Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Evil Wheat

I'm beyond sold. I have tried so many products and read so many books, all which came with so many user/reader testimonials proclaiming "this changed my life!!!!!!!!1" only to find the effects for myself were not nearly so dramatic. Well, I have finally read a book and made a lifestyle adjustment that I will shout from the rooftops. It has been three months and I'm only more convinced.

Everyone needs to read Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. Every part of me has not wanted this to be the real thing. From the first time I saw its cover with stacked bagels looking delicious, I thought, "Oh no. I don't even want to hear why I shouldn't be eating that." Yet a part of me realized that I must be addicted to bread and pasta if I felt like a junkie, jealously guarding my stash. So last March, feeling I needed to make a change, I read it. The tone might come off as sensationalist at first, but there's a lot of scientific analysis to back it up. However, many authors could look at similar data and come up with completely different conclusions or only look at data that support their arguments, so it comes down to credulity on the part of the reader. Thus, the proof is in the pudding.

I'll pause here: everyone should read this book, or at least start with Dr. Davis's blog (just google "wheat belly"). In a nutshell for the uninitiated, modern wheat is vastly genetically different from the wheat our grandparents grew up with. Modern wheat causes blood sugar to skyrocket, it has a chemical component that acts as an opiate, and it causes a plethora of inflammatory responses in the body.

We gave up almost all wheat as a family last spring and immediately enjoyed the effects. It has been long enough now that we have backslid a few times only to become more sure that wheat-free is the way to go. And the longer we're off wheat, the more positive the effects.

Heartburn? Gone. No matter what else we eat, we only experience heartburn if we've overindulged in wheat products (pizza, sandwiches, bagels, etc.). Furthermore, Erich used to take Prilosec every day. He had taken it every day for at least seven years, and it had to be the brand-name product, and if he missed a dose, he suffered. On a wheat-free diet, he no longer has any need for this drug. That's money in our wallets, not to mention all the benefits of not depending on pharmaceuticals to feel normal.

Bloat? Gone. The weight loss has not been super dramatic, but we no longer carry around those extra ten pounds of water weight. The uncomfortable full feeling I used to feel after meals all the time, even while I mindlessly sought out something starchy for dessert--no more.

(BATHROOM STUFF, not for the squeamish: we both have fairly immediate negative effects from consuming wheat, be it gas or "the runs." I had a recent backslide into wheat consumption that has brought to light some things. It is wheat that used to cause my frequent bloody stool. That shouldn't happen, right? Well, it doesn't if I avoid wheat.)

Skin? Much clearer all around.

Most importantly, and I often forget this was the deciding factor for embarking upon this experiment, my little nursling is much better and happier. My recent backslide reminds me how it used to be. His sleeping habits deteriorated, he has been very gassy, his poops have been nasty, and he has strange rashes, diaper and otherwise. My little boy is sensitive to wheat. I wonder if I could have helped Lily in the same way. Eliminating dairy seemed to help, but her little issues didn't disappear. And speaking of Lily, now that there's less wheat in the house, she's not eating very much of it. She used to snack on pretzels a lot and now doesn't. So it seems like she's eating less, but no one needs to be mindlessly snacking and she's still growing like a weed.

I now wish I had known about this before my bloatacious, high blood sugar and high blood pressure pregnancies. How much easier it would have been to limit my weight gain! And the ever-present question: could I have birthed them naturally? Maybe they wouldn't have grown as big, maybe my blood pressure would have stayed normal and not put the pressure on at the end, necessitating induction (pharmacological for Lily, "natural" with Walter--castor oil, evening primrose oil, membrane stripping, etc.). There's never a way to know for sure, but I will be wheat-free next time around and we'll see what happens.

Now that I'm on this side, I really wish I had taken the plunge sooner. I hear so many people say, "That's never going to happen. [He/she/I] will never give up wheat." I think one has to be addicted to think that way. Giving up wheat has been so much easier than cutting calories. I truly believe I could do this forever and be much better off for it. Diet-wise, I know I have more improvements to make, but this is becoming for me the bare minimum. Wheat is bad. Amen.