Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How I'm feeling about wheat

You may remember that I have been fasting from wheat (and rye and barley). I've not been diagnosed with any wheat allergy, but I did a little research and read a book about interstitial cystitis (The Better Bladder Book) and made a personal decision to do a trial of fasting from wheat just to see how I felt.

I have been wheat-free for one month.  I felt strongly that there was a possibility that wheat was causing an overal inflammation in my body and that the removal of wheat would allow my body to heal and the pain would go away. I'm sad to say that I feel no different. At least not in the ways I was hoping for. I was hoping for less bladder pain, and less overall achiness. Neither one happened. My bladder feels the same as it did a month ago, and my hips, ankles and feet are just as achy as they were a month ago.

What I have felt is a difference in my hunger and a difference in my cravings. Without wheat, I can go much longer without food without feeling hungry. Today, for example, I ate two breadless meat and veggie rolls (deli roast beef and provolone wrapped in two red leaf lettuce leaves) for lunch and ate nothing again until dinner, with no dips in blood sugar, no weak moments, no belly growls. I did feel very tired, but I have been fighting a cold and sore throat, and I think that was more to blame. I have not craved wheat at all. I went to dinner with my mom tonight at a really nice restaurant and the bread basket didn't tempt me one bit.

I don't crave sugar one bit either. Probably because I have not been eating very much sugar. One thing I have learned since I stopped eating wheat is that wheat, fat, and sugar go together in a very happy trio. Where one goes, you usually find the other two. By not eating wheat I have been eating very little sugar and butter. You would think I would have lost some weight. I don't own a scale so I can't say for sure. My pants feel a little more loose, so maybe a little.

Contrary to predictions in the popular book Wheat Belly I don't think I've lost any inches on my belly. That's unfortunate. Maybe I need to wait longer, but I think a month is a pretty decent amount of time.

What have I learned by giving up wheat? Well, I learned it's not a cure-all. I learned it absolutely causes intense cravings and appetite. I learned that when I eat wheat, I eat more fat and sugar. I learned that even wheat-free treats have a lot of fat and sugar. I learned that it's a lot harder to create a tasty treat (ie baked good) without wheat. All grains are not the same, and rice flours, tapioca flour, potato flour (not technically a grain) do not all taste very good. Not even when you add a lot of butter and sugar to them.

I learned it's really easier to give up all flours than it is to create something equal to a brownie without flour (don't ask me about those black bean brownies). It's crazy combining five or eight other ingredients to try to create the same taste and texture you find in one ingredient -- wheat flour.

So, what am I going to do now? I haven't decided for certain because I haven't tried eating wheat and, ultimately I have to try it again to know if it really causes a problem. If I want to be tested for gluten intolerance I have to eat it again. I could just go on the way I have been not eating it, but, frankly, if I ever want to eat bread again, or enjoy a baked good, it's not going to be some wheat alternative. I'm sure that as time goes on there will be better wheat alternatives, but I tried to create some tasty alternatives and fell flat about 9.5 out of 10 times. I made some really awful stuff (which may account for why I have done very little blogging lately).

I will try wheat again, and soon, just to know how my gut reacts. If I have no pain, no bloating, no gas, I will probably eat wheat again. I will not, hopefully, ever, eat as much as I did before, if for no other reason than I feel like my diet is at least 90% better without wheat. I think I can eat some bread and wheat pasta without compromising how I feel, but I don't think I can have baked goods the way I did before. Wheat truly causes cravings and appetite like nothing else. I ate sugar when I was off wheat, like in these Edy's Fruit Bars, and I never craved sugar. I also had butter, in potatoes and on my Banana Oat Pancakes, and I didn't crave butter. My appetite never changed when I ate butter and sugar. It is definitely different when I eat wheat.

So...that's how I'm feeling about wheat.


Sara said...

That's a pretty fair assessment. It does cause cravings like crazy, and yes, the perfect tirfecta is wheat, sugar, and fat, and it's perfectly yummy. :-/

I wish it had made a huge difference in your issues; then you would know for sure. As it is, it's hard to know if the sacrifice has done any good. It has, but it's nice to be certain, isn't it?

Linda said...

I read your report with much interest, and I see that you have reached many of the same conclusions that I have.

Now, because you are still suffering with pain in various places, do you think a doctor visit is in order? Just sayin'...... love you, Barb.

scmom (Barbara) said...

Thanks for caring, Linda. I was actually at the doctor today and she ordered a lot of blood work. Hopefully rule out any autoimmune diseases and find out if I am defficient in some essential vitamins and minerals. I have an appointment with a gastro doc in a few weeks to see if I have an underlying intolerance to wheat.

Unknown said...

Barbara, first of all congratulations on going a whole month without wheat. That takes a real committment.

I don't know if you're approaching this as an allergy issue (it sounds like that to me) but I thought I'd share what I learned from our family doctor when going through this with young children: when eliminating something from the diet it takes 2 weeks after stopping for the body to clear of the allergen, then another 2 weeks for the allergic symptoms to begin to subside.

So, you might want to give it a little more time before going back to the wheat. And I'm wondering (and please don't take this the ~~wrong~~ way) if being older (than say a toddler ) and with the slower metabolism that can come along the way, might not also play into seeing if you're body is not heading in a new direction.

Just my .02.

Bless you, Tami

Jennifer Gregory Miller said...

I've been basically wheat free for 6 months. I did find it drastically reduced my inflammation and pain, but I also noticed I had to eliminate other triggers, such as the Nightshade family foods and alcohol. I also went off Diet Coke and noticed an improvement in pain with that, too. I guess it's baby steps.

But the loss of cravings and everything else you mentioned I also had. My blood sugar is much more normalized, which is huge.

I haven't noticed great wait loss or great reduction in belly fat...just a little looser, but I definitely need to work out to get my waistline back.

I wish it had made some difference.

Janice said...

This is interesting to me. Now that you mention it I definitely suffer more cravings when I have wheat-intensive foods - which is more often since my daughter got on a health kick. I thought I'd feel better too but truthfully I haven't. You've given me something to think about. Thanks! Janice

Betsy said...

Hi, I found your blog via Margaret in MN and am enjoying all of your posts. I just had to comment as being or not being gf has been a major issue in our house the last few years. I decided that I was better off without the gluten, even though tests said nothing, and then my daughter started having some anxiety issues. Anyway, long story short we had her tested at Enterolab (online company works through the mail) and found that she had gluten intolerance. The great thing about this company is that you do not have to go back on the gluten. Even though she had been almost free of gluten before the test she must have been getting some because now, being TOTALLY gluten free she is a different kid and feels like her normal self again.

Oh, and I agree completely with the sugar observations. My cravings are gone whereas before going gf I would get ravenous for sugar.

You probably know this but it is common for people with Celiac to also have Thyroid problems. My sister found out she had Celiac by chance when she was tested for thyroid disease and they included the test in with her blood work. Anyway, good luck with whatever you decide. God Bless.