A dietitian sees the wheat-free light

Sharon posted her story of wheat-free epiphany . . . despite advising people to eat more “healthy whole grains” for 25 years!

I’m a Registered Dietitian who has been practicing for 25 years. I’ve known many people to eliminate “bread products” in an effort to lose weight only to see them gain back twice as much, so I’ve been poo-pooing a low carb diet for years–until January of this year.

I hit the scale at 143 lbs on by 5’3″ body, my glucose indicated pre-diabetes, my weight was getting ever so close to the obese category, and my blood pressure was 160/90. A friend posted about the Wheat Belly diet on FB so, out of sheer desperation, I got the book from the library, which took 3 months to get.

I still remember the words in the book, “It’s not your fault” and I could have started crying. I, too, have worked out my whole life only to see myself gaining more and more. Being 50, I thought it was menopause, yet other 50-year old women weren’t getting fat.

I went through extreme wheatectomy lasting 3 weeks; it was so bad that now, when I see wheat products, I see poison. I don’t ever want to go through that again! I’m down 13 lbs and fit into a medium sized shirt which I haven’t done in YEARS!

As a dietitian, I’m ashamed that we’ve jumped on the whole grain band wagon. I especially feel sorry for seniors in nursing homes because they have no control over what they eat; it’s regulated by the state. I live in a state that encourages high amounts of carbs. Consequently, we’re seeing more and more 85-year old people fat and diabetic.

I tell anyone who will listen about the Wheat Belly diet. The key is making the recipes in the Wheat Belly Cookbook so that chocolate chip cookies and pancakes are still ok, just not like the ones from the mixes. My profession should look at the issue of wheat in this country and advocate for change but, unfortunately, I don’t see that happening any time soon!

So, one person at a time, I’m out there advocating change! Thanks doc for capturing our attention, it’s making a difference!

After telling patients/clients to cut their fat and eat more “healthy whole grains” for 25 years, Sharon had the courage and open mindedness to understand that she, like thousands of other dietitians, had fallen victim to conventional “wisdom” and made people fat, hungry, helpless, overweight, ill, and diabetic with their advice.

Sharon joins a growing number of dietitians and nutritionists who understand that in this new age, it is no longer sufficient to discuss only carbohydrates, fat, proteins, and calories–we must now incorporate awareness of what agribusiness has done to our food. Specifically, they turned modern semi-dwarf wheat into an appetite stimulant that fattens but also inflames, triggers autoimmunity, erodes the gastrointestinal lining, and exerts other mind effects.

Congratulations, Sharon, on seeing the light and embracing health while rejecting the out-of-touch and ineffective teaching of the past!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Chris

    I eat whole rye bread that has no wheat flour in it.
    It is my understanding that rye bread helps stimulate various enzymes . Does eating rye bread have the same consequences as eating wheat bread

    • Actually rye is protective for metabolic syndrome and diabetes – downregulating 71 protective genes, whereas potato-wheat-oat upregulated 62 genes related to developing diabetes and inflammation. “Results: We detected 71 down-regulated genes in the rye-pasta group, including genes linked to insulin signaling and apoptosis. In contrast, the 12-wk oat-wheat-potato diet up-regulated 62 genes related to stress, cytokine-chemokine–mediated immunity, and the interleukin pathway. The insulinogenic index improved after the rye-pasta diet (P = 0.004) but not after the oat-wheat-potato diet. Body weight was unchanged in both groups.” http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1417.full

      The problem is it’s very hard to find pure rye bread that doesn’t have wheat.
      Sara Stein MD

      • derp

        This is not a good paper. Gene expression analyses on pathways should be determined beforehand, for example through a gene ontology mapping. Just doing an expression study and then looking for some possible hits is not sound science.

      • I’m with derf. Terrible study which doesn’t even support what it claims it supports.

        If you consider a glucose spike at 30 minutes postprandial of 188 mg/dL fine (10.48 mmol/L; from Table 3), then knock yourself out. That’s not factoring in gluten (gliadins), lectins and all the other stuff Dr. Davis talks about daily. No wonder the authors didn’t have the courage to put up graphs of the insulin and glucose AUC and Cmax, although we know Cmax from Table 3 (pictures, 10,000 words and all that). Gene expression is just a weasel way of camouflaging what’s really going on (and getting grant money).

    • stephen ottridge

      I only eat 100% Rye bread. Do not buy the Russian Rye which is 30% Rye as the balance is 70% wheat. My diabetes has improved that I have discontinued injecting insulin and my weight has dropped 30 lbs. I also eat oats. My take is that there is something inherent in wheat that cause the problems. Dare I say that eating whole grain wheat causes diabetes?

      • Diane

        Do you find that rolled oats can be an appetite stimulant, like wheat? When you say you eat oats, do you mean whole oats? I eat oatmeal every morning and I am wondering if it doesn’t cause me to crave more carbs.

  2. Drae

    Yesterday I found a used book on clearance for a quarter called Food Politics. I’ve only just started reading, and while the author is including grains as part of a “healthy diet,” I am already pretty disturbed by the amount of influence Big Num-nums has, not just in Washington, but with nutritionists/dietitians, doctors, and even teachers.

    What’s really disturbing me at the moment is that the author points out a couple of the biggest food conglomerates are tobacco companies. As if they don’t have a history of lying about the health implications of their products, or infusing addictive additives into their products to keep you hooked and eating/buying more. It’s not like this is hidden information, but I guess I just hadn’t made the connection before now.

    You better believe this fact will become a main talking point for me when discussing diet with others in the future. Many are skeptical of the link between bad health and wheat, but mention the tobacco companies control your Kraft Mac-n-Cheese and Oreos, and it might just give skeptics pause.

    • Kem

      Drae… WOW! There is the “key” to combating Big Food and Big Pharma! Showing the connection of food products produced in companies owned by Tobacco companies. And lack of ethics displayed by tobacco companies, and the politicians, that support those tobacco companies. If the tobacco companies DO NOT care about the health of their tobacco customers or consumers, why would they care about the food products they sell to an un-informed consuming public?

  3. Asha Howell

    Thank you Sharon for posting this. I feel the same way. I see Wheat products and I see poison! I tell everyone that will listen. The most resistant are those in the medical profession. When I share about wheat, some act if though they will die if they have to stop, even after hearing it is poison. They just would rather not bother to change and choose to continue with wheat. Many know about my incredible turn around since I stopped eating wheat and grains 4 months ago, they still prefer the wheat. Maybe they are not desperate enough for answers to their health problems.

  4. Tommy Peterson

    Dr. Davis,
    Did you see that Sci-Show on YouTube took on the gluten issue. We’ve been Wheat Belly fans since the book first came out. I think he did a very fair job with his analysis. I’m curious if he got it right according to what you are advocating. See his video here—> http://youtu.be/p6CK_QlagWA

  5. Norma McBride

    Thanks for posting Sharon! I work in the medical device industry, including glucose meters that so many diabetics use today, so you would think our companies would be advocates of such nutritional changes. I “got it” when I read the section on diabetes (given I was already insulin tolerant: aka stage 1 to Type II diabetes) and realized this was almost exactly the same lifestyle changes my Type I diabetic friends have made. Now when I talk to my friends and colleagues about Wheat Belly I focus on it being a lifestyle change, since “diet” has a temporary connotation for most of us, and share from a diabetic view. It’s still the “power of one” that helps people see and understand what they get to do to make their lives better, whether it’s mental, physical or spiritual changes.

  6. Barbara

    Check out your neighborhood grocery store. Seems most of the breads, cookies, candies, pastas and grains , snacks, etc. are on sale. Steep discounts too. Those of us who are now grain free are indeed making a difference. Won’t be long before you will start seeing these products taking up less shelf space as more people start eating a grain free diet and limiting products containing high fructose corn syrup. Grocery stores are in business to sell food. They will stock things that sell quickly. Space alotted to fruits and vegetables will expand if more of them are sold. Manufacturers will notice and try to meet the demand. I have seen this happen over and over. Captitalism at work.

    Those who think we are foolishly following yet another fad diet will be surprised to find out that we don’t have to take expensive meds for various conditions and don’t suffer from the usual aches and pains of aging. Our weight is normal, our skin looks terrific and we have lots of energy. Our lives are in an upward spiral rather than a downward spiral of illness as we age. Those astute enough to notice will inquire. Those who scoff will have the miseries brought on by eating the way they do. This movement will expand one person/family at a time. It is so compelling that people will really notice the difference between the wheat addled and the wheat free. Our health care providers will really begin to notice that their clients are healthier and don’t need as much care. And so it goes.

    • Dr. Davis

      You are seeing the societal transformation, Barbara: And it’s a good thing happening!

      • Janet

        An acquaintance came into the library where I work. She may need a hip replacement (not yet 60 year old gal). Her Doc sent her to a nutritionist because if she lost weight, they may put off the surgery. Lucky for her, the nutritionist is leading her toward a gluten-free diet and off wheat. Amazing! She is having the celiac test, but again, to the good, the nutritionist told her that she may not test positive for celiac but could be intolerant of wheat, like many people are. I recommended a few books myself: Wheat Belly, of course and encouraged her. Related that “gluten-free” can be a trap in just plain junk food and to check labels carefully for wheat. She was interested in the wheat intolerant symptom of anxiety and nervousness and she was surprised because that described her. I sure hope she can change directions.

        • Dr. Davis

          Ah, music to my ears, Janet!

          And it is truly impressive that her doc understands just how powerful nutrition and weight loss can be to avert joint pain and joint replacement! A real progressive thinker.

  7. Lynda

    I am a long time (almost one of the originals) “Wheat Belly” convert. I read the book in September 2011 and my husband and I gave up wheat then. I have commented a few times on this blog over the months following. It is now 20 months since we cut wheat and other starchy carbohydrates – we basically follow all the advice given in the book without trying to be too perfect. We now eat very clean – no processed foods being the main focus.

    In this time my health has turned around – I was pre-diabetic but my blood tests are now normal. I have a hiatus hernia and subsequently had dreadful acid reflux. It has taken many months to conquer this but I am finally off all medication for that !! It was immediately better after giving up wheat, but still took a long time to lose all symptoms.

    I try every day to teach others about this and it seems I have influenced many people to give up wheat. Like the dietitian who was just written about, there are many of us out there spreading the word! I think in this world of paleo, primal, vegan, vegetarian, raw, juiced and whatever else people are doing, the Wheat Belly message is perhaps the easiest to follow – let’s face it, there is only one main rule.. no wheat!

    • Sandy

      I pretty much follow the same – absolutely no Wheat! My reflux was gone within a week and only comes back when I occasionally eat too many carbs. A few Tums will take care of that. These days, I don’t eat any grains at all and feel so much better.

    • Dr. Davis

      Hey, Lynda!

      As you are proving, this is a strategy for long-term health. We can put a number of different labels on it, but all the labels share one common aspect: NO modern high-yield, semi-dwarf wheat!

      • derp

        And refined sugar. And vegetable oils. And processed food. That sums it up, roughly.

        • @ derp…… Opps… that goes without saying “And refined sugar. And vegetable oils. And processed food. That sums it up, roughly.”

      • Gen McGen

        I’ve been mostly wheat free for a year, after reading your book last spring. I’ve recently noticed that my fingernails are splitting into layers as they reach the end of my fingers. It seems to take about a year for a nail to grow out completely, so I’m wondering if I am missing some nutruition when I eliminated the wheat.
        Is there something else I should be adding to my diet when I eliminate wheat?

        • Dr. Davis

          It would be exceptionally uncommon to develop a deficiency of some nutrient in this wheat-free lifestyle. So that is not a likely explanation.

          I believe that an alternative explanation will need to be identified. Many people experience improvements in such phenomena with 1) biotin supplementation, e.g., 2 mg per day, and 2) gelatin use and/or the boiling of bones for soup while NOT removing the gelatin that forms when the soup cools.

    • Brenda A. Pelletier

      To take it to the Next Step, consider Our blood type connections. Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo’s book, EAT Right for your Blood Type’ the individualized Diet Solution… This book explains wheat but also other Lectins in some foods that are good for one blood type while BAD for another type. Very informative and medical doctors need to look at this for disease eliminations! The importance of Agglutination , very relative! Pages 304-05 explains in understandable terms. Check it out!

  8. Merlin

    I’ve just completed four months grain/starch free. I’m down from 235 lbs to 199 so far. I turned 50 a month ago, and I am enjoying the best health of my adult life.

  9. Mike

    Dr. Davis: Every once in awhile you tell us that Wheat Free Market Foods Co. will soon begin selling their wheat-free foods. So far it hasn’t happened. What’s the latest?

    • Dr. Davis

      Very, VERY soon, Mike!

      I’m told that production begins this or next week, beginning with cookies. I tested the prototypes: They were incredible!

    • Dr. Davis

      Oats lack the appetite stimulating property of wheat, the bowel disruptive effects, the potential allergenicity of the unique alpha amylase inhibitors.

      Oats “only” trigger sky-high blood sugars.

  10. Miriam

    I visit the elderly in care homes to bring communion to them after Mass on Sunday.

    It is just awful what they are being fed. Breakfast is turkey bacon, margarine on toast, cereal with skim milk, bananas and pancakes with fake maple syrup. These homes charge thousands of dollars a month and feed the worst diet. But, (and this is the saddest thing) they really think they are doing the right thing.

    It’s all about healthy grains and low fat. Yikes. I see these patients deteriorating month after month and the dementia getting worse.

    • Neicee

      Miriam, my own 92 yr. old MIL has been in homes now for the past 3 years. She has always had a sweet tooth, and touted by the family as one of the finest bakers in the family. Even living for 50 yrs. on a cattle ranch she claims to never have cared much for beef. She would consume some chicken and fish but always gravitated toward the bread/cereals/potatoes/and desserts of any kind. Where she’s living now it’s the same diet. We’ve been told by her caregivers that at her age the last taste bud to go is the one craving sweets. She has Alzheimer’s, with a horrendous breast cancer that is exhibiting outward instead of inward. The home also has to follow guidelines for their food service to meet certain requirements by the hospice hospital personnel to qualify for their license. It makes me want to cry but absolutely nothing we can do.

    • Janet

      This is one of the reasons I got hold of my health and bucked conventional wisdom. My mother was in a nursing home with Parkinson’s. She spent 8 years of hell in a bed where the staff (understaffed always) didn’t even put her in underwear. My mother was probably appalled–she was a LADY, but could not express it and we seemed to have no say in the matter–the staff the next day would never get the message. What the kitchen plopped on her plate makes me sick to my stomach even today to think about. No wonder she was out of it and screaming she was AFRAID OF THE DOOR across the hall. How can anyone live like that? I want nothing more than to stay out of any nursing home. This WB change seems to be the best way to try and avoid that horrible end. All 3 of my sisters have autoimmune diseases. I can’t persuade any of them to get off wheat. I sure hope I can avoid what they are going through and what my poor dear mom suffered.

    • Dr. Davis

      Sadly, Miriam, it reminds me of what goes on in schools, too: Diets mandated by the USDA but represent the most awful way to eat that ensures multiple health problems.

      That’s why it is SO important that we have these discussions and pull more people into this newly enlightened place!

  11. Anne Ralls

    Hello Dr. Davis,
    I know you are a busy man but could I please ask a question that I believe you above most doctors can answer for me. I read your WB book about 8 months ago and changed my diet and have almost completely reversed my T2 diabetes as a result. (A1C 11% to 6.5%).

    I have lost weight and feel stronger and healthier than I have since my 20s (I am 54). I still have about 15 pounds left to lose and they are tough ones. You suggested I get my thyroid checked at one point because I am really dragging when I cut calories. I also have some blood pressure issues.

    I want to find a doctor that can help me with all of my ails with a functional medicine and natural approach. My general doctor had me on Metformin, Januvia and about a dozen different meds. When I started to eat a clean diet and exercise more I decided to stop taking the meds. I know this doctor would disapprove of my decision and I want to find a doctor who will support my desire for healing without drugs (unless they are deemed absolutely necessary).

    I am confused on what type of doctor to seek out. Am I to look for a holistic, homeopathic, naturopathic, alternative, or functional medicine practitioner? The latter are hard to find unless I travel quite a ways. What do you suggest? I live in Alexandria Virginia. Thank you for all you do and for helping me get this far…

    Anne Ralls

    • Dr. Davis

      Wow, Anne: That’s terrific on your spectacular drop in HbA1c!

      Boundless is correct: Your best bet is a functional medicine doc. There are not too many of them, but they are most likely to use nutritional and biochemical reasoning to regain health. They are also open minded.

  12. Loekie

    ‘I still remember the words in the book, “It’s not your fault” and I could have started crying.’

  13. Bea Pullar

    Hopefully many more will learn about the benefits of Wheat Belly next week. Personally I will be away visiting family in another state – but each presentation will be available for a further 48 hours. Anyway, I’ve signed up for the series of Webinars from 8th to 15th May. Dr William Davis is on the 15th. The program features other health experts, and is presented by JJ Virgin. I heard about it through Dr Daniel Amen whose work I have followed for many years as a neuropsychologist – especially his 6 Types of ADD. Yes I am still reading research long after retirement. One bonus of signing up is Dr Amen’s “Sugar on the Brain” -or how to avoid Psyodiabetes.The series i’s free, and a great chance to see Dr Davis – so sign up at http://7days7docs.com/

  14. Helene

    I would like to know if your general advice is to completely remove wheat from our diet or introduce it from time to time, like once a week.

    • Neicee

      If you have read the book,with all the compelling evidence and research, you would not even consider eating it in the future. Once a week is like the weekly binge drinking the kids all seem to indulge. I can’t be a recreational weekend wheat addict, because when I do indulge (by choice or more innocently) I pay a price that’s far worse than a hangover.

    • Dr. Davis

      If you read the book, Helene, you will learn that even occasional exposure is undesirable, given its extravagant capacity to upset health, especially bowel permeability, opiate addictive properties, and autoimmunity.

    • Neicee

      I posted over there and thank you for your interest in the politics of the food supply. Go get them Rita!

    • Dr. Davis

      We need plenty of foot soldiers in this battle, Rita!

      I can think of a number of ways to add your voice: Start by contributing your thoughts here and on the Wheat Belly Facebook page; that alone pulls in other people when they read your unique thoughts.

      Get involved in local CSA’s, frequent your farmers markets. Even consider starting a blog of your own to recruit people from your family, friends, acquaintances, and community.

      I can envision many, many others ways. It is my belief that, as you get involved, the opportunities and needs will present themselves.

  15. Ricki

    Completing my 6th week on the WB plan. Lost 20 pounds and feeling so good. Actually looking forward to going to see my doctor next month and to get blood work done…hoping to be amazed. Today I actually walked by the office kitchen table that was loaded with donuts and my first reaction was “poison”!!! I walked right passed it not even tempted!! Thanks Dr Davis for writing the WB book…life changing!!’

    • Boundless

      > Sometimes I eat pasta made of teff.

      How much teff is in a serving size? A typical 1 cup serving is 50 grams net carbs, which is your entire day’s allotment. On WB guidelines, you couldn’t eat more than 75 grams of teff as a single meal (containing no other carbs).

      Teff contains gluten, but does not contain the a-gliadin-fraction that causes a reaction in those with celiac disease. I have no idea what other grain toxins it might contain.

      > It has a low GI.

      Ignore GI. It’s a number apparently intended to keep people eating carbs, and dependent on meds to manage the chronic consequences. This is a high-carb item, and typical of grains in that regard.

      > Is it a good alternative for wheat pasta?

      Certainly, if you were lost in the wilderness and those were the only choices. If you’re asking on an internet blog, those aren’t your only choices :).

    • Loekie

      It says: ‘GRAINS, BEANS, and VEGETABLES rot in your colon. And that is a fact.’
      My experience is that grains and beans – only in large amounts – rot, but not vegetables.

  16. Alberto

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I was looking for ways to loose weight, researching on free radicals, on a vegan site, body building sites, I like exercise. In the last year, since my Mum came and live with me, I’ve gained pounds that couldn’t get reed off. For mere chance I found your blog, week later bought your book, I’m wheat free for 6 weeks and lost 9 pounds! I exercise 5 to 6 days a week hard, 30 minutes of high intensive cardio twice a week and lift weights the other 3, plus do pilates on a Saturday with body conditioning or yoga. As you can see I do like my exercise! My concern is, I feel weak and still have a dreadful rush on my upper body that goes to my neck.

    Thank you

    Keep the good work

    • Dr. Davis

      Gee, Alberto: This sounds like something that should be assessed by your doctor and may have nothing to do with diet. I don’t say that too often, but it may be true here.