Wheat Belly: Quick & Dirty 2

In view of the many new readers on the Wheat Belly Blog, many of whom have not yet had an opportunity to read the book but are eager to get started, here is the updated Wheat Belly Quick & Dirty summary. It summarizes the essential dietary strategies of the Wheat Belly approach to 1) avoid all products made from high-yield, semi-dwarf wheat that wreak health destruction, and 2) create a diet that is otherwise healthy and appropriate for all members of the family.

This is the same diet I advise patients in my office to follow that achieves spectacular reductions in weight, provides relief from joint pain and acid reflux, reduces triglycerides, shoots HDL upward, reduces small LDL particles (the #1 cause of heart disease in the U.S!), and unravels diabetic/pre-diabetic tendencies. The diet starts with the biggest step of all: elimination of wheat. But a healthy diet cannot end there, else you and I could eat no wheat but fill our calories with soft drinks and jelly beans. So the next step is to limit carbohydrates if your goal is to lose more weight and correct metabolic distortions like high blood sugar and small LDL particles. Then, we choose our foods wisely to avoid the common boobytraps set for us by Big Food and Agribusiness, not to mention the friendly dietitian at the hospital! Diet in the 21st century is no longer just about carbs, proteins, and fats–it is also about being savvy about the changes introduced into our foods by food producers.

All wheat-based products (all breads, all breakfast cereals, noodles, pasta, bagels, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, pretzels, crackers), oat products (oatmeal, oat bran), corn and cornstarch-based products (sauces or gravies thickened with cornstarch, prepared or processed foods containing cornstarch, cornmeal products like chips, tacos, tortillas), sugary soft drinks, candies.

Avoid processed foods containing wheat, such as soy sauce, Twizzlers, Campbells Tomato Soup, salad dressings, taco seasoning–examine ALL labels and avoid any food with mention of wheat. (It’s not a bad idea to avoid foods with labels! Cucumbers and spinach, for instance, generally don’t come with labels.)

Enjoy unlimited:
Vegetables-except potatoes; fresh or frozen, never canned
Raw nuts and seeds-raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamians; dry-roasted peanuts (not roasted in oil); pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, and chia seeds
Healthy oils (preferably unheated, whenever possible)-olive, flaxseed, coconut, avocado, walnut
Meats-red meats, pork, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs. (Consider free-range, grass-fed and/or organic sources.)
Ground flaxseed, chia seeds
Teas, coffee, water, unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk or coconut water
Cheeses—real cultured cheeses only (not Velveeta or single-slice processed cheese)
Avocado or guacamole; hummus; unsweetened condiments, e.g., mayonnaise, mustard, oil-based salad dressings; ketchup without high-fructose corn syrup; pesto, tapenades; olives

Fruit-No more than 2 servings a day (one serving is a level handful), preferably in this order (best first): berries of all varieties, citrus, apples, nectarines, peaches, melons. Minimize bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and grapes and only in the smallest of quantities (since they are like candy in sugar content)
Fruit juices-only real juices and in minimal quantities (no more than 2-4 oz)
Dairy products-No more than 1 serving per day of milk, cottage cheese or yogurt, unsweetened (Fat content does not matter.)
Legumes/beans; peas; sweet potatoes and yams; rice (white and brown); organic soy
Dark chocolates-70-85% cocoa or greater; no more than 40 grams (approximately 2 inches square) per day
Sugar-free foods–preferably stevia-containing, rather than aspartame; other safe sweeteners include erythritol and xylitol
Polyunsaturated oils–safflower, sunflower, mixed vegetable

”Gluten-free” foods made with rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, or potato starch
Fried foods
Fast foods
Hydrogenated “trans” fats
Cured meats–hot dogs, sausages, bacon, bologna, pepperoni “fixed” with sodium nitrite
High-fructose corn syrup containing foods; honey; agave syrup; sucrose
Processed rice, rice flour or potato products-rice crackers, rice cereals, pretzels, white breads, breakfast cereals, potato chips
Fat-free or low-fat salad dressings

Quick tips:
For healthy breakfast choices, consider ground flaxseed as a hot cereal (e.g., with coconut milk, organic milk, or unsweetened almond milk; blueberries, strawberries, etc.). Also consider eggs; raw nuts; cheese; consider having “dinner for breakfast,” meaning transferring salads, cheese, chicken, and other “dinner” foods to breakfast.
Add 1 tsp or more of taste-compatible healthy oil to every meal. For example, mix in 1 tbsp coconut oil to ground flaxseed hot cereal. Or add 2 tbsp olive oil to eggs after scrambling. Adding oils will blunt appetite.
If you suspect you have a wheat “addiction” and are struggling to break it, use the first week to add healthy oils to every meal and reduce the amount of wheat by half. In the second week, aim for elimination of wheat while maintaining the oils.
Reach for raw nuts first as a convenient snack.
Use the recipes in the Wheat Belly Blog and book whenever cravings hit: cookies, muffins, brownies, coffee cake, cheesecake from the recipes can quell appetite with no downside.

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495 Responses to Wheat Belly: Quick & Dirty 2

  1. Karlito says:

    What about popcorn with lots of butter / oil? ;)

    I’ve been on the diet (no wheat) for 1 1/2 weeks and it’s been great. I’ve been doing plain yogurt + nuts, flax seed, dried fruit for breakfast and I’m more full than I was with cereal. (Not starving at 12:00). I told my wife if I dropped 10 pounds I’d buy your book, and I’m already 75% there!

  2. Amanda says:

    Dr. Davis you are so generous, God bless you and your family…

  3. lane says:

    why no agave? i thought agave doesn’t raise your blood sugar the way sugar and honey do….

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Agave is the worst sweetener you could possible use. It is 90% fructose, a sugar that is metabolized in a completely unique weight that leads to diabetes, heart disease, cataracts, arthritis, and dementia.

      I advocate minimizing all fructose sources. Agave is the top of the list.

    • Brian says:

      Agave is low glycemic index and load. The problem with agave is it has a good amount of fructose, and fructose can hurt fat metabolism. However, in the quantities most people would eat it (such as putting a half cup of agave in a batch of 25 almond flour cookies that might get eaten over a week’s time), it is nothing to worry about. It is certainly a better alternative than table sugar. Also, most of the studies have been done on mice/rats, and even monkeys, and have used very very high concentrations of fructose. It reminds me of the aspartame scare a decade or so ago, where everyone thought you’d get cancer from drinking a Diet Coke once a week because some mice got cancer taking huge quantities of the stuff.

      Here is a good, long, and very technical review paper on the topic:

      • Boundless says:

        > Agave is low glycemic index and load.

        Raw agave, perhaps.
        Agave nectar is another matter entirely.

        > The problem with agave is it has a good amount of fructose, and fructose can hurt fat metabolism.

        Yup. If you’re in nutritional ketosis, it will knock you out into glycemic. Weight loss stalls until it clears. Plus there are LDL consequences, and perhaps other problems while the the liver is distracted with fructose.

        > It is certainly a better alternative than table sugar.

        Better, how?

        > Here is a good, long, and very technical review paper on the topic:

        Which says “… resulting in increased secretion of very-low-density-lipoprotein (VLDL).”, which is exactly what Dr. Davis pointed out in:

        • Brian says:

          I have most of the info. about agave memorized, but here is a link to show you how it is better than table sugar and how it is in fact low glycemic index. IMO, nothing to worry about in the quantities most people would consume it in. If we are to freak out about a table spoon of agave a day as part of an almond flour cookie, then we better stop eating apples all together, too, because those are higher glycemic than agave nectar.

          Occasionally replacing wheat foods with wheat-like alternatives made with other “flours” (amond, coconut) is a way to keep people wheat-free so they don’t feel deprived. Most people fail at “diets” because they feel deprived and can’t have the things they desire and/or are used to. And agave nectar is a good sweetner to add to things like muffins, cookies, various breads, etc. and it can help keep people wheat-free, which is the most important thing. Yes, we should all eat Paleo ideally, but that is just too unrealistic for most and by far the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak, is to eliminate wheat.


  4. Brian says:

    It has been a while since I’ve read the book, but this list seems a lot more restrictive than what I remember in the book. I’ve just limited wheat products and limited corn and oats, but still eat them. Never did eat much rice and still don’t, maybe a few servings a year. I’ve cut out wheat and regular soda (will have a Coke every few weeks). I still eat dairy and fruits as much as I want, and the same with sausage (especially at breakfast) and canned veggies (usually fresh, but it is easier after a long day sometimes to just pop a can of green beans in the microwave). We even still eat potato chips and corn-based “junk food” on occasion. We eat potatoes two or three times a week. Both my wife and I have lost 30 lbs since June and while we had some extra pounds, neither of us were really fat. I guess the point is: eliminating wheat is the biggest thing, and other foods (even carbs and starches) in moderation, will still allow for huge changes to weight and health.

    • Linda says:

      If you lost 30 lb eating like that….well if you even had 30 lb to lose….you were FAT. You are just deluding yourself. Both you and your wife really were fat. Just the truth.

      • Brian says:

        Merry Christmas to you, too! My 500# squat says I wasn’t fat. And all markers were what is considered normal. Now get a life.

      • Jay G says:

        Hi Linda
        Although Body Mass Index (BMI) is probably not the holy grail of measurements, for my height, there is a more than 30 pound range in the normal weight category. That is to say, someone at high end normal could lose 30 pounds and still be in the normal weight category.

        • Brian says:

          That’s pretty much it, Jay. I did have a few pounds to lose, but wasn’t one of those people who you look at on the steet you look at and shake your head.

  5. Brian says:

    That should read “eliminated” wheat products.

    • Linda says:

      I read my comment and it sounds much meaner and harsher than i intended. What I am trying to say….nicely….is that 30 lb overweight is not just “extra” pounds. It is dangerous fat.

      • Jay G says:

        Further to my comment above, how do you know that a person was overweight before, if all they’ve said is that they’ve lost 30 pounds?

  6. Tanya says:

    Does butter get limited under the Dairy category or is that a healthy unlimited fat? Or what would be the maximum amount for consumption for one day?

  7. Thanks for the tips & rundown of what Wheat Belly is about. It sounds fairly similar to my ketogenic diet, although my diet doesn’t necessarily prohibit wheat, but it does restrict carbs, which just causes me not to eat anything with wheat, just carbs from veggies & nuts. I’m pretty sure I was addicted to the wheat & now I’m consciously making the decision to avoid it & not put that into my body. My first week in I dropped 9 lbs!! I know this has to be primarily water weight, but it still feels good & is encouraging. I pretty much don’t have any carb cravings, no afternoon “slumps”, & no horrid irritability when I’d get hungry every 2 hours. Now I can go from breakfast to lunch (most often) w/out having to snack. Can’t wait to read your book & tell more people about you.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Excellent, Karey!

      You can begin to appreciate that the biggest reason why low-carb diets work is because they eliminate the appetite-stimulant of wheat, gliadin.

      Unfortunately, most low-carb diets, not fully recognizing the gliadin effect of wheat, advise reintroducing the “healthy whole grains” that invite regain of weight.

      Lose the wheat, lose the weight. Yup: That simple!

  8. Joan says:

    Dr. Davis, I see that you recommend dry roasted nuts. I thought wheat was somehow part of the dry roasting process. Am I mistaken? I found some good wheat free flax seed cookies and crackers at Whole Foods last fall. Raw cashews are my favorite snack.
    Joan in Alaska

  9. Rod says:

    In your book oats and rice are listed as a staple. Steele cut oats are used in the granola recipes.

  10. You say you haven’t seen a change in your weight. Not to ask a stupid question, but: are you already at a healthy weight? If so, then I wouldn’t expect to see much change.

    One issue that Dr. Davis’ diet doesn’t explicitly address is inflammation. It’s certainly a huge step in the right direction, and by eliminating most processed foods, you *will* be cutting down on your omega-6 intake, and thus reducing inflammation. However, he allows unlimited amounts of mayonnaise and oil-based salad dressings, which are typically extremely high in omega-6 fat, because the oil used is usually an industrial seed oil like soybean, canola, corn, sunflower, etc. Even walnut oil (and to a lesser extent, flaxseed oil), which he also recommends, is high in omega-6 fat. I would stick with coconut oil and butter as much as possible, then olive oil, and avoid the rest.

    The other side of healing inflammation is boosting your omega-3 intake. The only sources of significant amounts of the long-chain omega-3 fats that your body needs are certain kinds of seafood, in particular salmon and sardines. The omega-3 in flaxseed oil is the short-chain variety, which does not have the anti-inflammatory health benefits that long-chain omega-3 has.

    If you cut down your omeag-6 intake and boost your omega-3 you’ll greatly reduce inflammation, which typically will improve health, since inflammation is a big factor in most diseases.

    • Birgit says:

      I was going to ask about the omega 6 oils too, in particular soybean oil, which is in most mayonnaise I would really want to avoid, and I was thinking canola is not much better.
      I know you can make mayo from coconut oil or olive oil.


  11. bharwani says:

    I am wheat free for more than 6 months. Dairy free for more than 4 months. No change in weight or any improvement in health. It seems wheat free is beneficial to only some people.

    • Ev Barney says:

      Nothing is for everyone. You may have other issues going on that overwhelm any benefit that dumping wheat and dairy could provide. Could you find a sympathetic doctor? maybe an endocrinologist?

    • Suzanne says:

      OOps, I posted an answer to you but it ended up in the commentary above…

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No. It is beneficial to EVERYONE.

      But there can be other circumstances that impede your success, providing the appearance that wheat elimination was ineffective.

      Please read the many posts on this blog for more insights. You could, for instance, have impaired conversion of T4 to T3 thyroid hormones–very common reasons that prevent even this very powerful strategy of wheat elimination to not be allowed to work.

      And note that you are just basing your observations on weight and perceived symptoms, not metabolic markers.

  12. Pingback: The Willis Way of Eating » Post Topic » The Quick and Dirty Lowdown

  13. kevin says:

    Why ‘no’ fried foods?

    Clearly no frying in Canola or similar, but what’s the problem with frying in duck fat, butter or lard?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      The high temperature of frying, e.g., 400-450 degrees F, provokes reactions that are undesirable (advanced glycation/lipoxidation end-product formation). This leads to effects like hypertension, insulin resistance, oxidation of LDL particles, etc.

      • Birgit says:

        This was surprising to me, too. Does it apply just to deep-frying or also to stir-frying veggies in coconut oil?

  14. RokShox says:

    As for nitirites in cured meats: Leafy green vegetables like lettuce and root crops such as radish contain tons of nitrates (which are rapidly coverted to nitrites in the body). Even saliva is high in nitrites. Don’t swallow!
    I think the hysteria over cured mets is unfounded.

    • Boundless says:

      Cured meats are also commonly loaded with added sugar.
      The nitrite problem may not be so much the nitrites per se, but the nitrosamines they get converted to if you cook that meat (e.g. bacon).

      • Firebird says:

        Look at the carb count. A slice of bacon has 1gm of carbohydrates. I don’t consider that to be “loaded”.

        Taubes recommends bacon.

      • RokShox says:

        Oh, you may have a point there about cooking turning nitrates into nitrosamines. Had not considered that.

  15. RokShox says:

    Also, don’t think that buying “uncured” bacon relieves you from nitrates. Uncured bacon is simple cured in celery juice, which is itself rich in nitrates. But because it’s “natural” they can label it as “uncured”.

    • Noel says:

      Actually, the “uncured” label is used to signify that the product has not been cured using government approved methods, which means that some bacteria may exist within the product.

  16. Suzanne says:

    You might consider limiting other carbs and also proteins, especially if you are female and on the wrong side of menopause. Lots of butter and coconutoil are good for you though. Start the day by mixing butter and coconutoil with your coffee with a mixer. Twice the amount of butter to the coconutoil. Also start carefully with the coconutoil as it might upset your stomach until you are used to it. Having this for breakfast instead of having for instance eggs, means you can use more protein for your main meals.

    • Jeanne says:

      You are making “bulletproof coffee!”. I make hot black tea every morning and add a spoonful of unrefined coconut oil to it. BUT- I had to work up from less than a teaspoon in a large mug, slowly to almost a table spoon.

      You have to realize how darn strange that sounds to 98% of the world that is not familiar with Primal/Paleo eating. It took me forever to even try it! But it is very good. I laughed at myself for taking so long to try it.

      I eat bacon with no nitrites and 3 pastured eggs cooked in pastured butter ( kerrygold or organic Valley) EVERY MORNING. And I am not hungry for at least 5 hours. I have lost 6 pounds in the past week getting back on track after a lapse.

      I also limit my Omega-6 , eat no soy, canola, grapeseed oils. Only butter ,or the ghee I make from it to, eliminate lactose and casein; rendered and filtered bacon fat, I pour into a jar I keep in the refrigerator after baking bacon in the oven at 325.
      Dr. Davis, do you object to uncured no preservative bacon? If so why? Not being contrary, just very interested in your thought on it.

      No sugar, grains and because of photic acid and phytates in legumes I avoid those too except occasionally. All to reduce inflammation in my body. Am facing major osteoarthritis in my knees. Also autoimmune disease.

      Totally agree with the good doctor on the fruit, but if I had a problem with blood sugars, while eating 1-2 fruits a day it would be the first thing to go and increase my veggies.

      Just weighing in- and to all your new readers from a long timer ( even prior to Wheatbelly, on the Heart Scan Blog and TYP).
      This is the real deal, this saves lives, reverses disease processes, and prevents new ones. Don’t let conventional wisdom, dictated by big agriculture and the government -which are TOTALLY in each others pockets, ruin your health.

      • Jeanne says:

        Oops, wishing you had and edit button. That was Phytic acid, not photic.

        • Linda says:

          I’m doing the Bulletproof beverage as well. For me it’s coffee, with a tablespoon each of real unsalted butter and coconut oil, then I use my immersion blender in the mixture for about 30 seconds to give it a nice foamy top.
          I am perfectly satisfied for several hours after consuming my morning coffee.
          I haven’t even mentioned my Bulletproof Coffee to anyone else in the family. They already think I nuts not eating wheat or sugar or factory processed oils.

      • Dr. Davis says:

        Hi, Jeanne–

        Enjoy your uncured, unprocessed bacon!

        Boy, you ARE a long-timer! You can appreciate how far the nutritional insights have come over the years.

      • lane says:

        whats wrong with grapeseed oil? i use olive oil and grape seed oil for cooking and baking- is this something i should eliminate?

        • Dr. Davis says:

          Not eliminate, Lane, but minimize.

          While grape seed oil is cooking-friendly, given its high smoke point, it is rich in the omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, that tends to be overrepresented in the modern diet.

        • Annette says:

          grapeseed oil has been refined and all the good stuff is gone. I stopped using it after reading an article about it. EVOO and coconut oil for me.

  17. Trisha says:

    How about quinoa?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Much, much too high in carbs, Trisha, with something like 108 grams per cup, enough to send your blood sugars sky-high for a long time.

      Quinoa is a garbage food, fit for no human being. It is not as destructive as wheat, just no better than jelly beans.

    • James says:

      I would no call it garbage if you only have that to eat (some people must be in this situation, to be frank) but yeah, its glycemic index is quite on par with the index of sucrose … to my mind a quite shocking news since I used to indulge in big plates of quinoa with loads of soy sauce and, to save the meal a little from complete disaster, steam cooked cauliflower / broccoli / aspergers…

  18. JEY says:

    Thank you for updating The Diet, Q & D. Although I started a Wheat-free and Sugar-free diet before your book was published, eliminating wheat and eating according to this summary is what worked for my weight loss. I carry a copy of it, with websites for the blog and book, with me all the time. Whenever someone asks how I lost 60 pounds, I hand it to them and tell them to buy the book. You are very generous to publish the summary here, and most people do want to know more and buy the book. This one page has started many aquaintances of mine on the road to good health….we are grateful for all you do. Thank you, Dr Davis.

  19. France says:

    Thanks so much for this!

  20. Bill says:

    I had the same experience of several posters. Followed the dietary restrictions of the Wheat Belly book ad experience no weight loss. And I could stand to lose a good 20-pounds. I also suffer from IBS and saw no improvement there either. I still have to take medication related to the ailment.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      First step, Bill: Have your thyroid values–free T3, free T4, and TSH–assessed and feel free to post your values here.

      Wheat elimination will accomplish extraordinary things, but it will NOT cure everything. You can still have conditions that impede your weight loss success, for instance.