I got one of those awesome Kobo e-readers for Christmas from my awesome boyfriend (Yes, I am aware I just used the word “awesome” twice in one sentence). The first book I read was one which kind of jumped out at me, called “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. I mean, I know I tend to be a bit of a bandwagoneer when it comes to this kind of thing, but wow, I am really convinced that wheat is Satan.
To get all the details, you really have to read the book yourself, which gets a bit doctor-jargony but is for the most part, pretty accessible. To sum it up in a sentence or two: Wheat has been extremely modified over the past century so that it no longer even resembles what your grandma used to make muffins when she was a spunky young teenager. This franken-grain that we eat today in nearly everything (think about it right now….. it’s everywhere…. not just obvious places like bread and pasta, but think about the supermarket aisles, the endless rows of snack foods and pretzels, frozen dinners, cakes, cookies, pastries, and even in sneaky places like soy sauce). And, this stuff is bad for you, people! The glycemic index of bread is much higher than eating straight sugar. That’s right, even your organic, multigrain, high-fiber bread will shoot your blood sugar through the roof, even moreso than a can of Coke. I found this totally shocking. In the book he asks the question: why weren’t any of our grandmothers fat back in the day? They definitely weren’t at the gym three times a week, pumping iron and doing spin classes? What has changed dramatically in the North American diet in the past 50 years or so? Well, Dr. Davis points his finger at wheat. Basically, things with a high glycemic index send your blood sugar sky-high, forcing an insulin response from your body to counteract it. This leads to that all-too-familiar cycle of being starving hungry before a meal, and eating way too much (often starchy, sugary calories which spike the blood sugar again…) only to find yourself starving again a few hours later.
The book is packed with case studies of his hundreds and hundreds of patients he has put on a completely wheat-free diet, whose myriad complaints from colitis to arthritis, were vapourized by simply cutting out the wheat. Oh yeah, and they lost dozens of pounds – effortlessly.
One of the things I found really, totally fascinating was the chapter on the addictive qualities of wheat. Now, I have often heard – and said myself – that I can go weeks without eating junk, but once I do, it’s like opening up the floodgates, because if I eat just one Oreo I am suddenly hoovering up every croissant, cookie, cake, donut, bagel, and slice of toast in the place. And what I have known now empirically has now been explained to me scientifically – that wheat actually affects the same receptors in our brains that respond to opiates (yes, like heroin). And, indeed, has the very same addictive properties, and results in the same compulsive behaviours. So if you’ve ever found yourself reaching for “just one more” Timbit, you are not alone, and it may not even be your fault.
It seems overly simplistic – that the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, even cancer – could be linked with this one unassuming edible grassy plant. But the book is incredibly convincing. I highly recommend it.
So yeah, I totally ploughed a bunch of beer-battered shrimp tonight (it’s New Year’s Eve, people) but other than that, I haven’t eaten any wheat-containing products for three days. I’m going to keep it up. It’s a bit early to say whether it makes much of a difference, but I have to say I have not ONCE been hungry, in three days, and that is a major anomaly for me.