Those of us living in this magnificent Wheat-Free Zone have been hearing incredible tales of freedom from eating disorders. Remember TJ’s story of her release from lifelong bulimia?
Michele tells this story of her release from the binge-eating bonds of wheat and its appetite-stimulating hold over her life.
I have to write. When I read the post from TJ, the woman who suffered from bulimia and various forms of eating disorders for years, I totally related. My first diet started when I was 12 years old. I was not overweight, but my mom and dad always warned me that, if I kept eating the way I was eating, I was going to be fat. My dad said Omar the tentmaker would have to make my clothes. That first diet ended within a couple days with a binge.
“My first ‘successful’ diet happened when I was 17 years old. I went from 126 pounds at 5 feet 3 to 85 pounds. I was emaciated and felt fat. I would writhe in pain at night as my body ached with cramps and hunger pains. I lasted about 2 years like this. Then I went off to college and discovered laxatives. My roommate chose vomiting. I was not that ‘lucky’ to be able to vomit. At my worst I took 100 laxatives and ended up in an eating disorder unit for 6 weeks. When I got out of the eating disorder unit I knew absolutely no more than I did going into it about how to prevent myself from binging. I spent the next 27 years thinking about food every single day and how ‘this would be the day I would successfully diet and not binge.’ But every single day ended up in another binge. Binges could get as bad as several donuts, pizza, pretzels, cookies–anything I could get my hands on.
“Over the years I tried every diet known to man. I spent many hours in counseling. Each counselor told me that, if I would resolve the abuse of my past, then the binging would go away. Somehow I knew this was not true. You see I am making strides in my life from painful childhood and abusive marriage. However, the consistent part is that I kept on binging. After each of my three babies I abstained from binging long enough to get the weight off. However, in recent years I ballooned up to 160. This is much too much on my frame. I was at my wit’s end. I knew I was addicted to something. I have been a slave to food for so many years. I felt if only I could stop eating altogether, like an alcoholic who abstains altogether from alcohol.
“I recently was online and stumbled upon Wheat Belly. I downloaded it to my Audible app. I listened and listened, again and again. I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’ I need to try to give up wheat and see if my urge to binge improves.
“Well, after exactly 5 weeks, I can tell you that, for the first time in my life, I have gone to bed for the past 3 weeks without dying for food. Without obsessing and scheming to get food. Last night I went to bed and had not eaten since 5 pm. This is unheard of for me. I have always–and I mean always–had late-night binges.
I have lost 6 pounds. I am no longer bloated. I am no longer having a daily stomache and headache. I am most excited about the fact that I have discovered that I am truly addicted to wheat and I can eliminate a ‘food’ and not food as a whole and live as a normal human being. I could never understand how people could push away from the table. I get it now. I am very thankful to you for writing this book.”
“I have been wheat-free for almost 8 weeks now.
“Still no night time cravings. I have now lost 10 pounds. I just found that my triglycerides are 73 and my HDL 45. My overall cholesterol is down to 207 (which it was when I was 22 years old. It was around 245 in my 40’s.) My LDL is 150 and my VLDL is 14.
“When I was addicted to wheat like a crack addict, I might have seemed lazy by my body size. However, I have always worked out. I have always been on one diet or another. It was part of my eating disorder. I have ran marathons. It did not matter. Until I eliminated the ‘crack,’ I was never going to lose weight. I only believe it because I tried it and for the first time in my life I have FREEDOM.”
People with eating disorders—binge eating in Michele’s case and bulimia in TJ’s case–are the extreme end of the spectrum. Most of us do not endure 24-hour a day food obsessions, nor have we had to suffer the emotional swings and turmoil to the degree Michele and TJ have. By eating modern wheat, we have some of this experience—but not as bad. You may experience it as the hunger at 9 a.m. after a full breakfast at 7 a.m. Or the need to snack just 2 hours after a full dinner. Or the nighttime cravings that make you regret eating an entire bag of potato chips.
The gliadin opiate in wheat binds to the opiate receptors of the brain and thereby stimulates appetite, much as other opiates do but without the pain-relieving or euphoric effect . . . “just” appetite stimulation. And, in people susceptible to the effect, it triggers eating disorders that can be physically and emotionally crippling.
The cure for many is simple.