I asked Wheat Belly follower and success story, Steph, to share some of her wheat-free experience:
Steph: I had tried a “controlled carb” diet years ago and had some success. Of course, still eating carbs and wheat, it was pretty impossible to stay with this type of eating, especially since eating wheat just makes me lust for more carbs! Once I got interested in what Wheat Belly had to say about how eating wheat makes us want MORE, I had to read the whole thing. Once I did, I thought that the easiest way for me to see for myself was to try it. I went cold turkey on July 2, 2012 and followed the limited/unlimited/forbidden list exactly. I started dropping weight the very first week.
WB: Have you experienced any improvements in health?
Steph: Have I!?
I lost 70 lbs in less than a year, my blood pressure normalized, my chronic toe-joint pain (hallux limitus) is gone, my sciatic twinges went away. I dropped from a size 22 to a size 12. I wear clothes that don’t even have an X in the size anymore! This is epic!
I don’t feel bloated after eating, and my chronic loose bowels normalized. All of my blood lipid numbers normalized and are now in the “ideal” or “normal” range. The first thing that struck me about the change in eating was the way I started to NOT CARE about eating the carbs. I didn’t think about eating all the time, I didn’t clap my hands in anticipation of going out to lunch. I refused the bread basket when I went out to eat a salad, and I DIDN’T CARE! The change in my mindset about food and eating was the most surprising thing and one of the first things I noticed. This is the one thing I feared about making such a big change in eating the exact things that I loved so much–I feared that I would spend the rest of my life struggling to resist the carbs. So when I realized this was not going to be the case, I was extremely happy!
WB: Can you describe some of your favorite wheat-free foods that help you navigate this lifestyle?
Steph: I enjoy a lot of cheese, meat, including fish dredged in almond flour and different herbs, tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, vegetables, salads, avocados, anything involving coconut, lots of yogurt with nuts (and some reduced-sugar jam mixed in), I LOVE the Wheat Free Market foods muffin mixes, and I eat a lot of pasta sauce or pesto with meat but I just put it over zucchini instead of pasta. (At first I was trying to “noodle” it with a spiral vegetable slicer, but now don’t even bother. Who cares what shape it is? Sliced rounds of zucchini work in place of pasta just as well as “zoodles.”)
My girlfriend is also wheat-free and we discovered how much we love making “chips” out of grated pepper-jack cheese. We eat these like crazy and use them to dip or to eat with goat cheese. Another favorite recipe is making meat lasagna with lengthwise strips of zucchini and eggplant in place of lasagna noodles. Our favorite breakfast is Greek yogurt with nuts and chia seeds, sometimes hemp seeds, and some jam. We also have fun ordering all the “froofie” coffee drinks at our favorite coffee place, and ask for them with “all the fat but sugar-free!”
I have been wheat-free for 14 months (with occasional bite-size backtracking). I was not gluten-sensitive in the sense that it would cause me pain or a lot of discomfort. So there have been times since I have quit wheat that I did eat some forbidden foods, telling myself “Oh, just a little bit just this once,” like a little bit of naan at the Indian restaurant, or cake at someone’s birthday party. There have also been periods where I slacked off on my carb-carefulness (like eating too many rice and beans, or eating corn, or getting too much frozen yogurt). While I do notice a more bloated feeling when I bring grains back into my diet, the biggest problem for me is that the old eating mindset comes back. It makes it much harder for me to wait until I’m truly feeling HUNGRY to eat.
I also am at the point where I realize I am NOT going to lose the last 20 lbs or so of weight I want to lose without regular exercise, which is what I’m starting on this week: a running class with my girlfriend! We feel really good about how we are improving our health, and quitting wheat was the catalyst to all of it. I shudder to think how much wheat I was eating before. Now I shudder to think about going back to my old ways. Wheat is just not worth it!