London Belly

People successfully navigate a wheat-free lifestyle while at home. But what about while traveling?

We’ve heard from many readers how they have traveled different parts of the world. It can take some effort, but most people have found they can travel safely with minimal to no inadvertent wheat exposure.

Pictured is a meal I recently had in a small restaurant featuring Argentinian cuisine in the Westminster area of London, England. I enjoyed several meals over the course of a week and had no problem whatsoever in avoiding wheat. Yes, it was offered in the form of dinner rolls, cookies and scones, and the many other familiar forms, but avoiding the obvious and hidden sources proved relatively easy and little different from navigating wheat landmines in North America. Stopping in several London pubs along the way, I enjoyed an occasional glass of Stella Artois lager, a wheat-free beer (but not necessarily gluten-free). (Pubs typically now offer substantial lists of open bottles of wine, too, if you wish to be absolutely gluten-free, as well.)

In the countryside, I saw many fields of closely-spaced stalks of wheat. As harvest time is drawing near, most fields stood the expected 18 or so inches high, representing the semi-dwarf creation of genetics research.

London, by the way, has no shortage of wheat bellies. While the population of the city are surprisingly youthful, I spied many, many overweight people among the crowds (and, yes, speaking with English accents).

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Bernadette

    I am just starting wheat free diet, i have IBS and need to correct this condition. I will be travelling to Florida in November so i do hope that by then i will be ok. I will need to pick restaurent that serves a lot of vegetable, fruit , fish meat and wheat free food.
    I am really looking forward to having a normal life and not a life that is arrange around IBS

  2. Drae

    When I want to enjoy a wheat and gluten free adult beverage, I enjoy hard cider. They are growing in popularity so there is a wide variety from which to choose. One of my favorite ciders is from England but today I’ll be drinking American cider. Happy Independence Day, Dr. Davis and to all my fellow Americans!

    • Hard ciders are delicious but so loaded with sugar that I doubt Dr. Davis would recommend them. I used to be a Woodchuck man but gave it up when I started following Wheat Belly.

      • Merlin

        There are good and bad ciders. Many have caramel colour, which is often made from wheat. I found a brand here in Canada which is made without any additives. It has 11 grams of carb (all sugars) for the entire 500ml can. I like it as an occasional treat; most of the time I stick to red wine. As with so many other things, you must always read the labels!

        • Andrew

          Has anyone tried Nickel Brook’s Gluten-Free beer? It’s made without wheat and uses Demerara Sugar and Pear juice as a sweetener. Beer is the only thing I miss about going WF. THANKS.

  3. stephen ottridge

    Dr Davis Are you strictly on vacation or are you imparting Wheat Belly axioms to the British public?

  4. Mary

    That’s great! My husband & I will be traveling around Ireland and Scotland in a month and I’m hoping that avoiding wheat/gluten won’t be too difficult for me! I’m glad that the UK is catching on to the wheat-free way of life!

    On a side note, I wanted to post this here as opposed to on facebook, since anyone can see the posts on facebook. My aunt saw my activity on the WB page and went into this whole thing about how she doesn’t believe in getting rid of wheat, she thinks this is just a repackaging of the Atkins diet, low carbs made her depressed when she tried it, she lost so much weight on Weight Watchers when she added in whole grains, blah blah blah. Oh, and she thinks I’m being super restrictive and that I should be careful because these sorts of diets can lead to eating disorders. As if! I love eating too much to become an anorexic! I now have heavy cream in my coffee and eat a lot of peanut butter and cheese every day… there is so much fat in my diet, she’d probably be stunned if she knew. Ha. I am definitely not restricting myself in any way other than not eating wheat.

    It was annoying, to say the least. To begin with, she’s gained back about 30 of the lbs she lost on WW & is now overweight (she was obese when she went on WW). She’s convinced that being overweight/obese is genetic and there’s no real way to fight it. She also says sugar, not wheat, is the real culprit of obesity (not that I disagree and think sugar is good, but wheat is the worst offender). I’m not going to preach to people who aren’t interested in finding out the truth, but I know that her re-gaining the weight is definitely in part caused by her consumption of “healthy whole grains.” One thing she asked me is if I was doing this for weight loss or health. I said both, but mainly health. Weight loss would be a nice bonus. I am 5’8 and 147 lbs, so I could definitely stand to lose weight since I have a small frame, but to her mind, I don’t really need to lose weight. Umm…! Okay, I had to get that off my chest! Thanks for indulging me!

    • Doug

      Hi Mary,

      Try going to one of those websites with the caloric calculators and figure out what your intake really is. With all my new fat intake I was around 3800 per day. A number like that usually leaves the doubters perplexed. It calls into question everything they believe about calorie in/ calorie out.

      I’ve been on the WB for 10 months now and I’m comfortably situated at my natural set point weight wise so anytime someone says I’m not eating enough I throw out the 3800 number and that ends the conversation pretty fast. Some people start asking how and then I start with the WB lifestyle. It’s also a good way to gauge the people ready to try something new verses those hopelessly still plugged into the matrix.

      Happy Independence Day to all our American friends.

      • jimmy

        “I’ve been on the WB for 10 months now and I’m comfortably situated at my natural set point weight wise so anytime someone says I’m not eating enough I throw out the 3800 number and that ends the conversation pretty fast.”

        Doug that is a good reply for someone. I will try that the next time. Thanks.

    • Christina

      Recently someone replied to my comments about eliminating wheat saying that “a nuts a berries diet nearly killed” him. Um…I eat meat, veggies, full fat cheese, sweet potatoes and even rice and ice cream on occasion (I know). At a typical meal most people wouldn’t even notice me push the croutons off the salad or not touch the bread (although a bunless burger often catches someone’s attention).

      I usually just tell people, “I’ve lost 50lbs, have relatively more energy, can fast for a whole day, and am no longer called “lady burp” as I was in college.” At which point they say “glad that works for you!”

      Only problem is that I know something else is wrong since I still have bad acne and lots of fatigue.

      • Barbara in New Jersey

        Your body is still reacting to something. Try not having any sweet potato or ice cream or other high carb food. Only for maybe 3 days to a week. Then try perhaps some of the fruit you may be eating. Then any grain. Eggs. Go through your diet food groups one group at a time until your acne clears up. Make sure you drink enough water and take the supplements Dr. D. recommends. If you have lost 50 lbs, then your energy should be improving. Read about thyroid problems on this blog. Skin conditions. People are reporting excellent results with eating homemade bone broth. Remember, it takes about a week to recover from high carb glycemic intake and sweets (sweet potato, ice cream, etc.). Acne usually results from a high glycemic intake. You might wish to monitor your blood sugar.

        Depending on your condition before you started WB and how long you have been eating this way, you may just have to give your body more time. The Magnesium supplements are particularly helpful to increase energy.

        To allay your fears that eliminating wheat might kill you, just keep reading this blog.
        A nuts and berries diet really has to include a few more food groups to be healthy.
        This WB way of eating includes most food groups, only eliminating grains. I just can’t remember reading anything about people getting sicker when they eliminate grains and sugars.

        • The acne could be from rosacea…so diet maybe wouldn’t be the answer as the “jury” is out on what causes those flares. As for fatigue…I have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia…the person who expressed they have fatigue didn’t mention he might have some auto-immune issues—I just want to say that fatigue will go with those. I have a fatigue that some days I just need to sit and be quiet, maybe even a nap. It’s not the kind where I didn’t go to bed early enough—only way I can explain it is “I felt this way when I was pregnant!” or similar anyway. Guys wouldn’t know about that though. LOL I’ve been on WB now since mid-Feb. so nearly 6 months. I want to be on it a year to see if it takes that long for some of my auto-immune affects have simmered down a bit. I’m in this for the long-haul…so will keep checking back for my positive affirmation that this is the “real deal”.

          • unterderlaterne

            Elizabeth,
            I have RA too, so I understand how you are feeling! I sleep very well with my 1/2 dozen pillows of different sizes to support my joints, it truly looks funny.
            But as you, I wake up so tired that only the thought of my delicious coffee gets me out of bed. That first hour in the morning is hell because of stiffness and pain,as you know..
            When I started this diet my joint pain was reduced for a while, but the relief was of short. duration. Dr. Davis mentioned that it will take more than just a few months!
            If I only could have more energy! But unfortunately that comes with the RA. I wish you better days! Barbara.

          • Dr. Davis

            Please note that, with RA, it is very common to have a second autoimmune conditions, namely Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This can lead to hypothyroidism and low energy.

            NEVER accept “your thyroid is fine” from the doctor; you want a full assessment of TSH, free T3, free T4, and reverse T3 and you want all parameters in the ideal range.

    • Mary

      Thanks for all the positive comments, everyone! I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this, even if I can’t really talk about it with anyone other than my mom and husband!

  5. Leanne

    Dr Davis (or Boundless!),

    Very happy with going WB. One question for you:
    - does combining a low net carb item lower (a bit) a higher net carb item? For example, prior to WB, last summer I would have homemade greens drinks – fresh organic spinach or mixed lettuces with water and ice but with organic mango and/or organic pineapple (each of which have high net carb counts). I am not quite there yet to do the reading prior to drinking this and an hour after but probably should. But in general, I would appreciate knowing if our bodies respond positively or negatively to this type of combining – low net carb with high net carb. Thanks.

    • > … does combining a low net carb item lower (a bit) a higher net carb item?

      You can measure your blood sugar response and get the real answer, but I’ll be happy to indulge in amateur armchair endocrinology for you :).

      I’m going to say: no
      The net carbs are the net carbs.
      They add up, period.

      There’s a related notion that some dietary advocates advance, and that’s the idea that adding fat to carbs lowers the glycemic effect of those carbs. I don’t buy this or practice it. My conjecture is that the fat may slightly slow the uptake of the net carbs, but they will still be uptaken.

      The concept of “net carbs”, by the way, strikes me as just a [very] useful rule of thumb. What really matters is blood sugar levels, and if they really matter (such as with keto management of T1D or epilepsy), then you measure.

  6. My husband and I did a month long holiday last year – three nights in Rome, a 12 night cruise and then a week at Lake Garda. We both lost weight over that month! We found it just so easy to choose foods that were good for us. In Italy all we had to do was skip the pasta course and on the cruise ship there was so much great food to choose from we were not even interested in the other foods. One thing though we didn’t stress if there was flour in a sauce etc – this was a holiday, not a controlled medical experiment. Use your gut instinct on holiday and don’t beat yourself up if you do eat something that might not be 100%.

    • Dr. Davis

      Weight loss on 12-day cruise? That’s incredible and so counter to the prevailing experiences, eh?

      • Heather

        Lynda,
        Your experience mimics my own! I have lost weight( and Inches) on EVERY vacation I have been on since starting Wheat Belly 18 months ago! I have enjoyed wonderful food, seafood, meats, lots(& lots) of wine, and I come home with clothes sagging. Truly amazing way of life.

    • Dr. Davis

      I was, but I’m back. My daughter lost in the first round, so I only went for a day.

        • wrotek

          LOL I almost forgot. What is her exact name ? My father watches this stuff all the time. I never could teach myself to like watching sport on tv, but I play a little bit of tennis myself

  7. Stephen in London, UK

    Hi Dr Davis,

    Good to hear your over in the UK and wish nothing more than to say that your right in that there are many people with the typical wheat belly around and about. I’ve been what some around would call a ‘beer monster’ in that I’ve consumed vast amounts of beer and lager from the age of 18 until my current age of 29. Not to add, kebabs, burgers, chips, pizzas etc. The point is that I’ve slowly been adding the pounds (maybe the odd stone here and there) since I turned 18 and alas have tried many a diet in the meantime to try and loose the weight I’ve been adding (typically the low fat diet method).
    Since reading your book along side a number of other similar low carb wheat free books and documentary/films I’ve managed to drop from 16 stone 6 lb to the surprising weight of 5 stone 8 lbs. Some might read this and think ‘that’s not a lot’ but trust me, from the point of view of someone who’s tried everything, to loose almost a stone in weight is a miracle seeing as I’ve been eating some of my favorite foods in the meantime!

    Enjoy your time in London, England and the rest of the UK! If your free for a beer, let me know (I’ll make sure its a low carb wheat free variety).

  8. Marci

    I travel to Sweden regularly. Due to a higher incidence of celiac disease in the Scandinavian population, all restaurants are familiar with gluten free requests [glutin fris]. Of course, you don’t have to eat the gluten substitute items they may offer.

  9. Lois

    Dr. Davis, I’m so happy to hear that Stella is a wheat-free beer! The only other common one that I remember seeing in your book was Bud Light, not my favorite. Are there any other well-known beers that are wheat-free? What about the Belgian beers?
    Thank you! Now, I can drink beer with my friends.

    • Dr. Davis

      Michelob Ultra is another and very low-carb (though beer aficionados also say low-flavor).

      Green and Bards are two gluten-free brands, but a bit carby.

      • Omission Beer (http://omissionbeer.com/) is also claiming GF, with reservations. Note: their mobile web site is useless.

        I had one yesterday. Tasted like real beer. No obvious ill effects. No NF on the bottle, but they claim 15 grams carb on their web site (which, as with the other GF beers, is your entire meal’s net carbs). The beer is made from barley, so it could have other wheat-like problems depending on the strains.

  10. George Wilson

    Next time in London you might try Gordon Ramsey’s in the Claridge in Mayfair. At the start of the evening they asked about allergies/sensitivities. I said I was gluten sensitive. They steered me to choices that could be made gluten free and even prepared special gluten free between course tidbits. Pricey but very nice.

  11. Anne

    Hi-would love some help if possible.
    I live in South East Asia, and food labels are not printed in English. Health foods/Gluten free foods are not available here at this time. And, obviously, rice/stir fried foods are the mainstay-as well as the “high sugar” fruits.

    I can get fresh veggies, some nuts, etc., but am looking for suggestions on how to avoid “hidden” wheat added in to products. Being that I can’t read the labels-does anyone have advice as to what to be aware of with regard to packaged foods? All help is appreciated.

    • Dr. Davis

      I believe your best protection, Anne, given the peculiar circumstances of no ingredient lists, is to, as often as possible, confine yourself to choosing real, single ingredient foods: meats, fish, poultry, eggs, olive oil, vegetables, fruits, coconut, avocado, and perhaps the few packaged foods you come to trust.

  12. ellemiek

    Hello, I often have to fly long distances for my work. these flights often included one or two meals. I have tried special meals but I’m not really sure what is the safest option if I want wheat free, and preferably low carb. I have tried diabetic meals, they are often worse then the normal meals ( although its better then pasta at least). Should I try the gluten free or will this just give me a lot of potatoes?

    • Dr. Davis

      Flying is very tough. I’ve been served meals where you could just barely nibble around the edges.

      The key is to NOT expect food that is safe and edible on the airplane. If you get something safe, be grateful, but don’t expect it.