wheat-free

I’m going wheat-free for the next two weeks.

No, I don’t have an allergy, nor am I jumping on the low-carb band wagon.  I’m simply experimenting.

I recently read Wheat Belly, by William Davis, as part of the Western New York Dietetics Association’s book club.  The group was actually started by a friend who is a senior in the dietetics program at Buff State, and she invited me to join in.  I’m not a member of the WNYDA yet, but I’m sure I will be once I actually some initials after my name 😉

Anyway, I loved the idea of a book club exploring the latest and greatest fad diets, since as ‘food and nutrition experts,’ we need to be informed about what our patients and clients are reading.  About 15 of us met at a local juice bar in Buffalo–about half current dietetics students and half RDs–to discuss the book.

I’ll be honest–there wasn’t a lot of positives to talk about in the book.  (Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble.)  In short, the book was an attack on modern day wheat and Dr. Davis (who is a cardiologist) asserts that it can be blamed for just about every ailment known to man.  Have acne?  It’s wheat’s fault.  Diabetes?  Definitely wheat, not those jelly beans.  Obesity?  For sure it’s your wheat bread intake that’s making you fat.

While the book appeared to be well-researched, it really wasn’t, yet Dr. Davis’s charismatic language and fear-inducing claims are sure to hook gobs of people looking for a quick fix for weight-loss or various gastrointestinal issues.

Now, were some of his points interesting?  Sure.  I agree that the wheat we eat today is definitely NOT the same wheat people were eating hundreds of years ago, thanks to genetic engineering and hyper-processing.  Could that have nutritional implications?  Sure.  Is being in a state of hyperglycemia (too much sugar in your bloodstream) good for you?  Definitely not.  But should we eat candy before we eat wheat bread (as Dr. Davis says)?  Goodness no.

In short, I definitely do not recommend this book and I would caution anyone to take a very critical look at any diet that eliminates (or severely decreases) an entire food group.  To read the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ review of Wheat Belly, click here.

That being said, I was still intrigued by some of his assertions.  While I don’t have any aches, pains or acne, nor am I overweight, lethargic or suffer from GI problems, I’m curious to see what eliminating wheat will do.  Or not do.  Dr. Davis says many of his patients lose tons of weight after following their new wheat-free diets for just a week or so.  (Of course they lose a bunch of weight!  They give up all that processed crap they were eating in favor of carrot sticks?)

Really, I’m just curious.  This is a ‘diet’ that will encourage me to eat more fruits and vegetables, curb what little ‘junk’ food I do eat, and I may even feel a little better afterward.  Because you can replace the vitamins, minerals and fiber found in wheat with those found in vegetables, this diet (especially in the short term) won’t have serious nutritional ramifications.  In the end, it will be a challenge, it’s fun and gimmicky, so why not?

This morning, I had my first wheat-free (on purpose) meal: a banana, almond milk, yogurt, avocado and protein powder smoothie.  Not bad.  A friend has been adding avocados to her meals lately and she’s loving it.  Avocados are full of healthy fats and vitamins and fiber, so I thought I’d amp up my intake, too.

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Verdict:  This smoothie kept me full til noon.  In my snack-every-two-hours book, that’s impressive.

I planned our meals this week using some recipes included in the book–some of which are wheat ‘alternative’ recipes such as a pizza made with a cauliflower crust (that’s for tomorrow) and a stir-fry with wheat-free noodles, and others are simply meals without grains, like a meat entree and roasted vegetables or a smoothie.  I’m even going to try some of the baked recipes, like the banana-blueberry muffins or apple-almond bread.  For baking, almond meal, flaxseed meal and coconut flour make many appearances.

And remember that wheat isn’t just breads–it’s cereals, pretzels, cookies, snacks and it’s even hiding in lots of things.  Dr. Davis encourages readers to give up just about anything that will send your blood sugar soaring, like anything with fructose, corn and other grain products.  He also limits rice, beans, fruit and starchy vegetables, like white potatoes and corn. (Think Atkins.)

I don’t know that I’ll be drastically limiting my fruit intake, but I am going to try to cut out all wheat products in the interest of the experiment.  The diet relies heavily on vegetables, dairy, meat and nuts, which will give me plenty of protein and will encourage satiety–both good things.  While I was on spring break this past week, I kinda took a ‘vacation’ from my normal healthy habits (there might have been some Ben & Jerry’s…), so I’m ready for a diet jump-start right about now!

So long, wheat!  See you in two weeks 🙂

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