Wheat Watch: Chili Seasoning

You gotta be vigilant for the hidden sources of wheat in food!

While a minority of people need to avoid the immune consequences of gluten, the rest of us need to avoid gliadin, the wheat protein that acts like an opiate to stimulate appetite.

Unwitting humans who are exposed to the gliadin protein of wheat are stimulated to consume 440 calories more per day, every day. And the calories you are stimulated to eat are not from salmon or asparagus, but from carbohydrates–more cookies, muffins, pretzels, chips, candy, and other junk.

Guess what happens when you consume 440 more calories from junk carbohydrates per day? Yup: a great big, bulging Wheat Belly!

McCormick’s line of chili seasonings look benign enough. But don’t be fooled: “wheat flour” is the second ingredient:


Beyond appetite stimulation, those of you who have been living wheat-free for more than a few weeks who experience an inadvertent wheat exposure are in for a night of high blood sugar, joint pain, headaches, and diarrhea, or whatever your variety of wheat re-exposure reaction might be. Sure, enjoy your chili with ground meat, tomato sauce, onions, green peppers, some beans . . . but just use chili pepper and other spices without the health-disrupting properties of wheat!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Cindi

    Ah…and this is why I make all of my own spice mix packet things. I checked out several varieties of things a while ago and was very disappointed. Besides most of those little packet things have WAY more sodium than you need as well. Spices are CHEAP (in bulk) and those little packets are anything but cheap. So it’s better for your wallet to make your own.

    • Lynn

      Amanda is correct that Epicure chili is gluten free and delicious. They have many products that don’t contain gluten and their claim to fame is their low to no sodium content in their products. Unfortunately, they are only available in Canada (lucky us). They are based in North Saanich, BC

  2. annie

    I make sure I read every ingredients label on every packet of food. I notice that any wheat, soy or nut ingredient is in bold, which makes it easier to look for :)

    • Kaylana

      If only that were true all over the world. Those of us abroad have a lot more challenges when it comes to reading labels (not to mention the foreign language hurdle.haha!) I found wheat in the baking powder! The other options are with corn or rice. Seriously, does baking powder really need a starch?

      Anybody know of any alternatives?
      Coming up on the one year mark! Never felt better! Kids are healthy and learning so much better. And our food bill is at the lowest ever! I would challenge anybody who says they can’t afford to eat this way.

      • Linda

        I began making my own baking powder a few months ago after seeing the same problem, corn starch added to make it flow better, blah,blah,blah.

        Baking powder

        2 parts Cream of Tartar
        1 part Baking Soda

        Store just enough for use in the near future. I keep mine in an empty Rumford B.P can.

        • Lee

          I just ran to my pantry because I couldn’t believe baking powder had anything “bad” in it. Guess what? The FIRST ingredient is CORNSTARCH! I had NO idea. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. And thanks to Linda for the recipe. Who knew?

  3. carole medley

    There is a recipe book called Make A Mix that has almost all the seasoning packet recipes you could ever want, such as Ranch Dressing, chili, tacos, etc. Almost all of them contain flour or cornstarch, but these can be omitted easily, along with any sugars. The book’s focus is on making bulk mixes a’la Bisquick, so better than 90% of the book is useless for Wheat Belly followers. Better to check it out from a library than to buy the whole book for a few seasoning packet recipes. I use them all the time, and another commenter was right when he/she said that bulk spices are much cheaper than these overpriced packets. Try your health food store; mine has a whole wall of shelves filled with huge plastic jars from which you can buy herbs/spices by the ounce. In fact, I just made a double batch of the chili seasoning since I will have a houseful of relatives for Thanksgiving in just a few days.

    • Dr. Davis

      Hey, that gives me an idea, Carole: Perhaps we should have such mixes for us wheat-free folk posted right here?

      I like it! I believe I will start thinking about this.

  4. Lo

    Wheat ingredients are in nearly everything. I had a pack of Altoid mini mints in my car which I had not used since starting wheat belly. On my way to an appointment, I popped one in my mouth. Within a few seconds I began sneezing like crazy. I spit it out and looked at the box. ‘Wheat malodextrin’ was listed as an ingredient. All I could think was ‘what the heck is wheat doing in a mint?’ And, then I realized I need to check every freaking label on EVERYTHING!

    • Linda

      I have always loved munching on pork rinds and recently found a brand with a BBQ coating that I really enjoyed, but unfortunately I also noticed that the arthritic type hip pain I occasionally experience was getting worse in the AM. When I checked the label, sure enough, there was that damn wheat again, in the BBQ seasoning!
      You are so right, every single label has to be checked out when shopping. That’s why it is so much easier to eat foods in their whole state rather than processed. But, we still like to add those spices and occasional treats to our food intake.

    • Darlene

      I just bought a pkg of Altoids, and don’t see that listed as an ingredient. I checked before I bought them.

  5. Boundless

    In other news, Hostess Brands (Hostess®, Drakes®, Dolly Madison®, Twinkies®, CupCakes, Ding Dongs®, Ho Ho’s®, Sno Balls® and Donettes®, Wonder®) is liquidating.

    Although the story is apt to be presented as another case of a minority of union employees killing their golden goose, HB had already been in Chapter 11 for some time. One wonders if that was due to an emerging trend in the demand for alleged “food” products that contain almost nothing compatible with human health.

    Twinkies, etc. are probably not going away permanently. It’s almost certain that someone will buy the rights to many of HB’s brand names.

      • Boundless

        > The evil twinkie is gone.
        Doubtful. I suspect some other factory baker will snap up the brand before current retail and wholesale inventories are depleted. They may or may not change the recipe, but you may safely assume the replacement product will be even cheaper to make. They know the Twinkie customer has zero concern for health consequences.

        Although wheat is the #1 item on the ingredients list for the now-kaput Hostess Twinkie, when you analyze the list and the NF, it’s more likely the case that sugar is the predominant ingredient. There are at least 5 different sugars scattered around (see Note), and sugars are 18 of the 27 carb grams. There are also other high GI flours beside wheat, and trans fats for extra punishment.

        Note: Anyone who makes or eats Twinkies probably still thinks that “wheat” is a healthful human food. Hostess may well have dithered the ingredients just to make wheat appear to be #1. Little did they know …

      • Boundless

        Today’s Hostess news, by the way, is exactly what we can expect to see happen during a transition to a low carb / wheatless food delivery infrastructure.

        As demand for high-carb and/or wheat-containing products declines, even by tiny percentages, the weaker poison providers are going to fold up shop first: those in Chapter 11, those running a loss, those facing rising and unaffordable federal- or union-imposed costs.

        Hostess management no doubt studied market trends. Had they seen growing demand for their bread and snacks, they would have found a way to remain a going concern. But bread sales are down and declining. There is no upside. The union may well be suicidal, but the economic reality is that there was no point in management fighting with them.

        What the snack market needs (and doesn’t know it needs) is a high-fat, modest-protein, low-carb, grain-free sugar-free keto bar. There are exactly zero in the retail market (Quest isn’t keto). But it is too early for a maker like Hostess to make a radical change like that.

          • Boundless

            Thanks for the [corrected] link, but I’d be careful about those recipes. Of the first two bars I looked at, one had agave nectar, and the other had coconut sugar. They are not only NOT high fat, they may well be high carb. The protein level is secondary to getting the rest under control. They might be paleo, loosely speaking, but are certainly not keto bars.

    • Sedena

      How pathetic is this???? And the picture that accompanied this article was a small child holding a Twinkie.

      NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Just hours after Twinkies maker Hostess declared it will shut down for good, grocery stores nationwide are already experiencing a run on Twinkies and the company’s other iconic products like Wonder Bread, Hostess Cup Cakes and Ding Dongs.
      “We’re definitely seeing a sharp increase in purchases of Hostess products today,” said Mike Siemienas, spokesman for grocery store operator Supervalu. “We expect this will continue as more consumers become aware of the news. Irving, Texas-based Hostess Brands announced Friday that the company had initiated steps to shutter its operations, blaming a strike by bakers protesting a new contract that was imposed on them.
      Siemienas said shoppers were snapping up Hostess products off of shelves across Supervalu (SVU, Fortune 500)’s network of grocery stores nationwide, including Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme and Shaw’s.
      “These products are available while supplies last,” he said. “But we’re now preparing for the fact that we won’t have them in the near future.”
      When Supervalu stores run out of Twinkies and Ding Dongs completely, Siemienas said the company will fill up the empty shelf space with other store-brand snacks.
      Twinkies sales were also on fire on Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500). In the last 24 hours, Twinkies sales jumped over 31,000% on the etailer’s “Movers & Shakers” sales ranking. On Friday, Hostess products accounted for 10 of the top 11 bestsellers in the grocery and gourmet food category. The 10-count box of Twinkies is No. 1, while the box of the orange cupcakes is No. 2 and a 6-pack of Hostess Sno Balls is in the 6th spot.

      First Published: November 16, 2012: 3:26 PM ET

      • skinny1now

        I came across this snippet from an AP article about them shutting down production:
        ~Customers streamed into the Wonder Hostess Bakery Outlet in a strip mall in Indianapolis Friday afternoon after they heard about the company’s demise. Charles Selke, 42, pulled a pack of Zingers raspberry-flavored dessert cakes out of a plastic bag stuffed with treats as he left the store.

        “How do these just disappear from your life?” he asked. “That’s just not right, man. I’m loyal. I love these things, and I’m diabetic.”~

        Oh boy.

  6. Annette

    You have to read the candy labels. Some of them have wheat. I make my own chilli from scratch, never used those packets. All you need is some cumin, coriander and a few different types on ground chile powder. Commercial chilli powder has added ingredients and sometimes you do not know what. Go to the local mexcian store and get the spices so much cheaper, then buying the bottles.

    • Dr. Davis

      It’s everywhere!

      Whenever I tell audiences that Twizzler’s second ingredient is wheat flour, I always hear a collective gasp.

  7. LorLor

    Yep, reading all the labels has added some length to my shopping trips, but it’s necessary. Most recently I found wheat listed in bouillon cubes and granules, which I had contemplated purchasing to save shelf space over canned broth.

    I was MOST disappointed to find wheat malt listed as an ingredient in World’s Finest candy bars. I know, sugar bad, but my son was doing a fundraiser and I wanted to help him out. :(

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s great, Birgit!

      I, too, used to suffer from the mind “fog” and know what an endlessly frustrating and disempowering thing it can be. Good riddance!

      Judging from the comments, you have having an impact in your community!

      • Dave

        Hi Dr. Davis,

        Brain fog is an unrelenting hell. No matter what was happening in my life (good or bad), that terrible sensation in my head was always there until I inadvertently went 2-3 days without wheat.

        On a physiological or biochemical level, do you know what causes it?

        • Dr. Davis

          I get that brain “fog” effect, too. I know it is an annoying, sometimes incapacitating, effect.

          I believe it is most likely due to the gliadin protein, broken down into 4- and 5-amino acid polypeptides that we know are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and have emotional and mental effects.

  8. Renee

    I just made chili for a party last week with this brand of chili seasoning! And I had horrible joint pain that night. I had a small amount along with some other foods with wheat in it that night but I must have overdid it. It could have been a combination of all of it but I am sure the chili was to blame too.

  9. Amanda

    One of the best things that happened to me in my life is the diagnosis of being gluten intolerant. I discovered real food again, wholesome, good food. I enjoy cooking, make lots of food and I store it in containers so we can all take some to work. Everything in a package got gluten, it is like they know gluten is like crack cocaine.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, I was having dinner with friends last night at a tapas restaurant over glasses of wine. Several of them observed that, since they jumped on the wheat-free bandwagon, they crave vegetables! I hadn’t eaten all day, as I simply got too engrossed in working and some home projects, and also found myself craving some sauteed spinach.

  10. Bryna

    Just to add, MSG and other additive chemicals are also in a lot of the packaged, processed foods too. These can also cause severe headaches, etc. My sister has been very sensitive to MSG for years and other people I know. Wheat adds to these poisons. Everyone, make sure to study all labels very well so you’re not tricked. Also, MSG is added under many different names, not just “monosodium glutemate”. Another time I’ll post a list of all the potential names MSG can be listed as.

    • Boundless

      > Another time I’ll post a list of all the potential names MSG can be listed as.

      Since Bryna apparently didn’t get around to that, here’s a list of MSG euphemisms:
      – glutamic acid
      – glutamate
      – autolyzed yeast or yeast protein
      – yeast extract
      – textured protein
      – monpotassium glutamate
      – calcium glutamate
      – magnesium glutamate
      – sodium caseinate
      – hydrolyzed corn
      – carrageenan
      – pectin
      – soy sauce
      – natural flavors (95% of the time)
      – hydrolyzed anything
      – protein-fortified anything
      – ultra-pasteurized anything
      – fermented anything
      – enzyme-modified anything

      Apart from adverse reactions, this stuff is hidden in the processed food for two reasons:
      1. to promote appetite and make you eat more
      2. to enhance the flavor of the stale, bland, rancid junk they use to make it

  11. Sheila

    Just looked through my cupboard a couple days ago and found some pre-WB packets gravy etc and there was a chili packet. Different brand but yep……wheat in it!! So out it went! Just passed the 6 month WB mark and still and will always love it!!
    Thanks again Dr. Davis and all the fellow WB stars who post their findings and stories.

  12. This is not funny, not one bit.
    Trying to stay away from this Human Rat Poision (many call wheat, and other like grains) is nearly impossible–when my wife and I eat out,

    Now, when we eat out, we stop at a store and get a meat pack and a drink, to tide us over till we get home–too many times I have consumed this crap, and it is the same old same old: stomach cramps, dizzyness, and lower bowel pain etc.


    No commnet–as I cannot think of a rude enough comment, without hurling curses at any one that would sneak wheat into somehing–like a sauce!

    Roger, Ohio

    • Dr. Davis

      Yup. Remember, it’s everywhere . . . on purpose!

      Sure, wheat flour is a useful and inexpensive thickener. But the appetite-stimulating effect is just too “useful” to Big Food to not use.

  13. James

    Two days ago, I went to buy some dark chocolate sweetened solely with xylitol (UK brand Plamil). It’s a great treat for my kids and they are not craving it. But since my local supermarket was out of stock, I tried to find something equivalent. I ended up buying some stevia sweetened chocolate for a try. Back at home, I started looking at the ingredients closer and bam! wheat dextrin was part of it. Granted, wheat dextrin is a fiber. But it is not necessary totally gluten free.

    However, here is a quote from this article from http://www.ehow.com/about_5054691_difference-wheat-dextrin-psyllium-husk.html

    “”The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology” published an analysis of available reports that show soluble fiber can be a help in controlling irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. Because of the greater chance of gas and bloating with psyllium, wheat dextrin may be the better choice for IBS sufferers prone to these symptoms.”

    So my fellow wheat-beaters, what may you think about wheat dextrin ?

    • Boundless

      > Granted, wheat dextrin is a fiber. But it is not necessary totally gluten free.

      It’s theoretically less than 20 ppm gluten, which is the proposed threshold for “gluten free”. That may not be low enough for celiacs and the acutely non-celiac wheat-sensitive.

      Further questions I raise are:
      Is wheat dextrin effectively free of the other hazards of techowheat: gliaden, amylopectin A, lectins, exorphins, high GI carbs?
      Does the chemical processing that makes WD introduce any new hazards of its own?
      These questions are, to date, unanswered.

      > So my fellow wheat-beaters, what may you think about wheat dextrin ?

      Avoid it.
      PS – You can easily encounter it unintentionally by licking an envelope seal. WD is widely used as glue. Don’t eat glue.

    • Dr. Davis

      Beyond the potential for gluten/gliadin residue exposure, dextrin is a polymeric sugar that breaks down into glucose monomers. Yes, it’s labeled a “fiber” but it still breaks down into sugar.

      So it depends on how much is included.

  14. naye

    I am so glad fo this information….I was looking for a good recipe for chilli beans…I have been gluten free for 2 weeks….I was skeptical at first but I began to feel better…I went out of town for Thanksgiving and I am now having indigestion from eating wheat products..I hope you guys make a season recipe site for us beginners …

  15. sue

    I am reminded in reading these comments of the horrible time a family member with celiac disease has undergone in weeding out wheat from her diet: having to read every single label and then finding out later that wheat may be “hidden” as well, bundled in phrases like “natural flavorings,” etc. So even then, you are never sure. She mentioned something about the FDA was supposed to meet more explicit labeling requirements for Celiacs by 2005, but the deadline has come and gone….???
    And if you are shocked at the infiltration of wheat into so many prepared foods, sugar is just as bad. We first became aware of the problem a decade ago when we first became familiar with the Atkins plan…. Even many packaged hearts of romaine brands seemed to be “washed” in a sugar rinse….Incredible!! You just gotta wonder, are we as taxpayers subsidizing these crops in the first place?? Is that why they seem so ubiquitous??

    • Boundless

      > … about the FDA was supposed to meet more explicit labeling requirements for Celiacs by 2005 …

      That might have been the proposed 20 ppm threshold to be allowed to state “gluten free”.

      There are apparently two problems with that limit:
      1. it’s very difficult (expensive) to measure reliably, and
      2. it’s not low enough for individuals highly reactive to gluten-bearing products.

      The take away here is that for many people, “gluten free” isn’t really gluten free (in addition to usually being high GI carbs of some other kind). You have to read ingredient lists very carefully, and specifically look for “wheat free facility”.

  16. Carrie

    The last time my mom made chili, I convinced her not to use the McCormick seasoning junk so that I could eat the chili, too. I helped her cook and we used cayenne pepper, paprika, onion salt, minced garlic, dried basil, and parsley. It was even better than usual! She is allergic to MSG which she did not know McCormick seasoning contained. Even if I cannot get my parents off wheat completely, at least I can cut down their exposure.

    I just remember how I felt when I had a wheat exposure this past weekend. I felt nauseous and my mom said I looked green. The next day, I had bowel urgency and just felt miserable. Wheat is poisonous even in small portions!

  17. Dear Dr. Davis your interview with Lew Rockwell did the trick for me and the in depth interview on “Red -Ice” overwhelmed me into submission. In both cases it was your clear and simple transmission of an understanding of the chemical structure of the molecules involved along with their detrimental interaction with human physiology that did the trick, so to speak. After only three days on my version of your diet the ‘paranoid fog’ in my head lifted as if by magic: I had become frightened of driving a car, a condition I had come to hate and had to battle for reasons I could not explain except by relating it, in some mysterious and illogical way, to my inability to ‘recover completely’ from mitral valve surgery three years ago. In a word your being a cardiologist was also very instrumental in convincing me of the urgency of what you were making public . Thank you so much for having made such a profoundly joyous impact on the quality of my life and, to boot, adding a standard deviation back to my IQ .