Remove wheat and other closely related grains, especially rye, barley, corn, and oats, and your taste perception changes: flavors become sharpened, more pronounced. It leads people to say such things as “I used to hate Brussels sprouts, but now I love them.” Or “I can no longer eat fast food because of the excessive sugar, salt, and synthetic flavors.”
Removing the taste distortions of wheat and grains also sharpens your sensitivity to sweetness, making formerly tasty, sugary treats sickeningly sweet. Many find that candy bars, soda, or sugar in their coffee become intolerable, so cloyingly sweet that they are inedible or undrinkable.
Combine these alterations in taste perception with removal of the factors in wheat and grains that increased appetite, and those of us following the Wheat Belly lifestyle have no problem avoiding sweets: we lose our desire for them and they taste awful when we eat them.
So when people contemplating the Wheat Belly lifestyle declare “My problem is not wheat or grains—it’s sweets!” they are failing to understand the taste-altering and appetite-reducing benefits of banishing wheat and grains from their lives. Having a persistent sweet tooth is distinctly uncommon after removing wheat and grains, though the effect may require several days to weeks to fully develop. The primary, driving problem is therefore not the sugars for most people; it’s the wheat and grains. Lose the wheat, lose the grains, lose desire for sweets.
I still recognize that an occasional lightly sweetened dessert or treat may be fun to have, or you need them to entertain company, enjoy a holiday dinner, or please the kids or grandkids—the social obligations you may have. This is why I provide recipes here and through the Wheat Belly cookbooks. I learned years ago that have this occasional option for indulgences to navigate social situations increased adherence and satisfaction with this program without risking re-exposure to the awful effects of wheat and grains.
However, if you are among the minority of people who have a sweet tooth persist even after you make the leap to being wheat- and grain-free, then consider this:
- Are you truly wheat/grain-free? Or are you continuing to be exposed to a grain component in, for instance, your nutritional supplements or prescription drugs that continues to stimulate appetite and distort taste?
- Are you still limiting fats and oils? If so, stop it! There is NO health advantage to limiting fats and oils. Use more butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and choose fatty cuts of meat and eat the fat. Never choose low- or non-fat dairy products. And if some of your oils are medium-chain triglycerides, MCTs, this will reduce your desire for sweets even more.
- Do you have small intestinal fungal overgrowth, SIFO? Fungi, such as Candida albicans, glabrata, and tropicalis, have the peculiar capacity to stimulate your appetite for sugar. It’s creepy to know that fungi have control over some aspects of the human mind and behavior. When fungi proliferate and ascend up the gastrointestinal tract–small intestinal fungal overgrowth—they can stimulate your desire for sweets, tricking you into consuming a food that they like to consume, since fungi thrive on sugars.
- Do you lack Lactobacillus reuteri in your intestinal microbiome and thereby have lower blood and brain levels of oxytocin? Recall that L reuteri is a microorganism that most people harbored in their intestinal microbiome up until the mid-twentieth century. Most modern people no longer have this species, part of the disaster of changes inflicted on bowel flora in twenty-first century life. Because L reuteri has the unique capacity to provoke hypothalamic release of oxytocin that is a powerful appetite suppressant, lacking L reuteri and thereby oxytocin may underlie a continuing desire for sweets. Remedy: make L reuteri yogurt.
You can appreciate that the Wheat Belly lifestyle is not just about banishing grains, nor limiting carbs or calories. Unlike a simple diet program, the Wheat Belly (and Undoctored) lifestyles take health and life several steps further for maximum health advantage.