Felled by a crouton

Maxwell is a smart guy.

A faculty member at a local university, he teaches graduate students and performs research. A pretty darned sophisticated sort of guy.

At age 62, he’s got heart disease, coronary heart disease that has necessitated 3 stents over the years (all implanted before I met him). Among the causes of his coronary disease: thyroid dysfunction, vitamin D deficiency, omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, and a flagrant excess of small LDL particles. (Notice I did NOT say “high cholesterol”, what I call the “kindergarten version” of heart disease causation!)

Followers of the Wheat Belly conversation, of course, recognize that the amylopectin A of modern wheat is the most powerful trigger of small LDL particle formation. So, beyond correcting his thyroid dysfunction, supplementing vitamin D and fish oil, I counseled Maxwell on how to conduct a happy wheat-free lifestyle to reduce or eliminate the expression of small LDL particles and thereby take back control over his heart health.

And he did so. BUT–He didn’t believe that the few croutons on his Greek salad and other salads would hurt him. Just a few croutons, after all! But he could not understand why he was always hungry, looking for snacks between every meal, hungry after dinner, hungry even when his stomach was full. And weight was stalled after an initial few pounds of weight loss off his abdomen.

I nagged him ceaselessly over a year’s time to completely lose the wheat, breadcrumbs, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or croutons, anything that might expose him to the gliadin opiate of modern wheat. He finally did.

Appetite shrunk. In fact, he now says that he is barely hungry, even after a long period since eating. He requires less to be satisfied, stopping before he is stuffed. He no longer grazes after dinner and feels no desire for snacks or junk at home, at work, at faculty meetings, etc.

He is now losing a couple of pounds per week having done nothing else but eliminate the croutons.

Maxwell’s experience illustrates the power of the gliadin protein of wheat. It’s obviously NOT about the calories in the croutons! Sure, croutons are just a few little squares of wheat bread . . . but it exerts a powerful hold over appetite, pushing your opiate receptor buttons to eat, and eat, and eat.

In a related vein, here is a recent comment from the Amazon page for Wheat Belly:

I’m “that guy.” Don’t have sugar drinks ever, eat low fat, no fat, chicken. Work out 3+ times a week.

So why can’t I lose the 10-15 pounds that I have been working at for years to get rid of? Why am I always hungry even when I had a good breakfast at 9am I am starving again?

I roll my eyes at fad diets believing eat healthy, exercise, and the weight will come off. For some reason this book caught my eye and I looked inside and started to think, “what if the wheat is the reason I am always hungry?”

So I gave it a try and have not had wheat for about 3 weeks now. The first week was actually tough, I was shocked how much I wanted stuff like a peanut butter toasted bagel.

I stuck it out and the constant all day up and down always hungry person is gone. I have lost 13 pounds.

The only thing hard about this is being prepared, making and, yes, cooking my food. It takes more time to cook eggs vs toasting some wheat bread, making sure lunch and dinner are wheat free takes time.

The magic? The 2 mid day snacks are gone, I don’t have hunger pains. I could go all day without eating and not feel as hungry as I did before by 9am.

It’s the gliadin opiate at work again, stimulating appetite throughout the day. Lose the wheat, lose the gliadin protein, lose the abnormally stimulated appetite that impairs our impulse control.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Jacque Koscheski

    Your advice has saved my life!!!!! A wonderful friend of mine has been trying to help me figure out for yrs why I was having so many issues…then she came across your website!!! I told her..”why not try it, I have tried it all with no success.” (being uninsured working at home…cant afford docs). WOW!!!!! Finally….no more bloat, headaches,sleepless night (stomach issues), weight gaining, or feeling like crap (tired,worthless,lazy). I feel like my 30s again ( I am 56). I just wish I could afford your wheat belly book….i am getting writers cramp copying the library’s copy of the book…lol. Appreciate all you do for us suffers!!!

  2. This was interesting to me because while I gave up wheat years ago (I’m celiac), I just found that I was having a similar experience to Maxwell’s – with dairy! I’ve always avoided most dairy products as I’ve been lactose intolerant since birth, with one exception – a bit of half-and-half in my 2-3 cups of coffee a day, which a nutritionist told me should be fine as the lactose was only a “trace” amount. 10 days ago I discovered that it *wasn’t* fine – that tiny bit of dairy was the culprit behind the recent onset of digestive distress (that I thought I had eliminated by cutting out wheat years ago). But in addition to giving me a happy belly, cutting ALL dairy has stopped my constant hunger and blood sugar swings! I’m not trying to lose weight, but I’ve already dropped 2 pounds in the past week.

    There are lots of studies on PubMed connecting gluten intolerance with casein intolerance. So I’m putting this out there for those Wheat Belly followers who aren’t yet losing weight or feeling 100% better – if you’re still eating dairy, you may want to cut that out as well. And Dr. Davis – perhaps the topic of your next book may be Dairy Belly? :)

    • Hi, Janeray1940
      Not sure if dairy is an issue, but since being off of wheat, i have noticed some weight being put back on, i like cheese and this is the only dairy that i use, and i use it quite liberally. Maybe l will try staying off cheese for awhile, although l have never had and issue with dairy. One thing l have notic ed is, i get flemmed up everty once in awhile, l wonder if it’s the cheese, i just might give it a week or two to see if there is any difference.

      • Karen

        I can definately tell you milk and cheese are a problem. I cut out all dairy for about 6 years and as soon as I remarried and my new husband loved cheese, I started eating it again and my congestion and allergies started back. I now am almost dairy free again. I find if I eat a lot of cheese especially I get stuffed up again. Just some food for thought.

    • Tyson

      Agreed 100%. Dairy is the only other food group that causes similar eating patterns and similar GI distress as wheat, and similar “love”/addiction to it. Wheat, Sugar, Alcohol, Dairy – I call them the 4 horsemen of the metabolic apocalypse :)

    • Lisa

      When I quit wheat – it was because I’d read that if you have certain autoimmune diseases you might not be able to tolerate gluten. I have thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis.
      So my thought was that I’d try it for about 3 months just to see if I noticed any change.
      In two weeks already I noticed many positive changes and by the 3 months – I never wanted to eat a crumb of wheat again.
      Maybe that’s the key – to give it a try for a certain period of time – be it sugar, dairy or anything else. Just give yourself a trial period. If you feel so much better – you won’t even Want to eat it again!

      I keep reading how dairy is probably a problem, too, if gluten is…and sugar – blah! I feel like a heroin addict when it comes to sugar. I break out in a sweat just thinking about not ever eating it again!
      Perhaps trying it one day at a time or something like that…
      Just for today…
      Funny – as much as gluten was killing me I can avoid it easy. I’ve quit sugar many times in my life and always went back to it like the bad habit it is. And dairy has helped fill the void left by wheat.

      • Karen

        I can also tell you when I gave up artificial sweetners it was like taking a pain pill for my fibromialgia. I haven’t had tem in years and I can also tell you my migrains stopped as well. I am now really heavy and going to get off wheat now and see if the weight gets better. I too hate the fact of letting go of wugar but that may also be on the horizion soon after the wheat because most of my sugar consumption is linked to wheat like cakes and pies which have the wheat so hopefully that will fix both to a great extent.

  3. Heather

    I agree about being organized with your diet as Maxwell says in the first paragraph. One thing I have been doing when making Dr. D’s foccacia bread is to make “cookies” instead. The recipe yields 8 “cookies”, about 65 grams each. I reduce the baking time by 5 minutes for each of the 2 cycles since they are smaller. I freeze them, then use them as “bread” to make sandwiches. Sometimes, I only eat one as an open faced sandwich. They are really filling and so far have banished the catatonic state that generally hits me at 3 pm.

  4. Annette

    Dr. Davis i forgot what that test was called that measured the small and large ldl.
    Funny thing the Dr. told husband to eat less fat and eat more whole grains even though he told them he was gf.

  5. Birgit

    I went wheat-free almost exactly 6 months ago and I am so glad I did.
    I wanted to pass on the link for the blog I wrote on sparkpeople.com today where I have been leading the “Wheatbelly” team for several months now. This team has grown from about 30 members to over 170 members in this time and continues to add members.
    Thank you Dr. Davis for all you have done. :)

    • Dr. Davis

      Very nice blog post, Birgit!

      I’d like to feature a post linking back to your blog on the Wheat Belly Facebook page.

      Love the photos! And keep up your crusade. You are affecting many lives!

  6. Human Rat Poision is Human Rat Poision is Human Rat Poision.

    Human Rat Poision, even if the Wheat-Product expression is a cruuuu-taun–is still Human Rat Poision!

    No compromise with this poison!

    Roger, OHIO

  7. Karen Robel

    I am also a big believer in the Wheat Belly way of life. Or no wheat belly! I have lost ten pounds in about six weeks. Amazing for me since while doing WW or any other diet I grit my teeth to shed a half pound a week! The thing that surprised me were two times I inadvertently had wheat and woke up with a pounding headache and then diarrhea. I intuitively knew it was from the wheat that I had eaten. One was on a breaded chicken salad that I didn’t realize was going to be breaded so had to pick around it but know I ingested some and the other were some sautéed shrimp that had wheat in the sauce (I discovered that later! Grrr…) Just another reason to avoid wheat.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yup, Karen: Wheat is a poison and you experience a food poisoning-like reaction to re-exposure.

      I compare the wheat germ agglutinin in wheat that is responsible for much of the intestinal havoc to the cholera toxin that induces copious watery diarrhea after exposure to fecally contaminated water.

  8. J. B. Manning, Jr

    I am a 54 yr old male.
    Former high school and college athlete. Strong, and look quite a bit younger than my age. Honestly, I “LOOK” very healthy.

    My lifelong health weak link has been digestive/eliminative… with tendency to CONSTIPATION. Any disruption in schedule would have the potential to aggravate the condition. I could be almost guaranteed to be locked tighter than a drum after a flight, for example. I’ve always been envious of my friends who moved their bowels with ease and like clockwork.

    Trial and error taught me some years ago that steamed veggies for breakfast produced regular, satisfying, “clockwork-like” elimination! :)) It was phenomenal.

    2+ yrs ago — seemingly over night (!) — this protocol stopped working dead in its tracks. I have been constipated every day since, and am resigned to several unsatisfying enemas/week.

    I’ve tried multiple approaches – around diet (oils, etc) and supplements. I always keep refined carbs to a minimum. I’ve played with reducing gluten, but a month ago I eliminated it entirely — although Ive used some GF bread (sparingly). No change. Starting today, I will dump ALL forms of wheat and see what that brings.

    Does anyone on the board have a similar story??

    Thanks all,

      • Read

        Dear Doctor Davis
        Above link is an excellent film Food Matters approx 90min, at no time did I hear ‘eat whole grains’ ;D

        From the same website Seeds of Freedom – one of 77 links to health films – this 30min film tells the sad story of the demise of grain and its effect on farmers internationally. And finishes with people wanting to create a movement back to growing real grains. Real farmers can’t replant modern day modified patented seeds as they fail; they can’t store last year’s grains rot cos they rot; peasant farmers can’t eat their crops or feed their communities as they’re having to grow monocrops ie coffee.

        One last comment, thanks to the self-control and empowerment gained after reading and following Wheat Belly it lead to a mission for better health. Have discovered the miralce oil Pure Virgin Coconut Oil – much maligned – which is a medium chain triglyceride (correct me if I’m wrong Dr Davis) and *no* it doesn’t cause heart disesase or obesity – the opposite in fact – and the keytones it contains will feed the brain no matter what problems people have with insulin and so on – but please research it yourself to be sure. The Pure Virgin Coconut Oil is also a natural sun block – but not if you’ve been using other oil types and until they are eliminated from your system – and good for some skin conditions. Anti oxidant, anti microbial, anti bacterial I think too, but NO it doesn’t cure virus conditions such as colds ;D

        • Dr. Davis

          Thanks, Read! I love that several new documentaries are helping to increase awareness of the awful things being done to grains, in particular, by agribusiness.

          You will also find that many of the recipes in the Wheat Belly book and on this blog use coconut oil, a wonderful addition to the wheat-free lifestyle!

    • Read

      Drink lots of *pure* water – not from a tap. Avoid all wheat and associated grains etc as Dr Davis advises. A product by AIM company Fibreblend is a good bowel cleanser until you find the answer you’re looking for.

  9. Antje

    Eating a small apple just before I go to bed, drinking lots and lots of cleane water, has helped me.

  10. Boundless

    “… died Saturday after complications from cardiovascular surgery.”

    So was Neil Armstrong also felled by a crouton?

    • Dr. Davis

      At least a contributor to his condition, Boundless.

      It’s not something we’ve talked about a lot, since heart disease is not very fun to talk about and you cannot experience any perceptible effect. But the provocation of small LDL particle formation with wheat consumption, and its reduction or elimination with wheat elimination, are powerful influences over heart health.

  11. LC

    I notice that you use sugar substitutes instead of sugar. I have had poisonings from sugar substitutes and so I choose “real sugar” over substitutes. I hope my results will be that I lose my wheat belly anyway. I am also having to play around and find alternatives to nuts as I have family members who are anaphylactic allergic.

    Thanks for a great book.

    • Dr. Davis

      Thanks, LC!

      Problem: The great majority of adults are ALREADY diabetic or pre-diabetic or what I call “pre-pre-diabetic,” i.e., with all the markings of diabetes but not yet in the full diabetes or pre-diabetes range. Only RARE adults have escaped this mess, thanks to years of processed foods and silly advice like “cut your fat and eat more healthy whole grains.”

      From a heart disease viewpoint (my area, of course), nearly EVERYBODY has an abundance of small LDL particles, the sort triggered by consumption of grains and sugars.

      For these reasons, I believe we should eliminate sugar. Note that sucrose (sugar) is glucose + fructose. It’s the fructose that makes sugar so destructive and add to the diabetes, blood sugar phenomena, heart disease via small LDL particles, etc.

  12. Barbara

    Hi Dr Davis!
    I’m a healthy 53 year old woman. I stopped all wheat and even all grains as well as sugar after reading your book two months ago. I’m having great results and I feel extremely well: no food cravings, not hungry often or having fatigue or highs and lows during the day. Previously I’d diet, but always gained the weight back quickly. This has been so great- I feel like I’ve tapped into what really works for my body and I’m losing so much weight- I just had to give away many of the clothes that fit me just two months ago. I don’t mind at all getting a new wardrobe!
    My question is about Green Coffee Bean extract, which has been much in the news and is being touted as a way to control blood sugar. Is this supplement OK and safe to take in your opinion? I don’t want to do anything that might mess up these great results but I was wondering if it could help things along.
    Thanks so much, Barbara

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, it could, Robin. But you will note that there are no calorie limitations here: Eat MORE eggs, olives, olive oil, avocados, meats, nuts, seeds, etc. Weight tends to plateau at a healthy level, though compared to others around you who are overweight you may appear excessively slender.

      • Robin

        I was kind of wishing you would say it would work the other way on those under weight. I am over weight and don’t eat much, my partner is underweight and eats constantly!
        I went wheat free in Oct because of a wheat allergy. While searching the web for what I could eat I found you. I bought your book and read it. I lost 15 lbs since Oct not even trying. I want to stay on this diet. My partner is scared if I stay on it he will loose weight, so we are having a tug of war! I will try to load him up on the things you mentioned above. I am sure he will still have his wheat at lunch time on work days.

  13. bh

    Friday night I was at a dinner party. I had two bites of a dessert which I did not realize was made with wheat. I felt awful all day Saturday: intestinal distress, lethargy, and an awful depression! No more. I will ask questions. Amazing how little it takes to upset the success of a year.

  14. Jay

    Have been on Wheat Belly diet since last April. Lost the 40 lbs. I want and am able to maintain my desired weight. I walk and do light weight lifting 3-4 day a week. But, 6 months ago I developed IBS with continual constipation and for the past 3 months have had an unsatiable hunger. I will have two eggs and two flax seed muffins for breakfast and be starving within 30 minutes. I live on almonds and cheese throught out the day to make it from one meal to another. I keep adjusting intake and items on the diet, but nothing helps. Is it possible that I have lost too much weight and my body is requiring some of the “old” foods I used to eat?