Wheat Belly does Europe!

Long-time Wheat Belly follower, Donna, describes her 3-week jaunt through Europe . . . sans wheat! She successfully navigated her way through rich European breakfasts, lunch, and dinners, not getting tripped up even once. (Wheat Belly followers here since the beginning may remember Donna’s fabulous shrinking tummy transformation that she posted for us way back.)

When my husband George and I decided to take a three week trip to Europe to celebrate our 25th anniversary, one of my first thoughts was “How could I stay true to Wheat Belly while visiting France and Italy? Baguettes, croissants, pastries and pasta everywhere?”

Before leaving on our trip, I had been a faithful follower of Wheat Belly concepts for more than 18 months. I was afraid of undoing my new lifestyle with a mere glance at a Paris dessert tray. I did not want to blow my success of achieving good weight, freedom from body aches, greater energy, and fantastic lipid profile.

I learned early on from the Wheat Belly book that becoming a fat burner, rather than a sugar burner, would make my life easier when it came to my appetite and relationship to food. Since I could go for 5-6 hours, even much longer, without truly being hungry (unlike in the past where I would tear through the cupboards in desperation if I went that long), I knew I could be successful traveling.

In cities such as Paris, there are tempting loaves of long, crunchy bread that I previously would have died for, but my bread obsession has disappeared since following Wheat Belly. I now know what wheat can do to my body and none of it is good. Over time, my mind got retrained. I look at bread as if it’s part of the table, like the silverware, since the waiter insists on bringing it, but it holds no interest. I would look at Paris treats in the windows as I would look at cute animals at the zoo–fun to look at and take pictures of, but do not touch! Just taking photos of the fancy food displays to share with my friends later was enough to keep my mind legal and not tempted to commit any Wheat Belly felonies!

One great thing about European hotels is that a breakfast buffet is included in the price of your room, unlike in America. Buffets can be mine fields, though, unless you go to breakfast mentally prepared. The typical buffet includes everything from smoked salmon and cucumbers to chocolate cakes and tortes, with tons of carbohydrates and sugar. There is yogurt in little glass jars, rows of colorful juices, bowls of fruit, eggs, sausage, and assorted cereals. Most buffets in France and Italy had a similar spread so, after one hotel, it’s easy to navigate the next one. I stuck with hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, bacon, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a small piece of fruit. I was afraid to try the scrambled eggs since hearing that some restaurants in the States make them more fluffy by adding flour. This type of breakfast kept my blood sugar stable. We walked and explored for hours each morning and I still did not feel hungry by noon.

Did I ever feel like cheating? Surprisingly, no. Even with my husband sitting right across those tiny French tables, eating his cereal and milk, I had no desire for off-limit foods. I didn’t give my husband the “evil eye” for eating things I wouldn’t order and he didn’t mock me for my choices. I did grimace to myself at the huge bowl of oatmeal he’d get in Italy, though, knowing he’d be ravenous in a few short hours.

We discovered an outdoor market in Florence that had table after table filled with various types of chocolate. I nearly dove onto one table, it was so enticing. Fortunately, I found a merchant who made their own 90% dark chocolate. We had run out of my stash from home, so it was good timing. Florence may have an original Michelangelo and countless other artistic treasures, but I will always remember how beautiful those chocolate treats were displayed! Chocolate art trumps marble art any day in my book.

You can find good meals, but it is helpful to pack snacks before you leave home. There will be times when there is no healthy food available or you may not eat out until later in the evening, which is the custom in Europe. I came armed with extra-dark chocolate bars (90%) and some Brazil and macadamia nuts. I also brought little packets of Artisana coconut and almond butter. My Whole Foods store also had little servings of pistachio and macadamia nut butters made by Wildnerness Poets.

Navigating lunch and dinners was not as exciting as the chocolate stands, but most menus offered a wide range of entrees. For lunch, I mainly stuck with salads, and dinner was fish or meat, along with grilled vegetables topped with olive oil. My husband tried various pastas and pizzas in Italy. Everywhere around us at restaurants in Italy, people were eating their own individual pizzas–not small either, about 12″ in diameter. Have to admit they looked delicious, but I saw many wheat bellies all around me!

During one of our walking tours in Rome, I asked our guide whether they had a problem with obesity in Italy. She said there has been a huge increase in childhood obesity the past five years or so, since more moms are working and fewer people are making home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients. Junk food is more widely available. We saw a group of school kids in Rome sitting next to ancient ruins while on a field trip. I looked to see what they were eating and, sure enough, half the kids looked overweight and were eating huge bread-type sandwiches. I guess it’s not just an American problem.

I decided my leeway would be to have wine every night, which I only have when we go out to eat in America. I justified it by saying we were going out to dinner every night, after all, so why not? Besides, who can go to Tuscany and not try the local wine?

Three weeks was a long time to travel and behave while eating, but I felt no trouble keeping to Wheat Belly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the menu or to ask them to prepare an entree the way you’d like. Also, if you’ve followed the Wheat Belly way of eating for several weeks and are now a fat burner, you will have no trouble with excessive hunger. This makes it easy to avoid temptations. Freedom from hunger every few hours frees you: your mind is on your surroundings and how much you are enjoying them, not on your next meal or rumbling stomach.

I now know that I can go on other trips in the future and won’t come home a bloated whale! No Paris pastry pudge on this girl, thanks to Wheat Belly. By the way, I did not gain any weight, but my wheat eating husband gained 5 pounds from pasta and pizza. Thank you, Dr. Davis, for Wheat Belly. It followed me from Paris, to Milan, to Lake Como, to Venice, to Florence, and finally Rome. Now, I’m afraid, it’s time to get back to cooking!

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77 Responses to Wheat Belly does Europe!

  1. Cynthia says:

    I went on a hiking tour in France and Italy last fall for a week and had no problems avoiding wheat – I was worried that all the delicious bread options would be too difficult to pass up. No so. Every day each of us in the group would buy a picnic lunch for ourselves. I ate delicious cheese, sausage (though very salty), apples, plain yogurt, dark chocolate (85%) and nut mixes. In the evenings back in town, we’d eat at amazing local restaurants – I even managed to avoid eating a fondue by ordering a raclette dish instead – and I LOVE cheese fondue. the melted cheese over potatoes was to die for. All that hiking and fresh air and not a pound gained. Drank lots of wine too and never had a headache or feeling of a hangover (no sulfates?). It can be done!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Thanks for the confirmation, Cynthia!

    • Donna says:

      Cynthia,
      Great post! I am interested in the idea of sulfates in wine causing a hangover…In the states, I can easily feel hungover from just a few glasses of wine, whereas in France, I would wake up and feel completely normal. Interesting! Glad you stuck to avoiding wheat! It’s no great loss once you’re used to it and realize there are other delicious options!

  2. Baju Batik says:

    nice to meet you sir….

    Regards

  3. Jennifer says:

    It just goes to show that it can be done. Great post.

  4. JillOz says:

    Hi Dr Davis,

    Just curious, lots of people have by now lost a lot of weight on the Wheat Belly way of eating.

    Has anyone written or asked about loose skin, or skin that has not shrunk along with their waistline?
    Because that can be an issue, especially on The Biggest Loser type of shows.

    • Barbara says:

      Good comment Jill! I was wondering about the same thing. The loose skin seems to be the only drawback in my 5 months on WB diet. So far, I have lost 25 lbs. and feel wonderful. Now that the weather is nicer, I have been walking at least 1 mile per day and using weight exercises on my arms to “sculpt” them. Facial and neck skin need some shrinking too!

      Does anyone have any additional suggestions? Seems a shame to have gotten so many positive results only to look much older because of sagging skin. While my skin is much softer and has good color, it is the wrinkles and sagging that I want to help diminish ASAP!

      Am I not drinking enough water? Am I just impatient waiting for the skin to tighten?

      • HS4 says:

        I don’t know how well this works but you might want to look into facial acupressure. It can tighten facial muscles, make eyes appear larger (for those that need this!), reduce lines, etc… There are books on the techniques and if you google the phrase you’ll get a lot of hits, some with DIY instructions. I’ve only just started a few exercises and while I can say my face looks a little better each time I do the exercises I don’t know yet how long lasting they are or if they’ll help the chin/neck area.

      • JillOz says:

        There are actually herbs to help this. Gotu Kola is one of them, but you’d have to consult a naturopath or do some Internet digging on how to use it correctly, I looked it up years ago, and don’t remember the link.

        Good luck, and if you find some info please share here!

        • JillOz says:

          Barbara, yoga is also very good for this sort of thing, there are postures suitable for all sorts of conditions.

  5. JillOz says:

    Hi again Dr Davis!

    I found this article discussing the deifference between USA and European portion sizes:

    http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-03-14/europe/31162943_1_larger-portions-portion-sizes-french-supermarkets

    Interesting!

    • Wheatless in Seattle says:

      Jill, thanks for the link. I loved the comment…:approach food the way Pope Gregory‚Äôs glutton would: with pleasure-seeking abandon”. That’s how I approach my meals these days! I’m appropriately hungry at mealtimes, but not in between, and I know that I’m preparing tasty, healthy meals for myself and friends. Who wouldn’t enjoy all the delicious food from WB Cookbook?!? I don’t really consider portion sizes anymore. I just savor my food until I’m full. I’m pretty sure my portion sizes are smaller these days because of all the fat.

      • JillOz says:

        Excellent!! So nice to be able to savour food.

        I’m finding my sensitivity to hunger and fullness is gradually increasing, which I’m pleased about. Hope it develops further!

        (Still a bit sugar-freaky!)

  6. Denise says:

    I have been curious about loose skin as well. The best way to tighten loose skin is to drink lots of water, moisturize your skin and do some sort of resistance training exercises. I am hoping all that helps me as well as others. :-)

  7. Jennifer says:

    It’s really hard not to eat whatever you like during some nice holidays. Smell of crunchy bread…wow.

    • JillOz says:

      Just cos it smells nice doesn’t mean you have to eat it!! Enjoy the fragrance as you would a perfume. Take a good hearty sniff and bask in it!

  8. rainbow says:

    What a great post! I’ve always been afraid to travel in Europe, because I’m gluten free, now following South Beach while gluten free (so similar to Wheat Belly…I just ignore the limitations on saturated fats!)…now I’m afraid no more! Thank you for a wonderful post.

  9. Ondria says:

    Hi wheat-free people .. I’m an acupuncturist in Corvallis Oregon, and I am avid in seeking gluten free alternatives & lifestyle. Diet is a huge concern and often overlooked when it comes to illness & disease, and I am just so delighted to have discovered this site! In regard to the above comments on what to do, to help tighten loose skin from excessive weightloss – acupuncture/pressure, massage, strength-training can have a significant effect. Also … The ageLoc Galvanic Body Spa by Nuskin is PHENOMENAL for addressing loose skin/cellulite issues. It isn’t sold in stores, but directly from the company through distributors. There by, creating a one-one communication and support system. I just wanted to share what I have found that works wonders! Here is a link – http://www.ondria.nsproducts.com/Ageloc-galvanic-body-spa. Good luck to all on this journey to health and wellness!

  10. Rebecca Blankinship says:

    First of all your recipes are much too complicated for a woman that must work 8-10 hours a day, and second the ingredients are way beyond my affordability. Can’t any diet not include so much work and so much cost?