How do we associate cause and effect? How do we KNOW when acid reflux, bowel urgency, depression, anxiety, asthma, joint pain and myriad other health complaints are due to consumption of modern wheat?
Simple: When you can turn them on, turn them off, turn them on, turn them off, repeatedly and at will. For instance, avoid wheat, enjoy freedom from bowel urgency and the inconvenient and embarrassing searches for the nearest toilet. Have wheat, explosive return of symptoms. On again, off again: It is the consistent association that establishes a cause-effect relationship in an individual.
Read the incredible descriptions from readers who have experienced regrettable “on-again” moments:
Back in April, I was helping serve meals at a retreat. I had prepared food to take with me, knowing the meal I was helping with was baked ziti, but I forgot to bring it along. I really had no options at that point, so I had a small dessert-sized bowl–of the ziti. Within two hours, my stomach bloated, I had heartburn and gas pains, and I felt like I was hit by a Mack truck. My reaction was a good lesson in being prepared and a strong defense against the temptation to take just one bite!
My hub was very skeptical. He joined me in wheat/gluten free as an experiment, but it took him getting ‘glutened’ on at least three occasions before he finally accepted he was better off without it!
If he gets inadvertently glutened he turns into ‘Attila the Hun’ for the best part of a week and is not nice to be around. Depression, anxiety, extreme irritability, frustration, pain and brain fog so thick you can cut it with a knife! I weep when I think of all the years he, I, and the kids had to cope with his moods and all the gluten-induced misery.
If I get glutened I don’t usually get the IBS-D I suffered with for 12 years prior to dumping the stuff (the diarrhoea stopped within hours!), but I do get revisited by the raging restless legs that was also a long-term issue. I am also still trying to rectify the damage to my body it caused all those years. After 5 years, I’m better, but still not totally fit and well.
I just hate it, and I hate what it does to people without them realising. I see the pain family members are in who won’t accept the wheat they consume may well be driving it, so great is the addiction.
Wow! I didn’t even connect this. Have been grain-free for a month, and had company this week — delicious Filipino food. Nose bleeds, appetite return with vengeance, weight gain, congestion, lethargy. Did not make the connection until now. Hopefully will be enough to make me politely decline next time.
I thought 1 tortilla couldn’t hurt after I’d been off grains for several months. My right hip (joint) hurt nonstop, throbbing for 4 days. Every time I have that thought, I recall those sleepless nights with that pain, and I can turn away.
I went wheat-free (and grain-free) in the fall of last year, as wheat caused me to have asthma problems and an asthma attack so severe that I was sent to the ER. I now strictly avoid all things wheat and wheat-facility contaminated, and am extremely vigilant about avoiding re-exposure. I have become more and more sensitive to wheat-exposure, as the slightest trace amount will cause almost instantaneous wheezing. Occasionally, I have eaten something that should be wheat-free, such as dates, only to find that they were processed in a facility that handles wheat products. Or, I have consumed a small amount of jam (which had dextrin in it–I had thought that ingredient was safe–apparently not.) It has come to the point where any food that has had contact with wheat at some point down the line will cause asthma for me. So, I rarely buy any packaged foods anymore, and instead bake and cook everything myself (eating out is absolutely out of the question, as something will inevitably have been contaminated.)
Oddly enough, hubby has developed re-exposure phenomena too, of the GI kind. He reluctantly went wheat free this spring when he heard me talking so much about it, and thought to give it a try. He honestly scoffed at first at all of the side effects I described to him about its consumption. However, he noticed that when he did eat something “wheaty,” he would suffer on the toilet. He eventually decided that it was definitely wheat causing his distress, and now he tries hard to avoid it. So, even skeptics, when they try eliminating it from their diet, will most likely find that wheat has been wreaking havoc on their health, unbeknownst to them, and will find themselves better off without it.
With me it is rage first, then extreme depression. The level of depression ranges from just down to homicidal/suicidal so we don’t eat anywhere but at home these days. It just isn’t worth it. I also don’t lick envelopes any more, ever.
A very timely post for me. I did an intentional “Awwww, how much could it hurt?” when I devoured a couple spinach wheat wraps earlier in the week after being wheat free for almost a year and a half. Oh man, it hurt a LOT. My asthma flared up and OMGosh (knee and wrist) joint pain returned with vengeance, making my morning runs very difficult. It took me a couple days for the light bulb to turn on but after I figured out what it was, I am sworn off wheat again–FOREVER. Wow! I read the book and it warns of this, but I guess I didn’t take it as serious as it really is. Now, almost a week later, the pain has subsided and my asthma much improved, but my memory won’t forget this “wake up call”.
OMG I had 3 x sourdough rye slices + 1/4 apple pie on the weekend at my boyfriend’s. That night I had this dry cough similar to asthma. I thought it was the cold night air and his relative’s smoking. Then the next day (Sunday) I had a progressively worsening migraine. I woke this morning with the same migraine PLUS a nosebleed PLUS diarrhea. I never get nosebleeds! Admittedly, I have been (in the last few weeks) sneaking a little biscuit or two with my coffee, but after reading your post I’m thinking that the nosebleed has come directly from the toast and apple pie PLUS the build up of biscuit wheat in the last few weeks. Normally I’m very strict with my diet and I only eat white rice or potatoes and NEVER grains, and I’ve been so well and so energetic.
I’m determined now to never do this again to myself!
This is a noteworthy post for newcomers to the WB lifestyle because re-exposure symptoms can range from unpleasant to debilitating.
When I’m inadvertently glutened, my first indication is that my nose starts running like a faucet, later followed by gastric issues, neither of which I find pleasant!
I have been wheat free for about a year and half. Last summer I was at a party where I was absolutely vigilant about what I ate. One of the appetizers was salmon on a skewer. I thought perfect. High protein and wheat free!
The next morning when I got out of bed I could hardly move because my joints were so stiff. My hips were aching and I knew that I had inadvertently ingested wheat.
A month later when I was making the said salmon skewers for my own party I happened to read the label on the soy sauce. WHO knew there is wheat in soy sauce. Culprit identified and wheat free soy sauce sourced!
I gave up wheat and other high carb foods about 18 months ago. Yesterday I had meatloaf that was made with whole wheat crackers. Within minutes, I was flushed, sweating profusely and having trouble breathing. This lasted for about 30 minutes and then eased off. Everything else in the meatloaf I had eaten often since I started my new lifestyle except the wheat. (p.s. I’ve lost 77 pounds!!)
Yep: That’s exactly what happens to me when I get glutenized, every last one of the symptoms mentioned, and it takes me a very long time to get back on track from the food cravings being so severe. Crazy! It does seem that the attacks from re-exposure are so much worse than what I was experiencing before going gluten-free.
Last year before I read Wheat Belly and went wheat free, I was on a low carb diet, (salads, naked juices, cheese, meat) but no breads or starches. Then a few weeks into it, not even realizing I was wheat free, I ate a large plate of spaghetti. A few hours later and for 2 to 3 days I was running to the bathroom and washing clothes more than once. I did not know what this was till several months later when I was reading Wheat Belly. I am now very careful and read all the labels. Soo scared that this could happen again if I don’t. Soo comfortable now that I am wheat free, I’ll never go back to that garbage.
We’re all grain free now and feeling so much better, but we all have Deja ewww stories!
I went gluten free in March of 2005. That August we were cleaning out my parents-in-law’s house in a hurry to put it on the market. After a very long day, I took my son, who was not yet gluten free, through a KFC drive through and got him some chicken and potatoes. In a moment of sheer delusion, I grabbed a spoonful of potatoes with gravy, then spent the next five days having severe GI symptoms, respiratory symptoms, a migraine, muscle and joint pain, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. It’s a wonder I survived the constant state of those symptoms and more for years before that. And it’s amazing that I didn’t do anything drastic during so many years of feeling so very, very miserable.
My oldest child always had fewer GI symptoms than others of us, and when she accidentally eats gluten she becomes depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, antisocial, and irritable, plus she gets a little sore throat, burning eyes, and puffs up a little. And she has nightmares. Luckily this doesn’t happen often, and it usually lasts for 3 to 5 days. My youngest, though not a celiac, suffers for MONTHS afterward. GI symptoms, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, head aches. Several times she’s barely gone to school for an entire spring semester after some gluten fiasco around Christmas or after the new year, even some minute and totally accidental ingestion.
During the first year I was grain free I thought I’d just try a little organic cornmeal to see what would happen. Toasted some in a pan, added a little honey, and just ate a little bit. Had diarrhea for five days and took two weeks to recover.
After being wheat free for about a week, I ate some German licorice wheels I saw in the store. They reminded me of home, so I couldn’t resist buying a bag. I really didn’t think that wheat would be in there, so I devoured the bag during the evening hours. The next morning I woke up with stomach cramps and resulting diarrhea. I couldn’t figure out where this sudden belly issue is coming from since no one else in my family was sick. I checked the licorice bag, and sure enough, it contained wheat flour!
I get severe arthritic pain in my hands with wheat exposure. There may be other things happening but that pain is too distracting to notice them. I have had three hamburger buns in the last 1.5 years and it happened every time. Makes me wonder what else may be going on.
I just got back from Vegas, where I did my best to avoid anything that looked like it could contain wheat, but was obviously exposed. I sneezed a lot while there, and now am dealing with what will hopefully only be about a week of depressive/suicidal thoughts. My brain is a complete mess with constant anxiety and worry about the tiniest things. I have linked corn to the anxiety as well, as it has an almost exact gluten protein. Without the wheat, I am happy and calm, take away any corn derivative and I am calmer than I ever thought l possible for someone like me who seemed to just be anxious by nature.
I was wheat free for exactly 7 days when I decided to eat a sub. BIG MISTAKE. Within an hour, I started sneezing pretty much non-stop. Within a couple of hours, I thought I was getting a head cold. I was still sneezing and my nose was running. 5 hours later, I was so congested, I literally could not breathe without my mouth being open. I had the worst headache / sinus pain of my life. No amount of over the counter medicine would bring relief, and I am surprised I didn’t OD on something. It was that bad.
I seriously do not ever remember being sick like that before. It lasted 2 days before I could breathe normally again with “just” regular cold symptoms. It took a week before I was back to normal. Never again. I am not exaggerating when I say I really wanted to cut my own head off – it was that bad.
I’ve been basically wheat free for almost 2 years now. Just got back from vacation and my husband made cookies (he bought the dough from the dance team who was selling it door to door). In a moment of weakness, I had a couple – well maybe a few more than a couple, and ended up with a bad headache for 2 days and felt so depressed I didn’t want to do anything.
Thankfully I feel better now, but it was a sure fire reminder of what I felt like before Wheat Belly came into my life!