Abbey tells this story of life transformed minus wheat. I call it “wheat liberation” because her story makes me think that she was a prisoner of the wheat message, in pain all the time and not understanding why.
Let the Wheat Lobby and uninformed dietary community prattle on about how “healthy whole grains” while we witness success after success in regaining health.
The last few years a lot of my friends have gone gluten free and have ballyhooed how wonderful it is and how good they feel, but I had been of the opposite mind: “What? Give up bread and cereal? What’s wrong with breads and cereals? It’s what we’re supposed to eat!” But then stories kept popping up on my newsfeed on the internet and I would occasionally read them if they had what seemed to be an interesting or new angle. I can’t even remember what article I read over the holidays, but it prompted me to download Wheat Belly on my Kindle. I took my time reading it because I really wanted to make myself understand all the science stuff in it and, I guess in the back of my mind, I was hoping this wasn’t just another Atkins, South Beach fad (been there done that, couldn’t sustain it.)
So while I’m reading, I’m thinking ‘What if?” As in, what if all this is really true? You see, in my story, I’m a very active 46-year old woman who, since I turned 40, has had a bunch of weird things go on with my body and I have felt like I am 80-years old physically for the last 4-5 years. It started with a diagnosis of hip dysplasia which resulted in 2 total hip replacements in 3 years. And in between that I was hit by a drunk driver and broke both wrists, my left femur, left kneecap and left heel. In fact, my heel is fused with bolts and my ankle doesn’t bend like the other one. I have metal rods, pins, and wires all over my body! I walk with usually only a slight limp. But all this mess has caused me to not be able to lose weight because exercise, while I still love it, takes SO much longer to recover from. A five-mile hike takes a full day to feel ‘normal’ again. And we are a scouting family so we do a lot of outdoor stuff. I hike and kayak with my teenagers, but it has gotten SO HARD.
Well, in my head I’m saying, as I’m reading, “I’ll just do this for one week. Surely I can live without wheat for one week just to SEE how it goes and how I feel. I’m not going to think about weight loss, I just want to know if I FEEL better.” You see, the parts in the book about blood sugar and inflammation are what hit me the hardest–-maybe my aches and stiffness getting up in the morning aren’t ‘old age.’ Maybe the long recovery after exercise isn’t because of the accident. Maybe I won’t be creaky and wobbly and have to hobble to the bathroom first thing in the morning until I limber up. It’s already hard to put a sock on my left foot because of all the metal in my leg; maybe I’ll be able to bend more easily. Maybe I’ll even lose some weight.
I really didn’t hold out a lot of hope. I decided I wasn’t going to be OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] about the wheat because I don’t have celiac disease or diabetes. So I just didn’t eat my usual: bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, pretzels, pita chips (my latest addiction), or for the time being, rice and oats. Had my last wheat on Sunday, January 13, 2013.
On Tuesday morning January 15, I felt VERY DIFFERENT. Already I could swing my legs out of bed, stand and immediately walk to the bathroom, without having to center myself for balance, stretch, hear all the cracking and popping, and hobble to the bath. Very oddly, I didn’t crave wheat. I almost ate a cookie my daughter had made, but I realized that was reflex and I stopped before I ate. I love food so I am not counting calories but just eating mainly whole foods. I love the freedom to eat dairy and fruit! That is so key for me. I even had some (shhhh) candy. But the weirdest thing was that I was NOT craving wheat.
The next day I exercised and then I WALKED UP THE STAIRS WITHOUT THE HANDRAIL. I have to capitalize that because you just don’t KNOW how major that was. The next day I went to a movie and usually afterwards I have to do the whole stand, center, stretch, hobble routine that I do after any extended rest period longer than 10 minutes. I got up, walked to the aisle and did not use the handrail to get down the theater steps. Again, I can’t tell you the last time I did that. It’s been YEARS since my legs felt strong enough to do that.
Now I am almost 3 weeks into my wheat-free lifestyle and it amazingly has not been a bad adjustment. My husband is about ready to try it after seeing MY results. Oh, did I mention my increased energy and sex drive? (tee hee). I don’t miss the wheat at all because I feel so dang good! I’m still amazed and part of me expects the good results to stop, but they haven’t and I am loving it. I have also lost 8 pound without trying. I do have a weight loss goal so I will continue to increase my exercise and strength training now that I don’t fear being incapacitated by exercise. I can’t wait to try a 5-mile hike. I know my ankle will hurt by the end but that will be pure accident-related, not wheat related, and I’ll be just fine with that!
Thank you so much for this book. Your history of wheat really helped me understand the WHY’S of how we got to where we are and what you said just resonated so soundly in my life. I am so glad I gave it a try.