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A Case For Wheat-Free and Against the Grain

Posted Sep 09 2011 12:21am

Wheat.  Seems so innocent, a base for comfort food, a staple in a lot of homes.  What argument could sway one to avoid eating a principal ingredient dating back to at least the Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago?  Wheat’s a plant.  Whole grains are all the rage.  What could possibly be so wrong with wheat that has so many people against it?  Of all foods, how could wheat be an enemy?  Is the turn on wheat just another health-fanatic trend?  These are questions I had.

I recently quit wheat for 30 days .  In short, it was hard.  I like bakeries, pizza crust, pasta, and anything Italian.  Eggs on toast, pancakes, croissants, burritos, yes, they have been good friends to me.  For those 30 days , I still ate some of my favorites: cookies, pancakes, pasta, breaded eggplant – just the kinds with other flours, like almond, coconut and some rice flour pasta.  It took extra work, and I ate solo things, because my daughter and husband weren’t so *all in*.  What the 30 days gave me was a chance to have to eat other things.  I had to experiment with other ingredients if I really wanted something, and I had to fill up on vegetables, fruits and proteins.  Not easy for a pescatarian who doesn’t eat much fish beyond wild salmon.

I wanted to and still want to eat way less wheat.

1. Wheat is a GMO.

It’s not talked about as much as soy, corn or canola in the GMO arena, but it has become a very different plant than nature intended it to be.  Corrupt corporations, like Monsanto, are wrecking our food and health over time, by breeding “super plants” that can withstand their Round-Up products.  Wheat has been a chosen (modified) one for years now.  Maybe it helps explain the growing numbers of those diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Even when wheat is not modified, it’s threatened by pollination with the genetically modified crops.  Like releasing bad farm-raised salmon which kill the wild salmon, bad wheat also ruins good wheat.  In short, eating wheat CAN mean we are eating Round-Up or like pesticides.

2. Wheat, like other carbs, breaks down to glucose.

High glucose levels contribute to risk factors with insulin and diabetes.  It’s essentially a starch, essentially a sugar once digested.  Gluten intolerance is linked to Celiac Disease, and flattening of the small intestine lining.

3. Wheat is difficult on our bodies to digest.

According to Mark’s Daily Apple , humans are not meant to break down gluten, phytate or lectins in wheat.  Wheat wreaks havoc on our metabolic systems.  It also blocks our ability to properly absorb Vitamin D.  So many babies are still fed wheat or grains as their first foods, “rice cereal” or “oatmeal cereal”.  Think of the damage done to their digestive and immune systems right off the bat.  We don’t know the range of the long-term effects this has on kids.  I’ve read that wheat shouldn’t be introduced before one year of age, and some who say not before three years of age.

4. Unknown long-term effects from wheat are… unknown.

Wellness Mama wrote an informative post about how grains are killing us slowly.  They have been linked to a myriad of conditions, from infertility to anxiety to autism to various cancers.  If we know that wheat is so toxic to our bodies, who knows how far that toxicity reaches.   Mercola states that my DNA was decently affected by what my maternal grandmother ate while pregnant with my mother.  Our genetics are set in place, yes.  DNA can be altered by what enters or bodies.  Wheat has a lot of unknowns.  What exactly wheat and other “modified organisms” do to our DNA, bodies and minds over time is simply not known at this time.

5. We just don’t need wheat.

Wheat contains nothing that our bodies can’t get in better amounts from other foods.  I’ve yet to find a reason, beneficial to health, to eat wheat.

Bottom line.

I haven’t thrown in the towel on wheat.  In fact, I still turn to it in times of comfort.  Saltine crackers, anyone?  But I don’t eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It’s overload on my system.  I just feel it.  My energy is down, my body isn’t a fan.  I want to get enough tricks in my recipe repertoire to further restrict it from my days, but I’m not quite there.

So, I’m freeing myself from wheat moderately.  Cold turkey with anything is tough.  I know at the end of my 30 days without wheat, I walked into a small Italian restaurant while out of state, and found out they made homemade pasta.  That was my weakness and I buckled.  However, I could have chosen a different place, right?  The other point I want to make clear is: Most gluten-free options are crap.  They’ve traded wheat for soy, corn, potato this or that… Hello GMO relatives.  I don’t want you either.

There’s a pack of folks way ahead of me.  I’ve been following their stuff and copying their recipes, and learning as much as I can.
I have Elana to thank for cookies, Mark to thank for pancakes, Wellness Mama to thank for inspiration to press on.

Three of my favorite wheatless/Paleo/primal authors that I subscribe to are 1. Mark’s Daily Apple
Mark regularly posts about health, wellness and fitness, and the foods that contribute to them.  His wife is a primal pescatarian, and I’ve been inspired by their stories.
2. Elana’s Pantry
Elana and her son were diagnosed with Celiac’s and she has drawn on some of her culinary training to create protein-packed, wheat-free recipes.  I’ve loved some of her recipes, especially her cookies and her chocolate chip bars.  Thanks to her, I can be wheat-free and still fulfill my need for treats.
3. Wellness Mama
Wellness Mama has inspirational recipes on her site, from making your own deodorant, baby wipes to dinner recipes.  She’s a mom who I enjoy relating to, and reminds me that there are other ways, other alternatives.

These authors are real people who use alternate ingredients that are… GREAT for you.  They’ve introduced me to almond flour, coconut flour and some very cool notions.  Maybe you’ve noticed a trend in my latest recipes, and a general lack of wheat recipes.  It’s thanks to the pioneers who are that much further ahead in their wheatless paths.

My next personal challenge is to go 90 days without wheat.  I’m not sure when I’ll start, but imagine it will be soon.  I want to keep better notes this time around, and truly track how I feel – whether the same or different.  I’ll try to make my journey interesting for you.  What are your feelings about wheat?

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