Last year, I gave up gluten for three weeks. I have several friends who are gluten free for health reasons, so I wanted to do what I considered to be impossible – completely give up gluten and then reintroduce it to see if I had an intolerance. I was convinced I did. It turns out, luckily for me, that I don’t but the experiment taught me something important: a lot of the foods I thought were necessary really weren’t. I thought it would just be too weird to eat eggs without toast or a tortilla, but it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t really keep bread in the house before, but I ate a lot of tortillas and whole wheat waffles. Now I avoid wheat most of the time, because I’ve read a lot of stuff about how wheat isn’t that great for humans. A lot of the things we consume really aren’t – it’s funny how what we eat is dictated more by society and what the manufacturers make than what we actually need to survive. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat pizza now and then, or a sandwich, but on a daily basis I don’t eat much wheat. (Although my favorite morningstar farm veggie sausage contains gluten and is probably more processed than I should be eating – boo!)
It turns out, wheat probably isn’t that great for us. For one thing, the grains of today are not the same as they were 100 years ago. This makes sense, if you think about it. If you try to avoid GMOs (aka A genetically modified organism, an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.) wheat is a definite offender. A study conducted in Britain found definitive evidence that consuming wheat products caused bloating and abdominal pain in patients with irritable bowel disease. You can read about the study here, and it includes a link to the abstract. Normally I only link to what I consider to be “credible sources,” a newspaper, a scholarly journal, something that it would be ok to cite in a paper for grad school, but because this site summarizes a scientific study and I can’t access the study, I decided I would in this case. I was hoping I could actually get a PDF of the study to provide here but unfortunately it’s not available online or in my college’s library.
There’s also a great article by Mark Hyman, MD on the Huffington Post about why wheat is so bad for us. I really recommend reading it!
It’s true you can also find as many articles about why wheat is fine and the gluten free craze is just a fad. I agree on one count, just buying cookies and crackers and processed crap that’s gluten free is not better than eating gluten. You’ll notice that my first post, the gluten free waffles, were still a cheat meal. Even though they don’t contain wheat, the various gluten/wheat-free flours still pack a lot of calories. Gluten free doesn’t always mean healthy.
I will never give it up 100%, I do like to indulge occasionally, but wheat will never be a part of my daily diet again. One thing I found when I gave it up was that my food cravings went away. Not cravings for rolls and pasta, but all cravings. I didn’t get hit by the urge that I just had to have french fries that wouldn’t go away. It seemed odd to me, but that’s what happened. It’s easier to make better choices if you don’t have a hankering for something specific and unhealthy. I think everyone should give up gluten for a while and see how they feel. If nothing else, it allowed me to realize that I don’t need a roll with dinner or a tortilla with my fajitas and that saves me calories!