Slave to Wheat

TJ passed on this incredible tale of her lifelong struggle battling an eating disorder that essentially ruled her adult life. She endured food obsessions, emotional roller coasters, life and relationship disruption, “purging” to deal with weight issues . . . only to finally discover the answer.

It all started around puberty. I had been kind of a pudgy child, but around the summer before I entered 6th grade, I miraculously shot up to my current height (5’5) and weighed under 100 pounds. It was heavenly. I had lost my baby fat. Until the first menstral cycle: Oh goodness, it was harsh. I was up to about 140 lbs overnight, or so it seemed.

Then, the pressure from family to lose weight. My mother had me at Weight Watchers in no time and I was constantly consumed with calorie counts and weighing my portions—all at 13! All the cookies and fattening foods in the house were strictly inventoried and checked on a daily basis. A cookie missing? Well, it must have been that fat kid of ours.

My breakfast was traded for a Tab. My best friend used to smuggle me in good ole’ Wonder Bread and processed peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches. I chucked the whole wheat offerings from my mother or traded it for Ding Dongs. Then I discovered restricting: limiting myself to a mere 500-700 calories a day, exercising for hours and, if necessary, purging by inducing vomiting.

My other friend in the neighborhood turned me on to bulimia. She used laxatives as well, but I could never let myself even digest the food, let alone wait for a laxative to work. I would panic once I swallowed more than was on my portion control list. By the time I was 16, I had probably gained and lost 45 pounds over and over a few times. I was on my way to yo-yo dieting.

The summer before I entered my senior year in high school, I discovered that food could medicate me. Whatever was going wrong in my “complicated” life, I knew that the food stash under my bed and in my closet would fix all of it. And, looking back, these were all high-carb offerings, loaded with sugar and wheat.

By the time I arrived at college, I had spent the entire summer exercising and dieting. Who wants to begin a new life at college fat? Well, I arrived skinny, but by Christmas, I needed a whole new wardrobe. Fat, again. To make matters worse, many of the girls in my dorm were bulimic and it almost became a cult lifestyle. Do you . . . or don’t you?

I managed to lose some of the weight before I came home for the summer (I knew my mother would kill me) and managed to live on nothing but apples and peanut butter and Diet Coke for about 5 weeks. But, it really didn’t matter. 3 more years of the gain-lose-gain-lose cycle.

I also discovered another way to keep the craving at bay: cigarettes. A pack of Marlboro Lights 100’s and a 2 liter of Diet Coke comprised my daily menu most days if I was in “lose” mode.

My senior year of college my mother found out about the vomiting and sent me to a therapist. It was useless. The therapist just said that I should try to hold off purging as long as I can and substitue a manicure instead. Then, if I can’t resist, then go ahead and throw up. And my parents paid money for this???????? I shoved it off and went on my merry way. Graduated, moved away to take my first job, binged and purged in my little crappy one-bedroom apartment I shared with my cat.

By this time, I was just fat. Almost 180 pounds. It fluctuated a bit by 10 or so pounds, but I was heavy. I got married, of course going on another crash diet to prepare for the event, but the morning after my wedding, I remember bellying up to the breakfast buffet and letting the diet go. Whew. I was glad that was over. My husband (now ex…) seemed to be alright with my weight. He would get frustrated at times, because I was so frustrated. We would get ready to go out to eat and I would cry because I had few clothes that would fit me. I would resort to the old spandex and we would go out. I would eat twice as much as my husband, feel like a failure, come home and go right to bed to sleep it all off.

Now, just under 200 pounds and only 26, I had to do something. I was binge eating, but not purging. So, I joined a gym. I cut out all fat from my diet and started my real love affair with wheat. If it didn’t have any fat, it was fair game. I did lose weight, but probably not in a very healthy way. I got down to 120 pounds in about 9 months. And, then I continued to lose more over the course of about a year. Also, at this time I took up running seriously. So, I was very physically active. But, my diet was not good and I went from eating very little most days and then completely losing all control because I was so hungry. The excessive running took the place of the purging. I found it difficult to engage in my past behavior now that I was married. It took a few years to perfect the new routine, but I found myself learning how to secretly vomit in the comfort of my shared bathroom, where to hide my food stash, all without my husband knowing.

Well, it certainly didn’t get any better. In a few years, I was diagnosed with anorexia (I still was a closet “binger-purger” and feared that someone would find out about my dirty little secret.) 33 years old and weighing in at under 90 pounds, I was carted off to a hospital.

In a way, I was proud of the fact that I, a former fat-ass, could qualify as “anorexic.” I was running 60+ miles a week and limiting myself to digest 1 plain bagel and some lettuce a day. Now, I was still binging and purging, but I made sure that I vomited up as much as I could and exercised the rest away. Inpatient treatment was absolutely horrific. I basically ate my way out of there. I had to get out as soon as I could to get back to my old lifestyle. I did continue treatment when I returned home, but I really had no respect for any of the people I was paying so much money to. I did not want to listen to them and thought they were absolutely insane. Maybe they were, thinking back on all of it.

Fast forward 10 years. Divorced over the whole mess. Still struggling, but worse. I have been going through this deadly cycle now every day, often 2 and 3 times a day. I resolve to quit. I empty the junk food out my refrigerator and freezer, leaving the 20 boxes of whole grain cereal in the pantry and the 2 loaves of bread, resolving to only eat low-fat foods. Follow the food pyramid, exercise, get plenty of sleep. Instead, I starve until 2pm, load up on a big bowl of cereal (no milk!) and fruit, then feel so sick and dizzy that I can’t function. I can only think about when I will get to eat again. It drives me crazy, I have one more bite, then another, then another.

I feel sicker and sicker and sicker, and then I have to throw up. I go out to eat with family and friends and vow to eat low fat. Load up on the bread, 1, 2, 3, 10 slices. I get all heady when my blood sugar goes through the roof and I can hardly concentrate. I zone out, eating more and more and more and more. I can’t stop. I go home, eat more and throw up. I’ll have an afternoon snack, Diet Coke and pretzels and vow to only eat as many as are in one serving. Yeah, right. 1 more, 2, 3, 30. Now I’m sick again. I have to stop but I can’t. Let’s clean out the freezer and then go vomit! I fall into bed late at night and sleep like a dead person. I can never seem to get enough sleep. It’s like a carb-induced coma! And the muscle cramps wake me up, and the nightmares. I dream that I eat and eat and can’t stop and then have to resort to keeping my food. Or throwing up in public. It’s haunting. Then I can’t seem to wake up in the morning.

The morning exercise program has gone out the window. I can barely do the basic things, let alone get to the gym. No energy. Having emotional ups and downs. Worrying constantly about finding more to eat. Obsessing about what I’m going to eat next. Dreaming of the new bakery down the street.

Then, there are other health issues. My gums have receded from all the regurgitated stomach acid and sugar that I would consume. The enamel is gone, probably from all the Diet Coke. I have terrible acne on my chin area. I have a permamently swollen left foot which no one knows the cause of (I have been to all sorts of doctors). I have terrible arthritis in my knees from the running. A few years back a routine blood test showed that I might have leukemia. The oncologist later ruled that possibility out and sent me to a rheumatologist. Many more tests, but no one could find out why my blood counts were so out of whack. They later returned to normal. Terrible edema. Fatigue. You name it . . .

That is, until I cut out the wheat and processed sugar.

The Wheat-Free Turnaround
8 days and counting. No urge to binge. No highs and lows. No emotional roller-coaster. The swelling in my left foot is almost gone. No queasiness. No acid reflux. Acne cleared up. I can’t believe it. I have never been in such control of my eating and appetite in 30 years. I had forgotten what it was like to be “normal.”

In a way, I’m still skeptical. I have tried everything in the playbook and still have lost the game. Who knew that I was probably just perfecting my wheat allergy with all that high carb eating? I could probably own Panera Bread with all the money I have spent there over the years!

This is big. I have never ignored the bread isle and gotten excited instead about the avocado sale. Just not my normal way of thinking. I think about how good I will feel in 18 days, 38 days, 365 days.

The possibilities are endless for me now. I can start to rekindle relationships that have been strained and brought to the breaking point by my terrible food addiction. I can save money. Food for bulimics is not cheap, even the off brands at the Dollar Store add up. I can get back to old hobbies and playing my piano because now I can focus. I am clearheaded and even-keeled.

Life suddenly is much more interesting now that sugar-highs have no hold over me. And all this because of an over-sized genetically-modified grain of wheat. Amazing. I found my cure. God bless you and your courage to go up against that freakish Triticum aestivum.

Some additional updates from TJ, another week into her new wheat-free lifestyle:

Things have been going remarkably well. I feel like I have regained about 20 years! The fatigue is gone and I feel blessed to have a few more waking hours in my day. Heartburn is completely gone. I can go down steps with ZERO knee pain! And to think I spent so much money and time in physical therapy for my achy joints. Also, I have suffered from foot pain for many years and find this to be subsiding as well.

Now I find that I’m able to listen to my body instead of ignoring and abusing it. My mind says “eat something” but my body doesn’t really want to eat every few hours. I think now that I’ve had almost two weeks of “re-feeding” and no purging, my system is in shock . . . a good shock, though. And, now that I have finished your remarkable book, I learned that the constant grazing is a sign of wheat addiction. It’s so much of a shift from how I have been living for so many years that it’s like learning to feed myself all over again.

I’m finding that my body is so very sensitive to sugar, as well, that I must cut down on the fruit and any food that will raise my glucose. Yesterday, the bowl of fruit with plain yogurt made me so dizzy. Also, another thing is that the binges, although I felt paranoid and guilty about them, did bring a bit of mental comfort. I’ve always sat down to my favorite tv programs with a large amount of nasty carbs and fast food, intent on making this binge the last one! My body now says “Stop! I don’t want that!”

Food Obsessions
Incredible. Stories like TJs remind us that wheat elimination is NOT just about losing a few pounds, or that gluten elimination is only for people who have “gluten allergy.”

Wheat gliadin is an appetite stimulant. In people without tendencies towards eating disorders, it triggers an increase in appetite, increased calorie intake of 440 calories per day, every day. Many people without eating disorders experience intrusive thoughts of food: food obsession. In those susceptible to eating disorders, the food obsession is so overwhelming that it rules their lives. Yes, a slave to wheat (and thereby the people who understand this phenomenon).

In all likelihood, eating disorders are just one way the gliadin protein of wheat exerts its effects in genetically susceptible individuals. In a child with ADHD, wheat gliadin causes behavioral outbursts. In a schizophrenic, it causes paranoia and auditory hallucinations. In someone with bipolar illness, it triggers the mania (the “up” phase). And in someone with tendency for an eating disorder, it triggers food obsessions that result in anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating and purging, behaviors that can change the course of a life in astounding and disturbing ways.

Is TJ just imagining that her lifelong struggle with food is now over since she identified the culprit that caused the food obsessions in the first place? I don’t think so. I think this is very real.

Like This Post? Sign Up For Updates — It’s FREE!

Plus receive my latest collection of recipes, Wheatbelly Hearty Entrees!

Comments & Feedback...

  1. Anne-Marie Vaillancourt

    That is crazy huh, all because of wheat and hi glucose food…

    I am thinking that yesterday, I was feeling weird, a bit dizzy, irritable, frustrated, anxious, and maybe it was because of the muffins I made where I put some cane sugar in it instead of edulcorant because of the taste, now I’m thinking maybe it was the sugar’s fault…

  2. Wow this was me also, no more purging, but all i can think about is my next meal, how sad, I am truly amazed at this story, I also hope and pray one day soon I can conquer my food addiction. Thank you.

  3. Roger

    Once I lost the Wheat, my brain-addiction to food–my craving for Carbs–slowly vanished, after alomst 3 weeks of withdrawl.

    Consider the products made by the cute little Poppy and Co Co Plants–and the cute litte Genetic Modifed Wheat Plant (of the opiate class) not only is not crazy, but not that difficult to grasp! A bag of Opium, a bag of Cocaine, a bag of Whole Wheat–not difficult!

    I am trained as a Substance Abuse Counselor, and, until I read Wheat Belly, I did not know what was happening to me–as Wheat was devestating my mind and body!

    Wheat IS CHAINS!

    Freedom 1 Mar. 2012!

    Roger, OHIO

  4. Neicee

    TJ, that is the saddest story I’ve read in years. Heartbreaking yet so very real for millions around the world. Welcome back to the real world of feeling good, as well as, being in control of your life instead of outside forces controlling you. You will see improvement every day, yet don’t beat yourself up if you don’t – and don’t lose the vision of where you’ll be in a year. I check in here several times a day, for the support and keeping that goal at the forefront. Yes, I still have all kinds of questionable items in the pantry. If I can say no to them at home, I can certainly say no at parties and restaurants. Besides having a husband that still isn’t solidly on board. Please let us know how you’re doing in the future. We’re rooting for your success.

  5. JM

    It is great you are able to do this and congrats for finding the strength to discover and have the fortitude to follow through. It is a shame this cost you time and a marriage. Just imagine how many others are suffering without knowing the true cause.

  6. Ellen

    Good Lord, I can’t believe that woman came out alive. Thank goodness she figured it out, but so many people haven’t and may never with all the low fat healthy whole grain pushers out there. There was a similar story on Fat Head about a girl with anorexia that saw the Fat Head movie and finally started to get healthy. It feels so great when you do figure out the real way to eat healthy and it shows in the way your body feels and looks.

  7. Roger, OHIO


    If you are persistant abstaining from wheat, the sugar cravings will dissipate, over time. My cravings for sugar was a living hell on earth, for the cravings alternated from Wheat Carbs to Table Sugar (kane/beet).

    I am optimistic about this, as I have read many of the older posts, and, though we all are different, there are some things similar to all human beings–and certain addictions to man-altered chemicals (called food) is common ground.

    I look to this site as a support net-work, as I identifed with several composite figures from Dr. Davis’ s Wheat Belly. As I was learning what was wrong with me, I could identify with some of the symptoms with some of the people and their testimoneys from the book.

    In this world of self help, which, I think absurd, it helps to educate one’s self, and, at the same time, net work. Yes, one has to be motivated for change, but, one is more apt for postitive or negative change, within one’s net work.

    I am not shy about my Political or matters of God, but, I really really really really have to watch what I say, concerning people’s consumption of Human Rat Poision, which is my most favord name for Genetic Modified Wheat. As toucy and explosive some are about matters of religion and/or politics, Wheat is more so!

    It blew my mind when I first read that flyer sent in the mail, advertizing Dr. Davis’s book–but I had nothing to lose, by trying it out–and the only cost involved was the more expensive hard back, as I could not waite for it to come in the mail. The book was mind boggeling, as Wheat can kick the living crap out of Aspartame and Genetic Modified Soy–as one time, I did not think that posible–for I have shelves of info–on such crap–especially Aspartame and Soy.

    I urge all to visit this post, often–and, even if you do not post, at least you will be one of the most informed–and healthist in the United States, which makes you an extreme minority.

    Roger, Ohio

  8. Maribeth

    I lost 20 poun’ds cutting back on carbs in general, hit a plateau for a number of years, then cut out ALL grains and lost another 20. It appears I am sensitive to all grains, with wheat being the worst offender. The good news other than the weight loss is increased energy, better moods, less ADD, and greatly reduced aches and pains. The swollen glands behind my ears that made me feel like I had the mumps all over again magically disappeared in a few weeks. Like TJ, I’m also sensitive to fruit and limit it as well as dairy and alcohol, and I eat organic as much as I can. Do I cheat? You bet, but I pay for it, so it’s rare. The aches and pains come back, as well as the “mumps”. Sometimes the call of that stuffed pizza and craft beer is just too darn strong ;-)

    Roger is right about people not wanting to hear wheat is a poison. People who haven’t seen me in a while hesitatingly ask if I’ve been sick, and are relieved to find out the weight loss was intentional. Their eyes glaze over, however, when my response to “How’d you do it” is “No grains”. If they inquire further, I’m happy to explain, but most don’t get it and don’t want to. They just can’t wrap their heads around the possibility that many ailments would improve or flat out disappear if they stopped eating wheat and other foods to which they are sensitive.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, Maribeth: Wheat is poison.

      But persuading people of this, brainwashed by our own government agencies into thinking that they are the saviors of health, is a tough sell.

      You WILL influence a few people around you, but not everybody. The brainwashing is too complete, the addiction too powerful.

  9. Julie S

    Amazing story, thanks for sharing it! How brave of you! I can certainly relate to some of this – yo-yo dieting my entire life, losing weight before seeing my parents, being OBSESSED with food! Now, wheat-free, I hardly think about it. I get hungry and think, “huh. I should eat something.” Never in my 48 years on this planet have I thought like that. I could diet like a pro and could always lose the weight but the core obsession never went away and was still there as soon as I finished my current diet. The weight came right back. What a feeling to be free of this addiction!! I just find it amazing that people give no thought to the fact that the mere IDEA of giving up wheat panics them so much. My friends look horrified and always say the same thing, “oh, I could NEVER give up wheat.” Doesn’t that tell them something?!?! Don’t they see the similarity between that and giving up other addictive substances like cigarettes or drugs and alcohol? They can’t even conceive of cutting out wheat. If you suggested cutting out dairy or fat or eggs they would think it might be difficult but they don’t get panicked at the thought. It’s truly scary.

    • Neicee

      I think Dr. Davis should hold a contest to come up with something clever to say to friends and family when confronted with the “I could never give up wheat” mantra. Just came back from running the gauntlet of another luncheon with a friend. I had the 1/2 lb. burger, no bun, with the lettuce/onion/tomato toppings plus fries. I ate 4 of the fries and devoured everything else. She had the hot shrimp salad (dusted in some kind of batter/flour) with the basel tomato soup. The soup had been made with a thickening and was clear – plus a breadstick on the side. Yet, I’m the one that was asked why no bun? Had to tell my friend I’m just a connivore at heart….we’ve already been through the I can’t give it up thing. So, yes. When someone declares proudly they’re vegan, or vegetarian, or lactose intollerant they get respect. It’s like you’re not patriotic if you don’t consume wheat/grains nor sugar. We need something to describe ourselves with the same aloofness as others do when asked about their eating habits.

    • JillOz

      Tell them they’re not eating “wheat” any more,
      they’re eating goatgrass. :)

      Ask them if they consider themselves a drug addict. If they say no (and most people do know about sugar and laughingly refer to themselves as addicted when they take that extra cake), just tell them WHY wheat is not a food and has turned them into drug addicts. That’ll pull them up.

      People think wheat is food. THat is the big hurdle.
      Once they realise that wheat is now a drug because of the scientific distortion of gliadin in the plant, they will eventually regard it differently.
      When I talk about this wheat stuff to people, I’m very careful to say that though wheat has never been a great food for humans, while scientists were mucking about with wheat to increase its yield, they unfortunately turned it into an opiate in the process.
      That’s easy to say and understand and gets people’s attention.
      Then I say the chief culprit is the gliadin which increases appetite and causes inflammatory conditions including diabetes, ADHD, arthritis etc. Then I wrap it up by saying “That’s what’s caused the explosion of inflammatory conditions in society ovewr the last 40 or so years.”

      Then you can explain the rest of it.

      Wheat. It is a drug made into things that look like food.

      • Lisa

        I like this information, JillOz, – to say that wheat is not actually a food – that it’s been so modified that it’s actually just pretty much an opiate now.
        That it’s never been a great “food” anyway.
        People need explanations and information. Most won’t respond positively and that’s their right. But no one will respond well to aloofness.

        I would get that before sometimes from people – when they were eating organic or something and I wasn’t. I got this “holier-than-thou” vibe from them and it just made me want to eat junk to spite them. Joke was on me, of course, but if we really care about people we will gently inform them and leave the decision as to what they decide to eat to them after all. There’s no reason to get angry with them or dislike them for their food choices. Wheat may have them in its hold – and if it’s as powerful as we all know it is – we must have compassion on those who are still held by it.

  10. Jenny

    I too could do with something to say to friends. My problem is that because I gave up all grains when I became aware I was coeliac, people assume it’s ONLY coeliacs who need to give wheat up.

    Apart from the enormously increased health, I have also lost my asthma (tested allergic to practically every grain when 15, but nobody has ever noticed the correlation), my acne (had adult acne until I stopped the wheat), lost my chest infections….. Because I was underweight, I have gently gained weight to an appropriate level. Before, I could not gain weight for love or money – a problem when I had dropped to a BMI of 17 following breast-feeding. Finally, I no longer need to ‘re-fuel’ every 2 hours. Even my ‘un-observant’ husband has noticed that.

    The only thing that really strikes home is when they say how well I look (if they know me) and guess that I am 15 years younger (when they don’t).

    • Dr. Davis

      What I find odd about celiac disease, Jenny, is that, despite its frequency of 1% of the population, you are dismissed as an outlier, an exception to the “rule” that wheat was meant to be part of the human diet.

      I view it differently: I say you are an example of just what wheat gluten is capable of doing, while people without celiac disease simply have other forms of gliadin/glutenin/wheat germ agglutinin/alpha amylase inhibitors/amylopectin A intolerances.

      Nonetheless, it’s great when you find the answer, isn’t it?

    • JIllOz

      Jenny see my post above for what to say to people.
      I’ve said that on the radio and it really creates an impression!!

  11. Hello,
    I’ve been down this dark, very hellish road. I had suffered from PTSD and all eating disorders simultaneously, for 15 years. It’s a miracle that I’m alive and my mission is to heal the whole person. Any one element missing (mind~body~Spirit), will still leave a person in a tormenting nightmare that seems to not have an end. I do not consume any wheat, dairy/casein/processed sugar/eggs or anything ‘artificial’
    I’m a faith-based holistic nutritional psychology advocate, consultant, educator and leader/ social change maker, making it my mission to heal and transform lives one bite at a time.

    God bless and never give up! There’s a life and a quality one that you deserve, to be lived!

    Amira Rajput, M.A.

      • Tracy

        My husband has been wheat free since before January and I finally read the book last week. I’ve been reading this blog since finishing the book and am inspired. What I’d like to hear are the success stories about how clearing the “foggy wheat brain” has radically improved people’s performance at work. How has this mental clarity impacted effectiveness, productivity, etc?

  12. Marv


    O U T S T A N D I N G ! !

    Believe this, it’s real and there’s thousands of us. No accident you ‘stumbled’ on the cure either ;)

    — Marv

  13. Tyson

    People cannot give up wheat because they are addicted to it. I’ve kicked wheat and I’ve kicked alcohol, and the process was remarkably similar for both of them. Telling a wheat addict that it’s bad for them is about the same as telling an alcoholic than drinking is bad for them. At least with alcohol it’s generally known to be bad.

    Bad diet really causes your gut to get screwed up, and that’s where a lot of your cravings start, in the gut. So cleaning up the wheat and sugar is a great start, because the bad flora thrive on grains and sugars. A good second step is make kefir at home to repopulate your good flora. For me, this step allowed me to finally kick alcohol for good because it killed my cravings for it (and sugar cravings too).

    It’s not enough to just starve the bad flora, you must repopulate with good flora too. I like Yeemos kefir grains because they have goat milk keifr grains in addition to the standard cow milk kefir grains. I have a problem with casein in cow milk, but goat is OK. Anyway, it’s dead easy – put the grains in 4oz of milk in a glass, cover it, wait 24 hours, strain out the grains, drink the fresh kefir! Repeat.

    When it comes to killing cravings for bad stuff, nothing else comes even close to fresh kefir. Not yogurt, not probiotics in a pill, not anything.

    • Dr. Davis

      Excellent point, Tyson!

      We’ve also been witnessing favorable effects with Lactobacillus/bifidobacteria probiotics at a dose of at least 50 billion CFUs.

  14. Trina

    Dr. Davis maybe you can shed some light for me. I gave up sugar in February of this year and in March decided to give up all grains/starches (I read your book in May and a lot of what I was feeling finally had an explanation so thank you for that). I’ve lost almost 40 pounds but it is the additional benefits that continue to astound me (chronic post nasal drip almost gone, acid reflux gone, cravings gone). I tell people the most amazing transformation is the total control I feel over what I eat for the first time in my life (that I can remember and I’m 43). I’ve learned the hard way that “you can’t teach someone what they don’t want to learn”. So many just don’t want to know about this … you must find it frustrating. Recently discussing the “wheat issue” again with some like minded lower carbers who like to enjoy their wheat and this came up regarding the bran. Do you have any insight on this that I can share? This was the comment:

    “There is so much “evidence” on both sides of the wheat issue. Each person needs to figure out what is true for them. I discovered that the bran of wheat bothers me, but not refined wheat. The negative symptoms I have when I eat whole wheat have disappeared with the removal of the bran portion of the wheat (whole grain wheat). I wonder how many people who have a problem with wheat, like (arthritis), are reacting to the bran, but are assuming it’s wheat in general that is bothering them, yet would continue to maintain their improvements if eating refined wheat. I’m not saying that anyone “should” eat refined wheat, I’m just saying maybe some people’s symptoms are not from wheat itself but wheat in it’s whole grain form.”

    • Tyson

      Translation: “But I really WANT to eat bread”.

      Trying to find loopholes to allow continued indulgence. This is the “Bargaining” stage of addiction :P

      • Daisy

        Of course a person who is not trying to avoid wheat wants to eat wheat. Stating a reaction to different forms of wheat is not automatically looking for loopholes. It’s a point to consider, not brush aside with assumptions like that.

        I hope you have a more concrete answer than that, Dr. Davis.

        • Tyson

          White bread still has the gluten proteins and the gliadin components. Just because you “feel fine” does not mean it’s not harming you. I had a near fatal heart attack when I was 34 (on a white bread and white pasta based diet), and I felt perfectly right up to the moment it started happening.

          Make no mistake, wheat is a killer, in whatever form it happens to come in.

      • Roger

        Could not agree more.

        Working with people with substance addictions, has taught me a lot about my self– If only I could indulge, and suffer no consequences, what a wonderful Fantasy World that would be!

        I do not like to see my self as an addict, much less a recovering addict–but that is the skinny on the matter, when it comes to wheat! The Tobbacco, Poppy, Co Co and Wheat Plant have much in common–their bye products are addicting! Some of these plants are demonized, some are villified–but the official status of the Wheat Plant- still LIONIZED!

        Our U.S. Soils were declared dead, in the early 1930’s–and we followed Germany’s lead, with artificlal fertlizers and genetic tampering–never to consider the long term consequences!

        The studies by Dr. Gerston, Otto Warbird and others of the era–is nothing short of jaw-dropping–except we are forgetting the studies and lessons learned, in the early part of the 1900’s. Knowing about their contributions, when it comes to diet and health–and then, reading Dr. Davis’s Wheat Belly, connected some hard dots!

        When it comes to hard-core physilogy–HOW THE BODY/MIND WORKS AND HOW THE BODY/MIND REACTS TO MAN MADE POISIONS–there is no loop-holes, no wiggle room! Consumption of a toxin, even if it has been ordained “food” by the Govt. and “Experts,” is not less toxic, even if it smells, looks and tastes good–and makes a dandy PIZZA!

        I am not going to fight against how the body works, cause’ my mind and taste buds w-a-n-t-s . . . . I cannot “bargain” my way out of evidence. If I even suspect wheat, or any other type of man-made toxin . . .

        I do not want to look like the majority of people I see, and know, in their mid-30’s, and especially do not want to look, feel and act, like most I see, in their mid-40’s. I do not –N-O-T want to look and act like the old men, that are my age! I will be 50 in a few months–and I would like to put the before I lost the Wheat–as far behind as I can! I see streoid freaks, my age, that I once envied, cause they were more muscular and looked better than me . . . I was never on the juice–as an acting or sports career enhancement was not worth the money or the temporary 15 min. of fame.

        Hang in their–Grain Free Community, our best days are ahead of us!

        When in doubt, do not eat!

        Roger, OHIO

    • Dr. Davis

      But remember, Trina: Not all adverse health effects of wheat consumption are perceived.

      For instance, you can still have intestinal “leakiness” to foreign substances develop, leading to long-term risk for triggering autoimmune conditions, without perceiving it.

      Wheat is bad no matter how you cut it. I don’t believe you or I have to convince everybody. Don’t waste your breath. Influence those who have open minds and are willing to consider that this thing that is so ubiquitous, so widely embraced, ruins health.

      • Trina

        The topic of wheat (and carbs in general) is a murky ocean of information to wade through. You have people like the Weston A. Price foundation telling people grains are a health part of your diet if consumed properly and individuals like Matt Stone telling people they just need to “heal” their metabolism so they can eat whatever they want (who is that guy anyway?). Then there are people like Chris Kresser saying not everyone thrives on low carb and some people need to eat more carbs vs. Dr. Westman who says eating more carbs makes no sense to him under any circumstance. Thank goodness I’m feeling better and losing weight – for now I will stay the course :)

        As for convincing people, I guess we need to “be the change we want to see in the world” and others may follow.

        • Dr. Davis

          And I think that’s okay, Trina.

          It’s the zigzagging of thinking and experience that will get us closer to the answers. But note that all of them are discussing a style of eating that is directly contradictory to the advice we are given by “official” sources, paid for with our tax dollars.

  15. Maggie

    I have found that giving up smoking was easier than giving up wheat; this how addictive is it.

  16. JillOz

    Wow. So much waste and unhappiness, just because of wheat.
    One of the awful things is that people whop go on drugs know it’s illegal and a Bad Thing. But wheat?
    Well, fat is soo bad for you…and people repeat it and insult you like robots.
    I’ve been through some of this stuff too, and it sucks big time.

    Dr Davis, can you clarify the causation/interaction of wheat and muscle cramps???
    I suffer from cramps a LOT – is it the wheat or sugar…? More info please!

    • Neicee

      Jill, Dr. Davis has mentioned in several responses to questions on muscle cramps to increase salt and magnesium. I was under the spell of low salt, low fat, etc.. so increasing my sodium was scary. Nevermind the very first time in my life eating the fat on the outside edge of a good steak. To my complete shock and horror, I didn’t drop dead, and thought wow! Not bad. I was getting muscle cramps in some of the strangest muscles but adding sodium and magnesium seemed to have been the cure.

      • Neicee

        Jill, should have mentioned that Dr. Davis did clarify that only those that do not have some kind of condition where sodium restriction has been recommended by their doctors should increase it.

  17. wrotek

    Is wheat really an opiate ? I mean i dont see heroin addicts to be very fat :) I would understand if wheat had cannabinoid receptor activity, since it is well known that cannabis triggers hunger – so called “munchies” .

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, that research is quite conclusive.

      The odd phenomenon in opiate addictions is that the chronic effect is that of loss of interest in food, thus weight loss in heroin addicts, for instance. This disconnect is not shared by wheat, likely due to some difference in opiate receptor selectivity, i.e., gliadin-derived exorphins have slightly different binding behavior than heroin to the various opiate receptors such as the M or D receptors.

  18. TJ

    Thanks for the support. I was certain that my parents would have to bury me…and probably sooner than later. Now, with the incredible realization of what my allergy and addiction to wheat was doing to my body, I’m not so sure that will happen!
    Many prayers for all who struggle.

    • Myrna Silva

      TJ, I applaud your brutal honesty and for going public. Recovering form an eating disorder, I will always be haunted by demons on a daily basis. Since, WB 5 months ago, I have lost 10lbs and started to have fears once again. With advice from Dr. Davis and support from the WB Facebook page my struggle has become more like a challenge. I spend more time creating healthy meals. Now, I think of food as a means to feeling emotionally well, physically healthy, and mentally aware. I have the power to control this. It is more empowering than the false sense of having control over eating. Good luck, stay strong and fuel your body, mind and soul…………..

      • Boundless

        > Abstract: “… strongly suggestive of a causal relationship between the amount of refined carbohydrate consumed and the distribution as well as the overall prevalence of cavities.”

        It has been reported in this blog that parents who get their kids off sugar, but allow them to eat crackers, obtain no decrease in dental problems, and may actually see more cavities.

        Eat wheat: half of the heathcare profession is dependent on “managing” the side effects of this all-purpose toxin.

        • Neicee

          Boundless, I had told my perio and regular dentist for years that carbs had a profound effect on plaque buildup. I had receding bone and TMJ. Have my teeth cleaned every three months because the pockets now cannot be managed by flossing. Since I totally gave up wheat/grains/sugar in Jan. 2012 my hygenist(murdered spelling) says she doesn’t have anything to clean anymore. I’m so paranoid about losing them though I keep going, and paying.
          p.s. – the loss of bone has slowed remarkably and the TMJ only bothers me after chewing gum for hours. :)

  19. Freddy

    Dr. Davis, one of the reasons you recommend against wheat is because of the genetic modification it has undergone. What information do you have on buckwheat? It’s not a wheat at all. So is it fair game?

    • Dr. Davis

      To be correct, Freddy, modern wheat is not genetically modified, in the language of geneticists, i.e., no gene splicing techniques were used. They used cruder techniques that predate GM.

      Buckwheat is fairly benign aside from its carbohydrate content and all the consequences of carbohydrate consumption, such as blood sugar and insulin. This is why I advocate 1) eliminate wheat, then 2) for ideal health, limit other non-wheat carbohydrates to small portion sizes, e.g, no more than 1/2 cup servings (cooked).

      • Freddy

        Thank you much, very helpful. I’ll admit this was my first time posting a question and was surprised by your speedy response. I really appreaciate it.

  20. FrankG

    Just read this article at Medscape Nurses — you may need a free login — Celiac Disease: Not So Rare, Mostly Undiagnosed

    It begins with “The prevalence of celiac disease (CD) in the United States may be more common than originally thought, according to findings from the first large population-based study that sampled people from a variety of ethnic groups.

    Among the survey’s key findings are that nearly 2 million people have CD, but most of them are unaware of it.

    The study was authored by Alberto Rubio-Tapia, MD, from the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues, and was published online July 31 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.”

    but ends bizarrely with the unexplained comments “The researchers also report that in the cohort as a whole, 55 of the patients were on gluten-free diets (GFDs). “The weighted prevalence of persons on a GFD in the United States was 0.63% (95 % CI, 0.36–1.07%), which equates to an estimated number of at least 1.6 million persons nationwide,” the authors write.

    About 80% of the participants who were following a GFD had not received a diagnosis of CD. “This finding may simply reflect the growing popularity of a GFD in the United States in recent years,” the authors note. In addition, members of some households affected by CD may all follow GFDs just to keep food preparation simple.

    Even so, the authors emphasize that embarking on a GFD without first confirming the diagnosis of CD is not a good idea.

    “Symptomatic improvement of gastrointestinal symptoms after gluten withdrawal is considered a poor predictor of a CD diagnosis,” the authors note. “Self-treatment with a GFD is not recommended and should be discouraged.””

    They do NOT go on to explain why a gluten free diet is not a good idea despite recognising that it may lead to “symptomatic improvement of gastrointestinal symptoms”.

    • Dr. Davis

      This is the overly-simplistic thinking of the mainstream: Wheat is only about gluten.

      But wheat is about gluten, gliadin, glutenin, amylopectin A, wheat germ agglutinin, and unique alpha amylase inhibitors, thioreductases, and potentially hundreds of other unique proteins in this product of modern genetics manipulations.

      Just because somebody is not “gluten-sensitive” does not mean that any number of other components cannot do other forms of harm.

      • FrankG

        I agree that gluten is only part of the picture but even just looking at that one part: for some (as yet unexplained) reason these researchers are saying “it would be wrong to go gluten free UNLESS you are officially diagnosed with coeliac disease EVEN if you have found for yourself that avoiding it (which commonly means avoiding wheat) gives you relief from your symptoms”. WHY? Are they really so concerned that folks will be malnourished if they don’t get their ration of healthywholegrains everyday? Especially when advice on living well gluten free is available pretty much everywhere? Are they saying you should not take an interest in your own health and try things yourself but wait upon decrees from the gate-keepers of medical knowledge?

        It makes me angry that there seems to be this assumption that we are all best eating what the government agencies tells us, if at all possible… even if that means having to rely on medication for the symptoms it causes. I see it all the time with Diabetes — “you should eat like *normal* people but take medication to control your Blood Glucose” when a simple dietary change can lead to more dramatic improvements, usually with less medication and fewer long-term complications.. Maybe I don’t want to be “normal” if that make me unhealthy!

    • TJ

      This post made me think about some interesting findings I read about eating disorders…and comments made by my therapists and doctors:
      They are now running rampant in countries where they were never before prevalent. They always thought it was a “western” epidemic. Now, young girls across the globe are experiencing this terrible disease. I would be certain that it is due to increased wheat consumption, namely from processed foods made from imported GM flour, or from locally grown wheat from US seed suppliers ??????? Makes me wonder.

  21. Michelle Phillips

    Such a inspiring story for all people who do have food addict problems. Thanks for sharing TJ.

  22. Belinda

    Neicee, I will be thrilled beyond words if what you are saying about plaque build-up and the ever-evil wheat is true!! I, too, go for cleanings every 3 months (floss 2x day, use other dental tools daily, rinses, etc) and my hygenist does a deep cleaning by quadrant every 18-24 months! I am going to call and make an appointment next week!
    TMJ, too? As in bruxism? That would be outstanding, because I grind thru night guards like a maniac!

    • Neicee

      Belinda, I swear it is true. Yet, my regular dentist refuses to listen to it. We’ve joked about it. The bone is not receding at the same pace it was before and the one cranky molar that started getting loose and stabilized. The hygenist keeps noting it on the chart though. Been in your shoes with the extraordinary messures to save the teeth. I even asked about if there has been any research done on osteoporosis perhaps starting in the mouth, or exhibiting there before detection in other areas of the bone? I swear the guy thinks I’m nuts. Good luck in your journey with perio disease. My teeth are perfect (no actual cavities for 20 years), gums are extremely healthy, yet the bone recedes.

  23. JIllOz

    Dr Davis,
    I am listening to your Red Ice interview and have just got to the bit where youm mention Canadian farmers
    writing to you. It is gtreat to hear of their concern.

    If farmers want to grow wheat, they’ll have to redirect their crop to other markets, like those that use bamboo and other grasses in product development. Construction, baskets, living, home, building materials, maybe even medical, textiles – if you’ll pardon the pun, the design field will have a field day!! ;)

    If they want to keep growing for food market though, they probably will have to find other crops.
    As I have written before, however, what GUARANTEES do we have that scientists will not then muck around with flax/almonds/coconuts etc and distort them in turn? We don’t want another round of plant breeding problems inducing sickness!!

    After all, wheat )even if it was not a great idea to consume in the first place) was distorted because of a huge increase in (perceived or actual) demand ie a response to market conditions.

    This needs to be looked at.

    • Dr. Davis

      I fear the solution, Jill, will be both legislative and increased public awareness.

      Just getting efforts like the Truth in Labeling Act passed would be an important step in the right direction: If you change something genetically, just let us know on the label!

      • JillOz

        Dr D –
        You know one of the best benefits of getting off wheat and losing the belly?

        Fewer busybody morons sticking their fat ignorant noses in your food business and shopping cart, including idiot doctors, dentists and nutritionists!
        Note I said IGNORANT practitioners – there are a few excellent practitioners etc not afraid to actually research and ask questions and even learn from their patients.

        Two points –
        1) please stop using the ‘Arab Spring” metaphor for liberation from the wheat veil.
        Unfortunately it has been severely misrepresented and the so-called Spring, apart from the 1% or so who were true democracy warriors, is actually a resurgence of Islam which is an eneny of democracy. It is a metaphor, which, while well-intentioed actually distorts the WB message you’re aiming to transmit.

        2) We should stop thinking of doctors as our metaphoric mother. While there are doctors who are caring and knowledgeable, there are many overworked, casual practitioners who are simply unsuitable for this profession. hence, we should not be called patients – it is too easy to patronise people who are “patients”.
        We should be called medical clients/customers. After all, doctors do not work for free, they are paid for their services. As people who pay them (whether by private or govt means) we are entitiled to ask questions.

        THEREFORE (apolgies for getting to the point so slowly),
        Dr D, can you put up a short list of some introductory questions to ask your doctor?
        A family member was saying “I trust my doctor, he knows what to do”. i told him he should be asking questions – this is not an insult to the doctor, but he needs to know what is happening for his health. He said he does not know how to research or what questions to ask.
        So have you a few questions to get him and others like him who bvegin from a position of zero knowledge started?

        • JillOz

          Just to add – I have a lot of respect for knowledgeable practitioners who treat their patients/clients to the best of their ability. There are some wonderful caring nurses, doctors, denitists, naturopaths out there. And when you ask them questions they do their best to answer.

          There are also cackhanded hacks out there who should never be allowed within reach of a stethoscope, who just do stuff to you becuase they won’t admit they don’t know what afflicts you or becuase you’re there and they need to write off something against tax.
          These people are not doctors/healers, they are a burden on the health system.

        • Dr. Davis

          I hear you, Jlll.

          Let me ponder this. I’m not sure there are a discrete list of questions that are specific to this conversation.

  24. My daughter has a similar, horrific story. She was a chubby child, with well-meaning, but misguided parents who tried to help her with a low-fat diet and programs for overweight kids. Despite (or because of) our efforts, she weighed over 300 pounds at age 17. She lost half her body weight, but, without the knowledge of her family, she developed bulimia with her efforts to maintain her weight loss. Her eating disorders, insomnia, and depression hit their peak when she was living alone, attending a highly stressful, intensive acting program in NYC, and following a vegetarian diet. Five years later, on a wheat-free, low-carb, paleo lifestyle, she is happily married and her mood and eating disorders have vanished. She is set to enter an accelerated masters degree program this fall and has no doubt she will have the energy and stamina to pursue it and work full-time with the mental focus and good physical health she has achieved.
    I am convinced that eating disorders are part of the entire insulin resistance/carbohydrate intolerance syndrome that has ballooned to epidemic proportions as a result of the low-fat, grain-based diet we were brainwashed into adopting over the past 50 years.
    My daughter is a big “Wheat Belly” fan (in fact, she is the one who bought the book and shared it with me), and as I reported in an earlier post, I made the carrot-cake recipe (using zucchini rather than carrots) for her wedding in April and they were a huge hit with my family, almost all of whom are on low-carb, grain-free diets.

    • Dr. Davis

      Wow, that’s wonderful, Peggy!

      I shudder to think how many other young women are out there, lives distorted or ruined by this effect.

      This is among my priorities: to help fund research to better document the association of wheat gliadin and eating disorders.

  25. Loretta

    Dr. Davis,

    A question. I’ve tried to get my Dad who is diabetic and has CAD to read your book and have talked about low carb to him. He has developed pancreatitis, which has been quite troublesome and painful. Do you think the elimination of wheat will help and what does he need to do/ what kind of Dr. does he need to see. Frankly, I’ve just about lost confidence in most medical doctors these days, as they either seem to be entirely uninformed or totally resistant to any of the new information coming out. Hold outs to the dark ages. Although, I will say my family MD is quite supportive.


    • Dr. Davis

      Yup, most of my colleagues are truly in the dark ages with nutrition. Thank goodness for the occasional open-minded!

      The question of pancreatitis is complex. While it might respond over a long period to wheat elimination, your dad needs an upfront answer. Pancreatitis is very serious business and can be due to a number of causes, including gallstones and drugs. So this needs priority before any change in diet.

      • Loretta

        Thanks Dr. Davis. Yes, he is on Metformin and, in googling that I see, in some instances, where it can cause pancreatitis. I will pass this along.

  26. LivingInFreedom

    I, too, dealt with anorexia and binging/exercising for years. Little did I know I had undiagnosed celiac.

    Since eliminating gluten, and going on the candida diet for my systemic candida, I feel like a free woman! Just want to encourage people, as TJ did…there is hope!!

    Thank you for writing this book, Dr. Davis. May it be a tool to bring health and healing to many!

    p.s. I’m from MKE, too :)

    • Dr. Davis

      Hey, fellow Milwaukeean!

      Yes, and note that we are not talking about hospitalization, nasty drugs, electroshock therapy, or frontal lobotomy. We are talking about a shift in food choices that is life changing.

  27. Mrs. Ratfire

    Thank you for posting this, it took courage. Keep on the program, you will be healed. Best wishes for your continued success. Mrs. Ratfire

  28. Sarah

    Hey TJ,

    I just wanted to say this is very similar to my experience. It really is the wheat and carbs.

  29. Rose

    Both my husband and myself eliminated wheat from our diets about 3 weeks ago. Though we have not lost weight, we both feel our bodies are healthier from the inside out and that is what is most important.
    I am a healthy 62 year olf and my concern is that I am unable to take vitamins. The many attempts over the years have left me lethargic and this includes any form of calcium supplement. I have even tried Tums but they upset my stomach. For about 4 years now I relied on Total cereal for 100% of my calcium, adding yogurt etc to get the extra 50% needed for my age. I am trying to substitute veggies but am told that I will still be running low on calcium. I have osteoporosis and my bone density is a major concern as I am unable to take Boniva etc as they upset my stomach. A decision will need to be made soon regarding some form of treatment. I see the wheat elimination as my only hope in helping my bones but I still feel that I should have a big source of calcium as in the cereal. I would love to get your thoughts on this and any suggestions. Many, many thanks for all that you do!

    • Dr. Davis

      The most important factor in bone health, Rose, is vitamin D. Getting a blood level of 25-hydroxy vitamin D of 60-70 ng/ml improves bone health/density in the majority and quadruples intestinal absorption of calcium. Vitamin D, along with elimination of wheat, can be a powerful combined regimen for bone health.

      Obtaining sufficient calcium in the diet is likely not an important factor for bone health. New data, in fact, is suggesting that calcium taken in supplement form increases risk for heart attack by 25-50%, likely because calcium is passive and just goes anywhere, including arteries and heart valves where it does not belong.

  30. sss

    After years of undiagnosed gall bladder disease I finally found Dr. Smedley’s site about gall bladder disease and got out my FULLY DISTENDED gall bladder that showed up on EVERY imaging as “normal.” Until I could find a surgeon willing to take it out despite the “normal” readings on all the images, I followed Dr. Smedley’s Saint Anthony’s diet — no fat diet. He does allow whole grains but I discovered that eating corn was just plain painful. I kept the whole grain cereals (with low fat soy milk) because I really had little choice — I was down to so few things — plain baked potatoes, broiled chicken breast, plain salad — that I could eat with out substantial pain, period. Including no dairy products because that reaction (not to be too graphic) mirrored samonella poisoning. Ok, so when the surgeon took it out he was amazed that the fully distended gall bladder had not ruptured. He even gave me the surgical photos to send to every surgeon who had passed on my case. But, that was then. After the procedure I could finally eat milk products again. But, I began to notice that a feeling of distention and pain near where the gall bladder had been. And, I developed arthritis in the joint where my thumb joins the palm of my hand. Somedays it was worse than others. And, the constipation came back, too. But, every investigation said the bile duct was “patent.” So, then I saw you on one of the morning shows and decided to try deleting wheat from my diet. I started on Labor Day — cold turkey. I’ve had no cravings. Although I’m allergic to nuts, I’ve managed to get by eating sunflower seeds and chick peas, even homemade beef chili and omelets with cheese. So far, so good. Today, my hands hurt less and my hip isn’t stiff. I’d love to see you and Dr. Smedley collaborate b/c it seems to me based on anecdotal evidence that between the two of you, you pretty much resolve most of the reasons people have eating disorders.