Prisoner to food

Jacey posted this plea for help in gaining control over her wheat-induced binge eating:

I have read your book and have read the blog over and over again. I also attempted to eat wheat-, sugar-, and grain-free over and over again. I have a real addiction and I can’t get past a couple of days.

I’m at a loss and I am desperate to stop being a prisoner to food. PLEASE do not just tell me to stop eating it; if it was that simple for me, I wouldn’t have an addiction.

I binge, and I do mean binge. It’s not weekly or monthly – it’s just about daily. I can go a couple of days wheat-free, and then I cave. It only takes one pretzel, or a handful of popcorn, and I am done. I probably consume 5,000 calories, if not more, once I start the binge.

I do need some help here. I really want to lose weight and be healthier. Anyone out there who has the same problem I do and has overcome? How did you do it? I feel so hopeless at times.

If anyone has some good advice for Jacey’s predicament, please speak up. The two pieces of advice–not perfect, by any means, but possibilities–I proposed were:

–Find a doctor to prescribe naltrexone, the oral opiate blocker that 1) blocks the opiate effect of wheat, and thereby 2) reduces hunger. Downside: Naltrexone, besides being costly (usually borne out-of-pocket), will also trigger the phenomena of wheat withdrawal. So I view this strategy NOT as a first-line strategy, but one for those who have failed at all the usual methods (which is uncommon). Your doctor might also consider recreating the effects of the combination drug pending FDA application for weight loss that combines naltrexone with the antidepressant bupropion. Anyone who knows me recognizes that I am NO friend to drugs nor the drug industry; but, like an antibiotic for pneumonia, drugs are sometimes a necessary evil. For some, the power of opiate addiction to the gliadin in wheat is so overpowering that such help might be needed.

–Use the Wheat Belly recipes to create wheat replacement foods. You can still overeat and gain weight if consumed in large quantities, but at least they will not provoke appetite any further, will generate satiety more quickly, and not wreak havoc with health in all the ways that wheat does.

Recognize what we are discussing here: overwhelming addiction to food triggered by wheat (and perhaps corn, 2nd in line after wheat), the foods Jacey and all of us are told repeatedly to eat MORE of. You can sense the desperation in Jacey’s plea, as such binge-eating has real socially- and emotionally-disruptive effects.

Any further suggestions from anyone?

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Laura Zielke

    What helped us to rid ourselves of wheat is this:
    1. We purged all the wheat out of the house.
    2. We still ate the following products in moderation: oatmeal, brown rice, corn tortilla chips, air-popped popcorn with butter and salt.
    3. I purchased some of the gluten-free flours and made some English Muffins–which can be used as bread or buns–and even made Blueberry Pancakes. We’ve been doing this for 2 months now, and I’ve only made pancakes twice in 2 months. English muffins only once. The cookbook I have is “The Healthy Gluten-Free Life: 200 Delicious Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Egg-Free Recipes!” by Tammy Credicott. I know Dr. Davis says not to do the junk calories, and I totally agree. But this is a baby step for my family as we move away from all the wheat.
    4. *** We have found something to order at McDonald’s: You can order a grilled chicken breast, a side salad, small fries, and a drink. It has not messed us up at all. In fact, it’s a nice treat at a familiar place, and it’s very filling.
    5. The other thing we’ve noticed is that we are NOT hungry. If we eat out somewhere and find ourselves hungry within a couple of hours, we know we’ve had something with wheat in it. It’s absolutely amazing!!!
    6. Oh yeah… and Dark Chocolate. Can’t live without that. Just sayin’!

    So, I know these are not the approved WB guidelines, but they are baby steps, and these baby steps have helped me get my family off of wheat…to the point that we don’t crave it at all. 3 months NEVER told me that I would not have bread or cereal or flour tortillas–seriously. In fact, I looked forward to a soft pretzel every Thursday during my son’s piano lessons. But I’m wheat free. And my #1 benefit is that I am not hungry all the time.

    Bottom line: Air popped popcorn and gluten-free breads helped us over the hump of the first few weeks. Now, we hardly have either one of those!!! And there are NO cravings. It’s an amazing lifestyle change. I’m already thinking of what the next baby step will be. I know we need to cut out more stuff…

    I have lost 15 pounds +/- and almost 2 inches of belly fat in only 6 weeks.
    My husband has lost 12 pounds and almost 1 inch in his belly.
    My 10-year old son has lost 3 pounds and…3 INCHES in his belly!!!

    It feels weird, because we’re not really even TRYING to lose weight. We’re just trying not to eat wheat. And since we’re not hungry all the time, we’re eating less. Go figure!

    • Dr. Davis

      It sounds like a reasonable and well thought out compromise, Laura. And I suspect that your family has gotten a lot smarter about food and health by taking this path.

      In particular, you have changed the course of your son’s life with the 3 inches lost off his waist! Extraordinary at his age.

    • Joan

      Start by cutting just wheat out of your diet. Sounds like your trying to cut it all….and that can seem drastic! So start with wheat. I did. I feel better, my husband joined me and he feels better. I suggest walking (or another activity). I really use a lot of my own recipes, I mean….a lot of them do not contain wheat. Good Luck…sending good vibes to you!

  2. Hello

    I feel I was very similar to you. I first read about Paleo before I read the book Wheat Belly (which I loved!) but like you I would do good for a couple days but then binge eat like nobody else. I would go to multiple restaurants for one meal because I was craving so many different things. Yuck! I was nearing 300 lbs, depressed and hating myself. I felt that I was addicted as well. The days that I would eat “Paleo” for a couple days in a row I felt awful. Horrible headaches, grumpy, lazy etc. I am sure it’s some sort of withdrawl/detox effect but when I am trying to work, take care of my daughter etc I can’t stand feeling so crappy and I know that as soon as I ate some high card foods I will feel better so I would cave in.

    What helped me is really controversial these days but it worked for me. I did the HCG protocol with HCG drops. It is a super strict diet that you follow while taking drops of HCG and I lost about 1 lb per day in the first round. There is no wheat in the diet (unless you eat the melba toast that you are allowed but I didn’t). It was easy to stay on track because the weightloss is so awesome that it kept me motivated and if you cheat while HCG is in your system you will gain weight like crazy so it wasn’t an option. After the 40 days I no longer felt addicted to bread, pizza etc. I was actually craving healthy foods. It is another 3 weeks of no sugar/carbs to lock in the weight you get down to and then you are allowed to start adding back in sugar and grains but I just didn’t add them back in and started eating wheat free/paleo. I got drops from http://www.waistawayhcg.com.

  3. Judy

    It has been almost 4 weeks since I went wheat free and I don’t regret it! I agree that it might be easier to just focus on getting the wheat out for now. That is what I have done. I did not give up homemade cornbread, but I switched from a blend of cornmeal and flour to all stone ground cornmeal, which I put my own baking powder, baking soda, and salt in. I still eat popcorn (we pop it at home not microwaved), and I eat crackers that are gluten free. I also bought a loaf of gluten free bread, and I eat JUST ONE SLICE once in a while, if I really want a sandwich or a piece of toast. While cutting out all gluten, I am watching the other high glycemic carbs by paying attention to how many carbs they have, and eating no more than 30 grams in any two hour period and pairing that 30 grams of carbs with at LEAST 15 grams of protein. This keeps the blood sugar from spiking, which keeps the insulin from spiking, which keeps inflammation down. I’ve gone from being in excruciating pain 24/7 to having only a little pain that I mostly don’t notice!

    So, yes, I would say get rid of all the wheat products, don’t buy them, and find REPLACEMENTS that can get you over the period of craving. After you get past that, you might find that you can clean up your diet even more.

  4. Kelsey

    The binging sounds like perhaps it is part of an eating disorder. Often binging is a counterpart to anorexia or bulimia. It seems that there could be emotional triggers that need to be worked through with a professional therapist at the same time as eliminating the wheat for longer than a few days to remove physical addiction.

  5. Carrie

    A few things that helped me, especially because I have to avoid sugar too:
    1.Use the gluten free foods like pretzels and bread to get you past the addiction portion. Glutino pretzels and bread were lifesavers for me when I first went wheat free.
    2. Bring back the fat – in moderation of course. Have some eggs and bacon for breakfast. Put some real butter on your gluten free toast. Eat your popcorn with real butter. Have whole milk in your coffee.
    3. Tell your friends and colleagues what you are doing and why. Having support from those close to you can make a huge difference.
    4. If you want a bit of sweetness, Clemmy’s Ice Cream is awesome! It is sugar free (sweetened with stevia) and gluten free. and best of all it tastes like ice cream, not some wannabe substitute.
    5. Beans are really good – yes, they have carbs in them, but they are also an excellent source of fiber.

    Best of luck to you!

  6. I, myself am working on eliminating wheat from my diet. A few things that I’ve been finding to be the most helpful are:
    Eating lots of bone broth. (Beef, chicken & lamb.)
    Eating the above meats.
    Eating bacon & eggs with real cheese.
    Using more extra-virgin coconut oil.
    Eating more Korean food.
    Eating a bit of rice or brown rice with veggies, etc. for a meal.
    Taking 5-HTP, L-Tyrosin, & Vitamin B6, D3, C, Omega 3 & psillium husk in order to take away major cravings.
    I feel much better when I am off wheat.
    If possible, get others on board with you.
    Talk to a therapist & journal feelings.
    Just a few thoughts.

      • Alice C.

        Hi Dr. Davis,
        Korean dishes are mostly spicy due to the use of red chili pepper. The capsaicin in the peppers reduces hunger and increase energy expenditure for those who do not consume the spice regularly. Thus, eating Korean can help some people lost weight.
        This is off topic but I would like to ask your opinion on red azuki beans. I know you don’t like beans because of their high carb content. However, red azuki bean has a gi of 25. Since the gi is so low, does it make red azuki a better choice of bean?
        Thanks in advance for your answer.
        Good health to all.
        Alice

  7. Sue Scharff

    Jacey,
    I know so well how you feel. I am a compulsive overeater and even cancer hasn’t made me change my habits for good – only temporarily. I strongly suggest that you look into Overeaters Anonymous. It is a 12 step program for folks with all and any kind of eating disorder. I went to my first meeting last October and never felt so welcomed by any group, anywhere, at any time in the past. These folks and this program CAN HELP YOU. You can check out the program and find a nearby meeting (there are also phone meetings if you can’t get to one physically!) at http://www.oa.org/. There is help for us!
    With love,
    Sue

  8. Nobelly

    I think the trick is to eat high fat so that you are satisfied. Eat eggs and sausage for breakfast – a hamburger patty and a salAd for lunch, a steak or a pork chop for dinner with green veggies. You will lose weight. On this even though it is high calorie.

  9. Jan S.

    Can anyone help me with this problem. I saw Dr. Davis on an interview and was intrigued with what he had discovered. I know that I am a wheat addict and I want to quit wheat for my health. After reading all the positive reviews on Amazon I want to buy his cookbook but I am allergic to soy and flaxseed. Is there something I can substitute for these two ingredients? Otherwise, it does me no good to purchase a book I cannot use. If no one knows of substitutes, then does anyone know what purpose these ingredients each serves, perhaps I can then experiment with another ingredient that will serve the same purpose. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • So far my main staple from the cookbook is the pancakes. They are almond meal with only 1 T. of ground flax…. no doubt easily eliminated.

    • Boundless

      > … allergic to soy and flaxseed …

      I’m not the family cook, but I’ll bet there soy is in few-to-no recipes (and it would be fermented soy).

      All food allergies need to be carefully re-challenged some time after eliminating gluten-bearing grains. We’ve had people report that their allergies vanished with the wheat. Not all, but enough that anyone with a food allergy needs to consider it.

  10. Felicia

    Buy the book THE DIET CURE!!! It will help you, I promise :) I dont know how I didn’t find out about it earlier, just purchased it one month ago!!!!!! It will help “cure” your need for dieting…. it will make it easier for you to stick to healthy eating. Good luck!!

  11. Laura

    My husband and I found that not eating any starches sugars and grains keeps us craving free and full. We use the recipes from the book and checked out more recipes on line. Planning ahead is also helpful so you aren’t running around trying to figure out what you are going to eat. We have both lost weight which is a wonderful side effect. We have been concentrating on how we feel. No more aches and pains. No more reflux. No more cravings. It started out as a way to lose weight but it is quickly becoming clear to us that it is making us feel better.

      • Jan S.

        Thank you Laura, Felicia and Dr. Davis for the info., but my question was what can I substitute for flax seed and soy in the Wheat Belly Cookbook? What purpose do they serve in the recipes (binders, thickeners, protein source, etc)? I will need to find alternatives to these ingredients. Thank you.

  12. Sharon L

    What has always helped me when giving up certain foods is to make things that are very similar to what I’m giving up. If I was trying to be a vegetarian, I would make meat substitutes. When I would try sugar free, I’d make things without sugar using fruit juice or other natural sweeteners. So I would recommend making or buying substitutes very similar to what you binge on.

    I also highly recommend Overeaters Anonymous.

  13. I don’t know if this will help Jacey, but it certainly has helped me. I read your book in December and at the same time also sought out someone who could help support me on my journey. I began working with Maria Emmerich, who you mention as a resource in your cookbook. She taught me about l-glutamine and it’s ability to help curb cravings.

    I began my wheat-, grain-, legume-, sugar-free journey just a week before Christmas. I know – crazy! But I needed to make a change. Over the holidays I prepared food items that I could take with me to parties that felt like I was eating bread – as bread is definitely something that I crave. The other thing that I found really crazy, was that I began to notice that I would get full before I was done eating the food on my plate. That was a new phenomenom – to be full before I was done eating, instead of overeating and then suffering.

    Both the Wheatbelly cookbook, and Maria’s site and books have been super helpful to me to help me create food that tastes freaking awesome! I could not have imagined that I could eat food that actually had flavour.

    Another thing that was helpful for me, Jacey, is that I do have support at home. My BF is eating the same foods as me, so that has definitely helped.

    You may also want to purge your cupboards – if it’s not here I can’t eat it.

    I hope that helps – keep it up – you will get there!

    Janice

  14. I can really relate to Jacey’s post about bingeing. I have this problem and I’ve been wheat-free for 3 months. Wheat isn’t the whole story when emotional eating is involved. I just binge on wheat-free (and sugar-free and grain-free) foods. Not much fun to binge on bacon.

    What has helped me the most is learning about the emotional brain and learning tools to uncover deeply wired circuits in my brain such as “I get my safety from food.” When the emotional brain has learned at some time in the past that you can get a survival need met by food (say, in moments of extreme stress in childhood which the emotional brain perceived as life-and-death situations – where you could not get comfort or safety or whatever except by turning to food or drugs or whatever), it becomes deeply wired and the brain will resort to it in times of stress.

    I participate in group phone therapy with EBT.org (Emotional Brain Training) where the providers coach small groups of individuals to deal with stuff just like this. It has helped me a lot. I really recommend it.

    Liat

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, I agree, Liat: For many, there is more than the wheat issue.

      But it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle and one that has received virtually no attention. Yet it is one that is so EASILY remedied!

  15. Michelle

    Jacey, it’s not always easy to just go ahead and do, some planning will need to be put into place. The best advice I can give you is to organise a week or so when you will be on your own – take time off work if you can. Then clean out the pantry of all packaged foods, all wheat, ketchup, flour, etc. Restock fresh veggies, some fruit, meats, herbs and spices only. Each morning prepare a big pot of soup for eating through out the day.

    You are going to have cravings and they are going to drive you crazy at times, but it will pass. Ask anyone who has given up smoking, drinking or drugs, it’s not a nice process physically to go through, but the only way to get to the other side is to do it. Be kind to yourself, have lots of bubble baths, sleep lots, eat as much as you want, as long as you prepare it from scratch. Don’t worry about weight gain or loss at this point. Step 1 is to get over the addiction. I’d also suggest having a pain killer on hand in case of really bad headaches.

  16. rene cook

    Hi I’m a newbee and wanted to try the basic bread but I can’t afford to use 5 eggs at a time. I was wondering if it could be made with applesauce in place of most of the eggs like they do in vegan baking? Any thoughts?