Eradicating wheat and gluten from your lifestyle: part one

Wheat is grass. From Wikipedia commons

First, a quick quiz:

  1. Do you sneeze when you mow the lawn?
  2. Are you allergic to hay or straw?
  3. Do you feel lethargic after consuming any wheat product?
  4. Do you develop congestion, runny nose, a sore throat or sneezing after eating any wheat product?
  5. Do you feel hungry not long after consuming any wheat product?
  6. Are you experiencing inflammation?
  7. Do your legs crawl at night?
  8. Do you experience mood swings or depression?

I you have answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, chances are you could possibly have an aversion or allergy to wheat/gluten. See more symptoms of wheat/gluten here.

Wheat and gluten allergies and intolerance are among the most frequent in sufferers, many of whom never realize they may be in the throes of actual physical pain, discomfort and mental instability due to the ingestion of grasses.

I, myself, never made the connection until last summer, when I read Dr. Julia Ross’ The Diet Cure for the first time. The aha moments were fast and furious. I knew I was always allergic to hay and straw and sneezed when I mowed the lawn. I had suffered depression. I did experience inflammation and congestion regularly. However, I had never before put those conditions together with wheat.

This is what Dr. Ross says, from page 70 of The Diet Cure (ellipses show where I’ve jumped ahead):

“A family of grains that is made up of wheat, rye, barley and oats is actually a family of hybridized grasses. Grasses are high on the list of the most common causes of inhalant allergies. It makes sense that eating grasses is apt to cause problems as well…. Eating foods made from these four grassy grains, particularly wheat, may have many surprising consequences. Routinely I read the food diaries that my incoming clients have written. Many people who love bread and pasta describe feeling heavy and tired after eating them. Others say, “I want a nap right after I have a sandwich every day at lunch.” Low energy is a very common symptom of gluten intolerance, and it can lead to excessive need for caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants. …They never feel full because their gluten-damaged intestines aren’t absorbing food very well. Often they crave sweets soon after a meal that contains bread or pasta, because sugar will get into their systems, like a drug, no matter how damaged their digestive tract is, and give them a lift. … Another reason for weight gain besides overeating baked goods and sweets is that the allergy causes them to retain so much water.”

Note that my family is not a low carbohydrate family and yours need not be either in order to test for allergens in your food and to effectively remove them. Substitutions made can vary from higher glycemic changes (such as potatoes, corn and rice) to rice cakes, flax crackers, cheese shells and cauliflower pizza crusts. I will share both dynamics for you as we move forward.

My Goal: While heading slowly towards a lower glycemic load lifestyle, and taking my family from a high glycemic, standard American Diet family to a family who enjoys less processed food items, my goal is to slowly test for food aversions so as to slowly evolve an eating plan and to educate members of my family regarding healthful choices.

My question to you: Do you want a foolproof, inexpensive way of knowing whether or not wheat/gluten is causing inflammation or other problems?

Why medical testing doesn’t always work: A friend at lowcarbfriends has had the gamut run, from biopsy to blood tests and the results came back negative for gluten or wheat allergies (read more here). As well, my son was tested for wheat allergies and came back with a negative blood test and he exhibits signs of wheat/gluten intolerance.

Don’t get me wrong. This experiment is much more intensive and emotional than visiting a doctor for testing, but it’s also less expensive and your most accurate test.

Step one: Locate the wheat

Know which products in your home contain wheat and gluten. by reading labels, locate and place the offenders aside in your kitchen, making note of the kinds of products you’ve found. Don’t forget to look for products which seem less obvious.

  • soups
  • french fries
  • frosting
  • pudding
  • cake mixes
  • taco shells
  • corn dogs
  • corn and rice cereals
  • oat based products
  • shredded cheese
  • bran
  • cereal extract
  • couscous
  • cracker meal
  • enriched flour
  • gluten
  • high-gluten flour
  • high-protein flour
  • seitan
  • semolina wheat
  • vital gluten
  • wheat bran
  • wheat germ
  • wheat gluten
  • wheat malt
  • wheat starch
  • whole wheat flour
  • gelatinized starch
  • hydrolized vegetable protein
  • modified food starch
  • modified starch
  • natural flavoring
  • soy sauce
  • soy bean paste
  • hoison sauce
  • starch
  • vegetable gum (specifically beta glucan)
  • vegetable starch
  • bread crumbs

You will likely be surprised at the amount of wheat you’ve been ingesting and never realized it. I remember the first time I read a tomato soup label and saw wheat as an ingredient. It was an eye opener, to say the least.

Even many low and lower carb products contain wheat, since it does lend itself well to baking in terms of texture. Still, if you’re going to fully embrace this testing period of two weeks, you need to set aside the pastas, breads and bake mixes in order to ensure a clean trial eating period.

Please note: You do not need to donate or rid yourself of  items until the conclusion of testing. In this economy, especially, if you find you have absolutely no aversions to wheat/gluten, you will be kicking yourself if you threw everything in the trash or donated it prematurely.

My children and husband are mortified at a second run towards a gluten free household and are exhibiting anxiety and emotional behaviors toward a grass. That is just how powerful addiction can be even towards those foods which are not meant for us.

I will share with you how we are working through these issues in an effort to help your family.

Next: In part two of the series, I will speak to addiction and to substitutions for wheat products in your home, as we prepare you for the next two weeks (and possibly for the rest) of your lives. We’ll also cover how to talk loved ones down while changes are being made for the next two weeks.


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  1. shredded cheese???

  2. I am interested to watch how the removal of gluten effects you. I am diabetic, which came as a huge surprise given my slender build, healthy lifestyle, no family history etc. Might be Type 1, and as that is an auto-immune disorder, it has some connections to Celiac disease. My aunt is celiac and it makes me wonder…if I cut out gluten, would my blood sugars be better?
    I create a lot of low carb recipes that are also gluten free, if you ever want to check out my blog

  3. Jamie aka Carbarella says

    YES! Can you believe it?

    There's more than cheese in those shredded cheeses in the form of starch to prevent sticking.

    Not all brands contain gluten, so check the labels!

  4. Jamie aka Carbarella says

    Carolyn– We ran the experiment about a year ago with some surprising results, but we let wheat creep back in–along with the problems.

    This time I'm documenting everything for all six of us and it will serve as a reminder that gluten just isn't a necessary component of any lifestyle.

    I think cutting gluten does help blood sugars to a degree. Many who eat wheat are hungry soon afterwards, which is a good indication. I'll add your blog to my link list! I have a few gluten recipes, but the great bulk of them contain no gluten for the same reason as yours don't.

  5. Love the new look!

  6. Some bacon also has flour on it to make it fry up crisper! I will be watching your experiment closely and trying it out myself as soon as I can.

  7. Hey, thanks so much for adding me to your Fabulous Low Carb Links. I really have to try to wrap my head around this gluten-free thing. Not everything I post on my blog is low carb or gluten free because I cook and bake for friends and family. But most things are low carb.
    Gluten is so pervasive in our food industry, and it takes a huge effort to go fully GF. I want to try, but with 3 small kids around right now, it's hard enough trying to remain low carb. Baby steps, I suppose!

  8. Ok, now you got me interested. I just ordered a copy of The Diet Cure. I'll be reading the rest of these posts with exaggerated interest. I cannot express how much I love toasted Ezekiel Bread. It's not normal. I was raised believing that if my body craved something, my body must really need it. Now, I'm not so sure. Hmmmmm.

    Regarding the bacon experiment. What's wrong with it? Well, the chemicals in most commercial bacon aren't so great, maybe. How about a month of pork? Chops, ribs, roasts, bacon, ham. o your friends have any factual objections, or does it just sound scary to them?

  9. Jamie aka Carbarella says

    Thank you, Anne!

    Grizelda– That's so wrong to put wheat on bacon.

    Carolyn–it's much easier moving to gluten free with small kids than bigger ones. Once they turn teen try taking their bread away. It's a nightmare. Better to develop their taste buds early and do less damage to their sensitive digestive systems than risk the blood/brain barriers wheat causes in so many Americans! If I had it to do over again, my kids would be gluten free from the very start.

    AuntWie– I used to think the same way! If you crave it, you must need it… But Atkins and Ross both assert that allergies cause a craving for the very items that cause your immune system to battle on your behalf. Candida behaves much the same way. Those cravings for sugar are born from candida overgrowth in many people. It's an unhealthy craving for sure.

    Re: the bacon experiment, it's pretty austere, and it's really a little bit irresponsible to eat only one thing for an entire month. I don't think anyone should ever eat only one food item for a month unless they're stranded on an island and don't have any choices.

    The pork idea is absolutely better, at least! You'd likely want some organ meat in there somewhere.

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