did! It’s gretchenlin@aol.com
    Take care, Tina
    Gretchen

  16. Susanne Anderson

    Gretchen, I shared your story with my Facebook friends. My family has a lot of issues with pain, migraines and some depression. My Mom has rheumatoid arthitis. I hope they will listen and do this. I know I feel much better and I have been doing WB for less than a month. It’s amazing how God guides your steps to where you should be.
    Thank you,
    Susanne

  17. Kathie Kase, RN

    I have been reading Wheat Belly, which is amazing, and just looked at this blog. At the same time I am worried about my mother-in-law, who has pulmonary fibrosis (diagnosed within the past 2 years), among other things. I have also observed that while I never see her eating much, she has steadily gained weight over the years (which I have attributed to sedentary lifestyle). I remember opening her pantry one day and being amazed at the overabundance of carb products (specifically wheat). I wonder if it’s a stretch to blame pulmonary fibrosis on wheat. She is a former smoker (quit in 2000), but I don’t think she has had chemical exposure that would point to a possible cause. Gretchen’s story mentions “autoimmune diseases that can ultimately manifest primarily as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, or Scleroderma.” Look at this list copied from Mayo Clinic’s PF information: “Medical conditions
    Lung damage can also result from:

    Tuberculosis
    Pneumonia
    Systemic lupus erythematosus
    Rheumatoid arthritis
    Sarcoidosis
    Scleroderma”
    I may be jumping to conclusions, but after reading Wheat Belly, I feel like it’s possible because autoimmune/inflammatory responses.

  18. Love my veggies!

    I wanted to respond to Kathie Kase, RN about her mother-in-law’s pulmonary fibrosis. The autoimmune disease that pulmonary fibrosis is most strongly associated with is scleroderma. It can also occur in people with lupus, RA, and some of the other connective tissue diseases, but it is a relatively rare complication in these diseases. In systemic scleroderma, it is an expected and close to universal complication. If your mother-in-law hasn’t been tested for scleroderma or other autoimmune diseases, then I would strongly encourage to visit a rheumatologist for a physical exam and blood work. There are several ways to figure out whether the fibrosis is due to scleroderma or to another cause. Not all pulmonary fibrosis is part of an autoimmune process and the different types have different prognoses and treatments.

    Will eliminating wheat improve her prognosis or symptoms? I think this is an interesting question. Just in my opinion, it is definitely worth trying. Obviously Dr. Davis believes that everyone should eliminate wheat and I think I’m being won over by his arguments. In the case of someone with a serious health challenge (and pulmonary fibrosis is clearly extremely serious) I think I’d personally try nearly anything that had a chance of helping me as long it was not dangerous or terribly expensive. Cleaning up your diet and removing grains is certainly not dangerous, and doesn’t need to be expensive. Because inflammation precedes fibrosis, it makes sense to do everything you can to reduce your body’s inflammatory response. Getting rid of pro-inflammatory foods and avoiding foods to which one is allergic or intolerant is a good place to start.

    I say this all as a person with systemic scleroderma. I don’t (yet) have pulmonary fibrosis, but do have a variety of other manifestations of the disease such as skin changes, Raynaud’s, muscle/joint pain, fatigue, neuropathy, GERD, flu-like feelings, gastrointestinal problems, and so on. I also have PCOS and pre-diabetes despite being young and thin (5’6″, 118 pounds, 30 years old). I don’t know whether what I eat caused my disease, but I do believe that it contributed (along with genetic factors, environmental exposures, etc.) This is a nasty disease with a poor prognosis and I realized that I need whatever I can to take control of my health. I am certainly not against conventional medicine – if a drug will help to control the disease or a bothersome symptom and doesn’t have intolerable side effects, I will try it. BUT diet is fundamental to our health. It FLOORS me that the doctors I’ve talked to (rheumatologist, gastroenterologist, neurologist) all say that diet has nothing to do with autoimmune disease unless you have celiac disease. I had the blood tests for celiac run and they were negative so I was told there was no reason to avoid gluten and just “eat healthy like everyone else should”. Eating healthy apparently includes unlimited quantities of those ubiquitous “healthy whole grains”.

    I have recently completely overhauled my diet and my husband and 3 young children are following suit. I got rid of wheat and nearly all other grains (though I’ve been flirting a bit with brown rice – I think I’m going to stop that!), dairy products, and sugar. I realize that this is a bit different than what Dr. Davis recommends in that I’ve totally removed dairy, but I want to at least try this for a few months and then see if I can reintroduce some dairy without a negative reaction. I eat lots of veggies (raw and cooked) including plenty of dark green leafys and some higher carb choices like sweet potatoes, some fruit, wild fish and seafood, grass-fed and/or organic meat (when I can afford it!), nuts and seeds, some coconut oil, the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup in baking… It’s too early to say whether it is making a difference in my disease, but overall we just feel better. I am sleeping better, my mood is more stable, I have more energy, and I am enjoying my food. My husband, who was not overweight, has lost 8 pounds and ALL of it seems to have come from around his midsection! He no longer has his “love handles” or any extra flab around his stomach. Despite being thin, this fat had followed him around for years and no amount of abdominal exercises at the gym would budge it.

    I am hopeful that these changes will give me the best chance possible in fighting scleroderma. However, I will continue to take any medications that are indicated, and tackle this challenge from all fronts.

    • Dr. Davis

      Exceptionally well said!

      Please update us with your experience, as these sorts of associations with relatively obscure conditions teach us all sorts of new lessons.

      I’m crossing my fingers for you!

  19. Love my veggies!

    Thank you!

    I belong to an online community of people with scleroderma and I wanted to mention that the topic of dietary interventions comes up frequently. Nearly every newly diagnosed person wants to know whether they should cut gluten out of their diet. If they are lucky, their doctor will test them for the celiac genes/antibodies (because people with a connective tissue disease are much more likely to also have other autoimmune diseases like celiac than the general population). In many cases though, the rheumatologist does not feel that this testing is warranted and simply tells the patient that diet has nothing to do with scleroderma, either as cause or treatment.

    Many people on this support board have shared their experiences of cutting out either wheat, all gluten, or sometimes even all grains. Many choose to follow the so-called anti-inflammatory diet which removes gluten, dairy, and sugar. In some it makes no difference at all in their symptoms, but it seems to prove helpful in the majority of people who are able to adhere to their new diet strictly for a period of time. Of course, since most of these people were never tested for celiac disease it is impossible to know WHY their symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet. Is it because they have undiagnosed celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity? Is it because grains are inherently inflammatory? Do improvements result from removing the wheat, the gluten, the grains, the dairy, or the sugar? Is it because they are de facto prevented from eating processed foods and are now better nourished because they are eating a lot more fruits and veggies, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds? Is it a placebo effect (because these people are accepting an increasing amount of responsibility for their own health and feel more positive and more in control)?

    The improvements that people usually report are a reduction in joint and muscle pain, reduction in bloating and diarrhea, increased energy, and better sleep. I want to stress that these dietary changes are not seen by anyone with scleroderma as a cure or even a treatment for the disease, but that they are extremely helpful in controlling (or even eradicating) certain symptoms. Because there is a large area of overlap between the symptoms of celiac and scleroderma (from rashes and joint pain to diarrhea and bloating, neuropathy, malabsorption, and weight loss) it is very hard to assess what is causing what.

  20. MelB

    Dear Dr. Davis,

    I’m a youthful 63 yr. old woman, with various chronic health issues, including GERD and IBS. Even my gastroenterologist said I had an intestinal intolerance to wheat but never tested positive for celiac in two or more endoscopies. I wish I had taken his advice earlier. I read your book a couple of weeks ago, but even before that, I knew I had to give up gluten. I had managed to do it for almost a couple of months a no. yrs. ago and felt great; then slipped back into consuming some gluten and too much of other grains. I need to lose about 250-30 lb.

    After a week and a half of no gluten and reduced grains, I’m feeling better overall, sleeping better, and having less issue with constipation and hypoglycemic attacks in the morning – which I had on occasion a few hours from eating a carb-rich breakfast (I am not diabetic). I have lost about 3 lb.

    One concern is handling temptation outside my house. I know I will cheat occasionally on a very small scale (for example – tonight at a party!), but I am confident that I can get back on track quickly. I found dropping the wheat easy – I went cold turkey and had no withdrawal symptoms.

    Another concern is how to handle another routine endoscopy I’m supposed to have next year for GERD. My gastroenterologist always checks for celiac as part of that. I know you have to eat quite a bit of gluten to get a correct reaction to the small intestinal biopsy. I don’t want to do that. I guess I need to discuss this issue with him.

    Thanks for an excellent, well written, inspiring book!

    Mel

  21. Alison

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    My father, looking to lose weight, has been reading your book and I’ve become interested myself after reading about the effects of wheat on joint pain. As a teenager with laxity of ligaments, I have been in constant pain for the past 7 years and it just never ends–the neck cracking, the tight and sore muscles, the sprained ankles, etc. Have you heard of anyone who’s been successful with this condition on your diet? I’m also looking to shed a few pounds although I’m pretty slim–are there mostly only results for those leaning towards the overweight side?

  22. Hi, Dr Davis!
    I’ve recently been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, without the Psoriasis presenting on the skin, and have begun methotrexate and cortisone. I cant really stand either and am horrified by the toxicity of the medication. I am also a Type 1 Diabetic and loathe to put stress on organs I’ve managed to keep in good condition for the past three decades. I’m wondering if this diet could help? I’m quite prepared to do anything to alleiveate this latest disease, without resorting to toxic drugs. Any feedback from anyone else would be appreciated too. Cheers from Australia, Karen.

  23. This is an old thread but when I saw “Rheumatoid Arthritis” in the links I had to read it. Two years ago I was diagnosed with RA (an aggressive form according to my rheumatologist) after having a handful of years of horrendous pain (flares, no doubt) and swelling. Last year a friend of mine told me about Wheat Belly but I wasn’t quite ready to listen for many reasons. Fast foreward to Jan. or Feb. of this year and the Wheat Belly thing came up again through other sources so I decided to “try” this thing. I began in mid-Feb and have to say that I’m impressed and wished I’d have paid attention the 1st time. So far—I’ve lost around 25 lbs., my A1c went from 6.8 to 6.0—my other labs showed good numbers as well. As for my pain issues…I might be seeing some improvement there. I’ve had a couple of “slight” flares in my hands but nothing like before my diagnosis. Along with the RA, I also have secondary fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes and hypo-thyroidism. I’ve had trouble (in the past) with losing weight. I’ve tried about every “diet” out there…Sugar Busters, Suzanne Somers, South Beach, Weight Watchers and more. Now, I’m trying to pay attention to see how my body responds to the W.B. plan. I am seeing some positive things in these few short months.

    Yesterday I went to a “celiac support group” in my community just to see what information is “out there”. I was amazed that in the conversations I’d had with a handful of folks, none of them had heard of Wheat Belly. There was a table full of empty product containers that folks had brought to share. I wanted to scream….”NO!!!!” Don’t you all know that prepared foods like that aren’t good for you?” I did not say a whole lot being new to the group. However, the originator e-mailed me last evening and wanted my “story”…so I gave it to her. Still haven’t heard back a response! She has severe celiac, said she had heard of W.B. so guess she wanted to hear more. I did make one person pay attention apparently—someone who’d sat at my table e-mailed me to say “I ordered the book!”!!! I also have shared W.B. on one of my RA support group/threads on Facebook—some of the women there are paying attention as well. One person just shared her story on it—thanking me! I need to say the thank-you goes to Dr. Davis!!! I’m so thrilled to have this information now and know that it works. I will keep you all updated on my progress in the months to come!!!

    • > Along with the RA, I also have secondary fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism.

      All but the hypothyroidism could easily respond to a low-carb grain-free diet.

      How is the hypothyroidism being treated? The incompetence of consensus medicine, alas, is not not limited to appalling ignorance about diet.

      They also routinely misdiagnose thyroid: measuring only pituitary response (TSH) and the relatively useless total T4. And they mis-treat thyroid: prescribing only T4, and not T3 or dessicated thyroid. See:
      http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2011/10/thyroid-tune-up-checklist/
      … and the book “Stop the Thyroid Madness” (Bowthorpe).

  24. S.J. Hoy

    I have read Wheat Belly and am beginning to use the cookbook. I’m surprised that Hemp Hearts are never mentioned.
    Via email, Rick Gallop, of the Glycemic Diet protocol, told me that hemp hearts fit in perfectly with that regime.
    We enjoy them everyday for their nutritional value despite their relatively high calories. They are more nutritious than flax seeds, I believe, so why are they not included in any of your recipes??
    Seriously curious,
    Sheila

    • This has come up several times, and in the first instance I could find, Dr. D. said:
      “Sure, enjoy your hemp …”

      It looks like an almost ideal food, with the only risk being residual low levels of THC, which have no stimulant effect, but can trigger a false positive in primitive drug tests. This makes it a concern for people subject to random at-work test, or who are otherwise “usual suspects”.

      It’s also not legally grown in the US due to the legal insanity that lumps it with cannabis. It would make a wonderful replacement crops for a lot of the junk grains and oil seeds now grown here.