It’s been a few months now since I completely eliminated wheat from my diet, and the effects of the wheat withdrawal have been wide ranging–some were big, some were small, and some have been non-issues.
Cravings–When I first thought of eliminating wheat from my diet, I thought I would really miss eating bread and pasta.
Surprisingly, I really haven’t missed the wheat products at all.
I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but from reading Wheat Belly, a possible explanation comes to mind.
Apparently, the way the body digests wheat products triggers the brain to crave more wheat products. So even though you have recently eaten, your brain is craving more wheat.
If that really is the case, it helps to explain my ease of wheat elimination. Once I got all of the wheat out of my system, I wasn’t physiologically craving them anymore.
And the withdrawals have been so minimal, that when people bring muffins and/or donuts to Sunday School, I really don’t have a hard time saying no.
I have, however, had a bit of a stronger sweet tooth since eliminating the wheat from my diet. Like I mentioned in my monthly mission update, I have been eating ice cream more often in the time I have been wheat free. I’ve also had a bit of a stronger urge for sports drinks than normal, although I have long been a sucker for the occasional Gatorade bottle or two.
Digestive–One of the most common questions I received from people when I told them about my wheat free Monthly Mission was “Where are you going to get your fiber?”, ie how would I stay regular?
It’s funny how much we think that wheat products are so full of fiber that we could never live without them.
You know what foods do contain ample fiber? Celery. Apples. Carrots. Beans. Watermelon. Oranges. Need I continue? I have found that when I cut the wheat from my diet I began eating a lot more fruits and vegetables.
So I have been anything but fiber deficient.
And I’ve had no elimination problems whatsoever.
Another digestive impact that I have noticed is a reduction of methane emissions.
I fart less, people.
I know for a fact that I am less gassy since switching from a diet with lots of wheat to a diet containing none. I am not trying to say that I am gas-free, since that is physiologically impossible, but the frequency has been dramatically reduced, and the smell is less offensive as well. (At least in my opinion. My wife may disagree)
And you can call it a coincidence if you want too, but the few times I have had something that did contain wheat (different flavors of ice cream, a few restaurant meals that I suspect had some flour to thicken the sauce, etc) I ended up the bathroom and was fumigating the house.
There may not be a direct correlation in there, but these are honest observations.
Exercise–As most of you know, I have been quite diligent this year about running regularly. I’ve even gone so far as to join a local running club recently, and have been working out with them on Thursday nights for the past few weeks.
Anybody who knows many distance runners knows that we are carb freaks. In an attempt to store more glycogen in our muscles to fuel us on long runs, many runners regularly ingest plenty of wheat products, especially pasta, a day or two before a race or a long run.
This concern was one of my biggest fears when I contemplated staying wheat free at the conclusion of the month.
And while my running that month didn’t suffer, I didn’t run much farther than 3-5 miles at a time that month, which is hardly the type of distance that many would feel the need to carb up for.
Well, in the past few weeks, I’ve been upping my distance for my long runs gradually, and I can’t say that my lack of wheat is causing me any problems. This past week I even did a 10 mile run, felt great the whole time, and had no lingering effects from the run in the days afterward. I still haven’t run a race since being wheat free, but I’m confident that for my race in November I’ll be just fine.
And since I’m still eating plenty of rice, potatoes, and quinoa, I’m still taking in plenty of healthy carb-dense fuel sources.
Weight Loss–I’ve lost about 5 pounds since I cut the wheat out of my diet, but I hesitate to say that my weight loss is solely due to being wheat free. Though I’d wager that if I had a bit better control of my sweet tooth, I may have lost a bit more.
I hesitate, however, to attribute all (or even most) of my weight loss to being wheat free only. Since I’ve been running so regularly, and have been doing some strength training as well, I should have lost some weight since April regardless of whether I’ve eaten any wheat or not.
Overall Impression–I really can’t think of any reasons to make the switch back to consuming wheat products. I haven’t missed them at all, and by consciously choosing to not eat wheat I have been much more successful at avoiding random snacks (donuts, cookies, etc) when they are available.
I’m not going to sit here and say its always easy to avoid wheat products, especially if you like going out for restaurants meals, but the decision has been good for me.
I’m as healthy as I’ve probably ever been in my life and I just feel good. If you’ve ever thought about giving up wheat before, I’d encourage you to give it a shot.
Maybe make it a Monthly Mission for one of the coming months, and see how it goes. You may be surprised how much better you end up feeling, I know I was.
Has anybody made a Monthly Mission a permanent change? I’d love to hear about that below. Any other thoughts/comments/ideas, leave them too!