To this day people are still dumbfounded that I don’t eat wheat (99% of the time). I hear responses like “well, what do you eat then”? and “so you don’t eat sandwiches”? These are ridiculous questions considering the vast array of food options that offer much more nutritional value and even more convenience than your average GMO laden dwarf wheat produced sandwich. While I agree that “Our ancestors have been eating wheat for thousands of years” the wheat that someone ate in 1920 has changed drastically to compensate for our generation’s demand of this convenient grain. I’ve read the book Wheat Belly and while I think it is a good book, it speaks a lot of technical terms and although I now know wheat causes blood sugar to increase (more than a sugar filled snickers bar) and also causes a reaction in the brain similar to that of heroin, I cannot talk the proper reasoning behind it and therefore people don’t believe me. So, you can borrow my book and maybe you can explain it to me. In super short terms it explains how wheat causes brain fog, cravings, a bloated belly, high cholesterol, heart disease, crippling arthritis, digestive problems and degenerative disease. No thank-you.
Years ago I found a book called “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” (my brother in law is somewhere rolling his eyes while he reads this) and without even knowing my blood type I began to read the book. It made sense but then again I openly admit that I believe everything I read. After reading the book I guessed that I was a blood type O – the universal donor and the most picky diet in the book, 4 months later I found out I was right! Blood Type O. My blood type showed reactions to corn, wheat, dairy, pork (every blood type has pork on the avoid list, one day bacon may kill us all), potatoes, and even mushrooms. These big ticket items are staples in the everyday diet of most people and most people are blood type O. At the time I was eating a Tim Horton’s bagel and drinking a double double for breakfast every morning, while I enjoyed this breakfast, my body didn’t and I was topping the scale at around 225 pounds. I was 24, very overweight and admittedly very unhappy. I decided to try and cut down and then hopefully eliminate wheat from my diet, a decision that was hands down life changing for me. Cutting down on wheat is not easy as most of us were raised on it and for the first little while I ate copious amounts of salad. After a while though you start to cook stir frys, steaks with steamed vegetables, chicken no-noodle soups, more elaborate salads and egg scrambles with tons of veggies. You learn that leftovers are your best friend so that you don’t spend 95% of your time in the kitchen. I’ll admit we have a well stocked pyrex drawer in the kitchen. I try to steer clear of tupperware and ziploc containers unless I’m eating a salad out of them as they aren’t microwave friendly – but if you are like me and can only work on one vice at a time – work on the wheat, the tupperware can be a battle for another day.
Now, the cool part, the changes I saw from cutting down on wheat.
#1 – My brain was sharper – I could make quicker decisions and felt like a fog had been removed from my head
#2 – My body was getting smaller – now part of the book also stated that Blood Type O needs 45 minutes of fairly intense cardio 4-5 times a week so with the wheat cut back I was also riding my mountain bike a lot, yes I believe this helped but to see the bloat in my stomach go down drastically was proof that it was food related.
#3 – I wasn’t getting headaches as much. When I was younger I used to suffer from migraines, I can honestly say I haven’t had one for at least 5 years. I do get headaches once in a blue moon and probably will continue to since I love my red wine
#4 – My mood improved. I stopped taking the anti-depressants I had been on for 7 years! I will admit I would do anything to have those 7 years back without those pills and just worked on improving my diet and exercise, but the past is the past and that’s a whole other subject. After cutting down on wheat (and committing to an regular exercise regime) I genuinely felt happier.
So my advise to anyone who wants to start cutting down on wheat is this – START SLOW! It can be very overwhelming changing something in a diet, people tend to panic and wind up overdosing on almonds causing they don’t have wheat in them (I speak from experience)
#1 – For the first week depending on how many servings of wheat you eat in a day, try replacing just one of your meals with something else. If you have toast for breakfast try replacing it with a piece of fruit. If you have a sandwich for lunch try and replace it with a salad (very simple take all the stuff you would have stuffed between two slices of bread, double it, and put it in a bowl). If you regularly have pasta, fajitas with wheat tortillas, or grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner try making a big stir fry with chicken or shrimp. Or try making spaghetti squash with meat sauce. The key is planning, if you have a family I can understand this being hard but ask your kids which vegetables they like and keep some cut up in the fridge for easy access.
#2 – If you have a scale weigh yourself at the end of your first week of cutting down on wheat and see if it made a difference, for some people it can take 3 weeks to see a difference but most people see a decrease in weight with a decrease in wheat – funny weight and wheat have a lot of similar letters – coincidence????
#3 – Tell your friends what you are trying to do – maybe they will get on board! A good friend will support your decision, if they eat a bagel in front of you and go “mmmmm this bagel is so good” please kick them for me! If you are meeting a friend for lunch maybe you can try new salads together! Make sure to tell the restaurant to hold the garlic bread that usually comes with every salad because if you are anything like me and they bring that toast out its getting eaten
#4 – Pay attention to your mood, energy level and sleep pattern. How do you feel if you have tacos in a lettuce wrap (see previous post) for dinner instead of a big plate of pasta? How do you sleep after? I would recommend getting a food diary and tracking what you eat in a week, track your sleep, how do you feel in the morning and how were your energy levels in the early afternoon? If you want some help with the diet you can message me what you eat in a couple days and I can help make some healthy swaps of this for that. If you know your blood type even better!
So to recap, I firmly believe wheat is putting a strain on our society’s health but it’s got the market cornered with its promise of convenience and tradition. At this exact moment that you are reading this if you don’t feel like you are the happiest, healthiest, best-sleeping, fittest version of yourself I would strongly recommend trying to cut back on your wheat intake. It’s not too late to ask for a wheat-free or gluten-free cookbook for Christmas – chances are the man in your life hasn’t started shopping, hurry!