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.)
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
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
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.