Weight Watchers, Optifast, gastric bypass . . . and finally address the cause

Linda tells her story of having struggled with being overweight and the incredible contortions she went through to “fix” it, all temporary fixes until she got to the source of the problem: wheat.

I would like to share my story with you. I am a 61 year old woman who has spent most of her life chasing after the elusive American dream of a thin healthy body. I joined Weight Watchers at age 12, when it was brand new. I have tried it again and again with limited success. Once I got to within 5 pounds of my goal- for about 5 minutes-but always regained the lost weight plus 10 pounds.

I payed big bucks that I could not afford for the Optifast program. I tried TOPS, the diabetic exchange diet, Atkins, yada yada yada. 5 years ago I had my body permanently altered- I had gastric bypass surgery. I lost 88 pounds, but have steadily regained about 30 of those pounds back. I have no doubt that I was working my way back up to my top weight.

Last November I was talking with a co-worker, and she mentioned that wheat was an appetite stimulant. It was like a lightning bolt going off in my head, why hadn’t I heard of this before? She told me a little about Wheat Belly and her wheat free journey. When I got home, I downloaded the book onto Kindle and read it straight through. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Anyway, on December 1, 2011, I began my wheat free journey and have had remarkable things happen. In 6 weeks I have lost 10 pounds, lost 4 inches in my waist, my cholesterol has dropped from 206 (stable on statins) to 125, my LDL decreased and my HDL increased, I stopped my twice a day GERD medicine, I was able to drop one blood pressure medication (HCTZ) and decrease the dose in the second (Benicar). And the very best thing of all is that I no longer have food cravings, I no longer binge! What a victory!

Today I was talking with my Wheat Belly buddy, and I shared with her that I was discouraged about weight loss being so slow. (I am eating very low carb and am on thyroid medication). She shared with me the changes she has noticed in my face and my body and my energy level. She encouraged me to look at how my clothes fit instead of a number on a scale as an indication of my body changing. The important thing is to lose fat, and weight is not always the best way of evaluating that. I would encourage anyone who is discouraged about weight loss to take measurements and watch those change, and not be so obsessed with numbers on a scale.
Thank you, Dr. Davis, for a miracle.

Isn’t that wonderful? No cravings, no binging, and on her way to no cholesterol drug and no blood pressure medications. All those programs can work, until you add back the thing that caused the problem in the first place. Adding back wheat can even boobytrap the effects of gastric bypass!

By the way, Linda: Be absolutely sure to have someone measure your free T3. I’ll bet you are taking a T4-only thyroid preparation like levothyroxine or Synthroid. People with your history typically have impaired conversion of the T4 thyroid hormone to the active T3 and can experience a weight plateau from it. It means having a free T3 measured, then considering adding T3 in some form (e.g., Armour or Naturethroid that contains both T4 and T3; or add liothyronine, which is just T3). Don’t bother with an endocrinologist, unless you want disparaging and insulting comments; endocrinologist are the most worthless breed of medical specialist I’ve ever encountered. Find a functional medicine doctor or naturopath who is willing to listen.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Deniseregina

    WOW! Sounds a lot like me! 62, gastric bypass 6 years ago, lost 120# and have regained 30#. Tried wheat free for 10 days and was disappointed that I didn’t lose any weight, although I did feel my “muffin top” was smaller. I am now re-motivated! Also, I have arthritis at the sacro-iliac joints (Arthritis all over, actually). I did notice decreased pain and tenderness in that area after the time wheat free, Wasn’t really expecting it, so I don’t think it was placebo effect. Another reason to climb back on the wagon!

  2. Linda Harris

    Is there any T3/T4 thryroid supplement that can be purchased without a prescription? I have been grain-free for the past 2 years after joining Let’s Do Lunch. Lost 50 lbs the first year, but need to loose 50 more and have been stalled for the past year. I have suspected for years I have had a low thyroid but of course the bllod tests (T3, T4, TSH) werre normal. Before starting Let’s Do Lunch, I took some Bovine Thyroid but did not notice any difference so quit. I am happy about discarding 50lbs and feel great at age 60 but would really like to continue loosing. Unfortunately my cholesterol is going up….from 210 to 240, while hubby’s cholesterol is below 150 and he “cheats” more than I do. I am sure my cholesterol issues are hereditary on my father’s side, so I was considering Krill Oil. I refuse to do the pharma medications. Don’t want to deal with the side effects. Any assistance will be appreciated. I need to boost my thyroid but have not seen anyone who takes thyroid to be any better off.

    • Lissa

      Linda …. start here: http://bit.ly/ylBhvF and read, read, read! There is also Facebook group where you can talk to others with hypothyroid here: http://on.fb.me/xee1ki

      The thyroid blood tests can be “normal”, that is, within normal ranges set by lab, but you can still be hypothyroid. The key is having optimal levels, which would be Free T3 at the top or just above the range, Free T4 around 3/4 of the range, and TSH at the very bottom or below range. You also need to have good iron and adrenal function. There is lots more about all this, and more at the links above.

      Specifically to answer your questions, yes there are forms of natural thyroid you can get without prescription. The effectiveness is iffy though. It’s best to find a thyroid savvy doctor or caregiver to help you through this though. As Dr Davis said, avoid endocrinologists. There are a tiny number that are good, but they are scarcer than hens teeth. Look for a naturopath, functional medicine doc or one that is specializing in natural or bioidentical hormone therapy. They will likely be knowledgeable about natural thyroid. (You want to avoid Synthroid and the like, very few people have good results from it).

      Your high cholesterol is likely due to the thyroid dysfunction. Here’s a list of hypothyroid symptoms, one of which is high cholesterol: http://bit.ly/z0h8oM Krill Oil will help – we all need it. I like MegaRed, by the way.

      While the typical pharma response to all ills is out of line, with knowledge and careful application, some medications can be beneficial. I have the T4 to T3 conversion issue Dr Davis mentions above, so I am taking a T3 only medication, Cytomel. And even the natural thyroid products are by prescription – Armour, NP Thyroid, Naturethroid, etc. (I recommend NP Thyroid, Armour used to be the gold standard of natural products, but the formulation of the fillers changed and people are not as happy with it anymore).

      I highly recommend interacting with the folks at Stop the Thyroid Madness (and Dr Davis will concur with that). They will be able to help you find your way to healing and good health.

      • Yes, Janie Bowthorpe’s Stop the Thyroid Madness is an excellent resource for thyroid information. She has done a wonderful job of providing information that actually works.

  3. LIZ

    Linda thanks for sharing your story. Your coworker was a gift from God. She is right – wheat is an appetite stimulant and will physically and emotionally mess you up. I have been wheat free since November. I have more energy and am not hungry all the time. I am currently cutting back on my anti-depression meds (celexar) and will soon be med free. I went on the meds in May of 2011 and gained 10 pounds. I feel confident that continuing to be wheat free and following Dr. Davis advise, I’ll lose the weight and more.
    Perserve and never give in to wheat again!

  4. Linda Harris

    When I started Let’s Do Lunch (a grain-free, non-processed way of eating), I did not loose anything for 5 months! Then it seemed to fall off all of a sudden. The places I reshaped was different from any other diet plan I had tried before. Hubby and I are also pain-free and it was not advertised as an outcome from the plan. After being grain-free for a year, I realized I had not purchased or taken any Motrin in about a year and I was buying 1000 OTC tablets every 4 months or so before going grain free. Hubby is off his GERD meds and off his BP meds also. It works great and is well worth it. Hang in there You will love the results.

  5. Lyn from Georgia

    I agree with Deniseregina. I went wheat-free on December 19th and haven’t lost that much weight, which is a little discouraging. But I have focused on the positives and continued. I cannot believe that the idea of a huge cupcake or a slice of red velvet cake just does nothing for me. It’s not hard to turn these things down, when prior, I could have eaten a dozen cupcakes or half a cake!

    It’s good to know that the process can seem slow!


    • Janet

      @Denisregina & Lyn
      I started Wheat free after thanksgiving 2011. I am a 63 year old granny of reasonably good health. I felt so much better, I kept on but since I don’t weigh myself, just listen to my body and notice my clothing looser, and other cues, I didn’t see much for that whole month of December, other than my stomach felt flatter (bloat gone?), my joints didn’t hurt, my GERD was gone, my mood was brighter my feet didn’t hurt nor my hands. Weight? Nah, not much I thought BUT I didn’t care as other even more uncomfortable crap was better or gone. Then, about 2 weeks into January, all of a sudden it seemed, something happened and I now have a waist again and I don’t jiggle with belly fat when I run!!! down the stairs. I had to go out and get new jeans from the local resale shop this week (I am a recycler and reuser) and get jeans 1 and 2 sizes smaller and a bag of smaller sweaters!. It seems my body is rearranging itself, as diets in the past didn’t seem to budge the middle flab much.
      So hang in there–if you are replacing flab with muscle, muscle weighs more but flab takes up more room. DO NOT weigh yourself every day. Just sets you up for disappointment, because if you are living this miracle, the changes are happening and your body will respond in it’s good time, without nagging it from the brain!

      Take care all and you too, Dr. Davis. Got your book last week for my own copy and my library is circulating a copy too.

      • Janet

        I work at my local library, so when it comes back from who has the book now, and if there is a check-out gap, I can put it on display in the New Books section. I have that POWER! Ha.

  6. Jonnelle

    Your statement about endocrinologists are so true! My primary care physician sent me to one several years ago after he felt a lump on my thyroid. Then late in 2010, I went for my annual physical and my thyroid levels were low. The endocrinologist diagnosed me with Graves Disease and told me I needed to have some nuclear pill. “It will kill your thyroid and we tell you to be a hermit for a few days but you will be fine.”

    Everything in my body screamed “NO!” I looked at him and said “the nuclear option can’t be my only option.” He said “There is surgery.” I told them that I was going to switch to a different endocrinologist at the university hospital where I work to save money on the tests they wanted me to have.

    I called up a lady from church who is a naturopath and she put me on a wheat/dairy free diet with lots of produce and grass-fed meats.

    6 weeks later when I visited the new endocrinologist, my numbers were normal. No medication. No surgery. No nuclear option. After waffling back and forth for most of 2011, I’ve made 2012 my grain-free year. I just don’t need it. I feel better when I don’t eat wheat.

    I’m glad to hear that others aren’t seeing a sudden drop in weight either. My weight has been flat since I started in January but the swelling in my legs has gone down and I feel so much more nourished. It’s like every cell in my body says “Finally – you are giving us what we need!”

    • Sharon

      I went to an endocrinologist like that. I sat in the office and looked at the patients. They were all over 300 lb. I did not want to go there. I had the Suzanne Summers book Breakthrough and there was a doctor in the book near me so I went to the Hotze clinic.. It saved my life. I have lost 40lb in one year. I am stalled right now since I have been unable to exercise due to a wreck but I am slowly getting back into the routine. I enjoy hearing all these success stories. I just took my children off of gluten. With one it has made a tremondous difference.

    • Excellent, Jonnelle!

      Yes, the majority of endocrinologists are an embarrassment. Thankfully, you found your answer without their version of health tripe.

  7. LIZ

    Janet thank you. Your posting is keeping me hopeful. After getting weighted at the doctor’s office this week I was very discouraged. But, I know it’s because of the anti depression meds. I’ve never taken any type of meds before but because of a catastropic event that happened to my daughter last year it was very necessary. As I posted earlier, I’m an now weaning myself off of them with the help of my doctor and counselor. I am a 54 year old women and figured it would take me some time before I saw a shift in weight anyways.

    Has anyone else out there been successful with losing the weight after getting off anti depression meds and following the wheat belly way of life? How long did it take you?

    • Ann

      Liz – I started in October wheat free, and two weeks later cut most carbs and all grains. For whatever reason, this has been easy for me, and I’ve scarcely looked back.

      I have had exactly 15.5 lbs loss over three and a half months. I’m told this isn’t a terribly slow rate of loss, but it seems somewhat brutal considering how little I eat, and how many changes I’ve made. I don’t think like this often, because over all I’m feeling WONDERFUL!!

      When tax return comes I fully intend to visit a naturopath that treats with dessicated thyroid, as it won’t be covered by insurance. I refuse to even consider synthetics. I’m hoping this will kick my weight loss into gear, because I truly feel that I am doing everything right, and if my body is working correctly I will lose weight.

      I will say, however, that I am still losing weight although it is slow. Today I got on the scale and realized that I have lost another 1.5 lbs after being stagnant in my weight loss for about a month. I have a feeling that even when my body is doing what it’s supposed to, I’ll still be one of those that “plateaus” as part of my process. I keep reminding myself to be patient, I’ve really only been doing this a few months, and weight is NOT easy to lose.

      • LIZ

        Ann – It’s such a good feeling when people respond to your posts. Thank you. I’m having my thyroid tested. I brought the suggested thyroid tests Dr. Davis wrote about to my doctor . She was reluctant to schedule the tests saying she didn’t think they were necessary and that insurance may not cover it. I said that if that’s the case, I’ll be looking for the bill in the mail.

        I heard of a nutritionist in my area who is following the Wheat Belly lifestyle and will give her a call. I going to ask her about a naturopath too.

        Staying hopeful. Only good things can come from this!


      • Tori Spinoso

        You mentioned that it’s frustrating considering how little you eat. Is it possible that you aren’t eating enough?

  8. Uncle Roscoe

    Gastric bypass surgery cures type 2 diabetes ……at least for several weeks. The result is so obvious that surgeons use it to sell surgery to prospective type 2 surgery candidates. The question is, Why?

    Bypass surgery involves replacing the upper few inches of the small intestine, where the stomach empties into the intestine. Replacing whatever damage has occurred in this region causes cells all over the body to stop being insulin resistant. This is EXTREMELY unusual.

    A big clue lies in the fact that bypass surgery invariably stops curing type 2 diabetes. After some number of weeks the newly resectioned headwaters of the duodenum start operating in the same way as the replaced section.

    What’s needed instead of bypass? Wheat and sugar elimination.


  9. Linda Olson

    Thank you so much for all your positive comments, and thank you Dr. Davis for your input. I gave my doctor a copy of Wheat Belly last week and he was VERY interested. I will ask him to do the free T3. I think I’l also copy your previous post about thyroid to give to him.

  10. Loretta

    Dr. Davis, I am reading your book. I’m learning a lot. I’ve just recently learned the term “Functional Medicine”. Are you aware of a good doctor in the State of Delaware that would fall under that category? I love reading the stories. I have had a number of health challenges over the years and would like 2012 to be a year of healing for me. I think diet may help me, it’s just getting started. Thanks, Loretta

  11. Jenny

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I had posted the question before and if you have a chance, could you give your thoughts on it? It’s just about cream cheese. I would really like to eat it and saw it can be used and still be wheat-free. Was wondering if it matters what kind of cream cheese…? Can it just be the regular full-fat Philadelphia kind?


    • Uncle Roscoe

      I’m gluten intolerant. I used to eat cream cheese, but I identified it as a source of my symptoms. I tried other brands, with the same result. I started reading labels. All the commercial cream cheese I’ve encountered contains guar gum and MSG.

      Added with other food experiments, this experience taught me that I’m very sensitive to guar gum and to MSG. I think most people are sensitive to MSG. I think most people who are sensitive to wheat show some sensitivity to guar.

      But don’t believe me. Test it for yourself.

    • Because I don’t believe that fat consumption matters, i.e., don’t limit fat, just eat it–go ahead and enjoy your cream cheese.

      Preferably, however, from a trusted source: organic, no BGH.

  12. Jenny

    Thank you so much for your replies. Really appreciate it. A whole new world has been opened for me. I am hoping so badly that not eating wheat will give me ENERGY back. I have spent years and years feeling like a zombie, always needing a nap during the day – especially not long after eating. I just have an over-whelming need to ‘rest my head’ and sleep.

    Also, my nose always runs, since like elementary age. It’s not major, but enough for me to notice everyday. It’s just so normal for me, I didn’t really think it was abnormal. But read your book and thought………maybe wheat has something to do with that…? I’ll find out.

    Went to Whole Foods today with my list to buy and to avoid. Had no idea potato and tapioca starch increased blood sugar. No idea. All these years of buying packaged shredded cheese with potato starch in it. Put back the light sour cream because it had tapioca starch in it and bought the full fat one because it did not have any of that in it.

    I am telling no one outside of my husband (who is such a nice guy he’s supportive of anything I want to try) that I am going wheat-free. I can’t even tell you the comments I will get. My mother-in-law grew up on farm in Wisconsin and I cannot even tell you her reaction if I were to tell her that wheat is bad for one. Not worth the negative comments at this time.

    Thank you again for your wonderful book!!

    • Hmmm. From zombie to reborn!

      You can see that the current versions of gluten-free really need to be “cleaned up” with regards to carbohydrate exposure, especially the extremely offensive cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch commonly used.

      We can’t trade one problem (wheat) for another (gluten-free junk carbohydrates).

  13. Darla

    Hello Dr. Davis and everyone,
    I have struggled with my weight all my life. I am very much overweight. I tried this diet and didn’t feel I was losing, eventhough my sister said I was getting alot smaller, the scale didn’t agree. So, anyway I quit for a while and started counting calories and exercised 60 or more minutes a day. I didn’t lose anything.

    So remembering what my sister said, that I was looking smaller and also how I felt on this diet. I also enjoyed the food, so I’m coming back and trying again and staying away from the scale.

    I think because I have so much to lose I want to see some quick results. I have been trying for so long to get this weight off. I have lost about 40 pounds, some from this and other various diets. The one that seems to work best in my case is starvation. 500 calories a day and I lose otherwise I don’t.

    Dr. Davis or anyone, what should I do to get some quicker results. I know you say that you can have 1/2 cup of rice or beans, should I stay away from all grains for a while? Should I continue to exercise?
    Any help would be appreciated. I now weigh 285. I’m really discouraged right now.

    Thanks for you help,

    • Then something is impeding your progress, Darla.

      Please go back a couple of months in the blog posts here to see the post about stalled weight loss. First consideration: thyroid dysfunction, a frighteningly common situation.