The book Wheat Belly blames wheat for all that ails us but I’m not buying it.

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Here we go again. Just when it seemed like the low-carb craze was finally over, a new book called Wheat Belly comes along. While the book looks like a critique of modern day wheat and its impact on our health, it’s simply yet another book that bashes carbs of all sorts – it just comes at it from a disguised perspective. It’s all dressed up in science claiming that today’s wheat is the cause of all that ails us – from obesity and diabetes to even the delusions of schizophrenia. But it’s all about carbs – make no mistake about it.

There have been plenty of physicians in the past who have extolled the benefits of a low-carb lifestyle: Stillman, Montignac, Dukan and the late Dr. Robert Atkins. Now add William Davis, MD, author of Wheat Belly and a preventative cardiologist, who believes that eliminating all wheat will rid us of wheat bellies, bulging thighs, bagel butts and double chins. He also states that eliminating wheat has been the cure for some people, saving them from drastic colon surgery or allowing others who are incapacitated and crippled with pain to walk.

Are you sceptical yet? If not, you should be. If achieving good health were only that simple.
While Davis does present plenty of scientific research in the book, the problem is that much of it is not really directly linked to consuming wheat and its consequences per se. Many of the dire outcomes are really those associated with diseases, such as celiac disease and diabetes, where they remain undiagnosed or where treatment plans may not be followed.

But first, his attacks on wheat. There are dozens and dozens of pages devoted to how wheat has changed over the years due to it being hybridized. I have no argument here in how he says that wheat has changed, but the all-encompassing impact of this hybridization on our health is another story.

Davis writes of “wheat addiction” and its ability to “affect the central nervous system as much as nicotine and crack cocaine do.”

His observations about the so-called dangers of eating wheat followed his college years during which time he “gorged on waffles and pancakes for breakfast, fettuccini Alfredo for lunch, pasta with bread for dinner.” Poppy seed muffin or angel cake followed for dessert. His subsequent spare tire around the middle, feeling exhausted and an inability to shake off the pervasive stupor persisted no matter how much he slept.

Is there any surprise that he felt lousy? His meal pattern doesn’t even resemble anything that comes close to healthy eating. To then blame it on hybridized wheat is almost laughable. Yet when you pack the pages with plenty of science – much of which the average person couldn’t or wouldn’t even begin to sort through – many buy into the concept.

It’s especially true during this era of gluten phobia. There’s no doubt that for those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing foods is key to good health. But to promote the evils of wheat, in any amount, for the average person, even one who is overweight, simply goes against the scientific evidence.

The book points to the effects of wheat on blood sugar readings, particularly University of Toronto research which shows that whole wheat is digested and enters into the blood stream more quickly than a chocolate bar. This can lead to a rollercoaster effect on blood sugar readings. As a result, Davis writes, eating an English muffin breakfast at 9 a.m. is followed by mental fog, fatigue and shakiness at 11 a.m. These blood sugar fluctuations can stimulate appetite and cause weight gain.

Well, if you ask any nutrition professionals, they will tell you that eating this kind of unbalanced breakfast – all quickly digested carbs and no protein – is a recipe for overeating. Throw in an egg and the entire picture changes.

Portion sizes of various wheat choices also play a role. Dr. David Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc. of the University of Toronto, a world renowned researcher whose group developed the glycemic index, the measure of how fast a food enters the bloodstream as sugar, states, “You can have too much of a good thing.” He adds, “I do not believe it is the bread, if whole grain, that is the problem but our overall excess consumption and lack of exercise.”

Davis devotes an entire chapter to the dangers of wheat and advanced glycation end products. These compounds, or toxins, known as AGEs have been linked as culprits in the development of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, kidney disease and even Alzheimer’s. For those with diabetes, high blood sugar levels can make the levels of these compounds soar. Not surprisingly, controlling blood sugar readings for those with diabetes is critical to preventing high AGEs count and the complication of disease.

But what does this have to do with the average person? Top researchers in the field of AGEs and their toxic effects are indeed sounding the alarm bells, but they’re concerned about the common dietary sources for the average person: grilled, fried and high temperature cooked foods – burgers and fried chicken, for example.

Wheat is not one of the offenders they warn against.

In case the beginning of the book doesn’t make you swear off wheat, Davis then outlines a long list of the other supposed ravages of wheat from osteoporosis and cataracts to skin changes (what he calls bagel face) and hair loss.

Give me a break.

After laying out the case against wheat, the author then describes his vision of a healthy diet. And this is when the disguise comes off. He suggests only small, one half cup servings of gluten-free grains such as quinoa and buckwheat. He limits nutrition superstars like legumes to one half cup portions. Fruit is allowed but he suggests that small servings of “eight to ten blueberries, two strawberries, a few wedges of apple or orange are fine”. When it comes to meat, “eat what your body tells you to eat” is the prescribed portion.

Low-carb, anyone?

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Categories: Rosie's Rants

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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32 Comments on “The book Wheat Belly blames wheat for all that ails us but I’m not buying it.”

  1. Trevor
    September 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I have not read this book, but I have read a lot of information on a Paleo diet, which is without dairy and most importantly, grains. Do you agree with Paleo in anyway? His reasoning sounds pretty off(like why he gained weight on his college diet!), but is the main message wheat is bad?

    • September 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      Thanks for your comments and your questions, Trevor. I do agree with some recommendations of the Paleo diet – foregoing refined grains and sugars – but there are many fundamentals of the diet that I disagree with. I think the book tries to maintain that the main message is to avoid wheat but I thought that it was essentially one that promoted a low-carb diet through the guise of wheat being unhealthy.

      I will definitely address the Paleo diet in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

      • Trevor
        September 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

        Looks like this one-sided article is getting bashed pretty good by the readers… maybe it’s time to take it down until you try the diet yourself?

      • September 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

        and not all comments that support the diet have been posted Trevor.

      • September 28, 2012 at 10:40 am #

        Thanks for your comments, Trevor. I’ve also had lots of great feedback elsewhere. I should mention that I have been in private practice for over 30 years and helped thousands of people feel better. They’ve lost and kept of plenty of weight while eating wheat. But I have also zeroed in on wheat as a culprit for some clients who may have problems with wheat and grain allergies or gluten intolerance. Many of them were unaware of the source of the problems until we delved further into their food choices and symptoms. So I’m certainly not saying that wheat is for everyone but on the other hand, I don’t agree with Dr. Davis’s assessment. I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

      • September 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

        I’m sorry but I don’t know your name – Into Ewe. I have posted a number of comments that support the diet. Please look at my posting guidelines at https://rosieschwartz.com/about/guidelines-for-commenting/ . It states that comments with different names/email addresses from the same IP address will not be posted.

        I am happy to see discussions on my postings. That is why I did not take down the post as Trevor suggested.

  2. September 27, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    I have read the book. I also follow the Wheat Belly Facebook page which now has over 25,000 fans. Dr. Davis’ Wheat Belly book is #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, Advice & Miscellaneous category.

    Every day you can see dozens of people on the Wheat Belly Facebook page saying “Thank you, thank you Dr. Davis, for this information”. They then go on to relate how they have lost 10, 20, 40, 60 or 100 pounds simply by eliminating wheat from their diets. They also talk about achieving other health benefits that Dr. Davis writes about in his book and you mention in your post. These are the same results that Dr. Davis has reported from the patients in his cardiology practice.

    Something is going on here. This doesn’t look like a here we go again fad to me. With the skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates in our society, and healthcare cost that go with these diseases, we need to have a massive debate about whether this hypothesis is correct or not. We need to hear from Health Canada, USDA, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Canadian Diabetes Association and other health related groups and agencies.

    • September 28, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks for your comments, Mark. I do agree that we have a problem in our society but I don’t believe that it’s all based on wheat alone. Yes, I do agree that people will lose weight when they cut out wheat. They will also be eliminating refined grains and sugar and a huge number of processed foods which offer no nutritional benefit.

      I may not have the fans that Dr. Davis does, but in my practice, I too have helped dozens and dozens of people lose large amounts of weight – many of whom have not eliminated wheat. I have also suggested that some people eliminate wheat – if they have a gluten intolerance or a wheat or grain allergy. It depends on the individual.

      I agree with you- debate is good!

  3. Darla
    September 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Here we go again! Someone knocking the “diet” without even do it! :O)

    Go ahead and do it for 2 weeks…THEN write about it on your blog! You might have changes your mind…I did.

    • September 28, 2012 at 11:05 am #

      Thanks for your comments, Darla. But I am not speaking in theoretical terms. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, I’ve been seeing clients for decades. I am basing my comments, not only on scientific research, but also on the wonderful success of my clients. They are not eating high carb diets. They are consuming balanced meals and snacks which eliminate rollercoaster blood sugar and insulin readings.

  4. LiveBetter
    September 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Give ME a break. This is clearly a biased review from someone who is anti low carb (and trained in “traditional” diet mantra). I don’t think I’ve ever been so offended by a review before.

    I agree with Mark. At 43, you better believe I’ve tried it all and nothing – NOTHING – has had the effect on my health that giving up grains and sugar has. Not only have I lost 42 pounds almost effortleslly but other conditions like acid reflux and a chronic post nasal drip have disappeared. My mood is elevated and I have tons of energy. I’m never hungry and have no cravings at all (something that I’ve never experienced until now).

    Forgive me if I don’t have much respect for diaticians either. My FIL, who was recently diagnosed with pre diabetes, was told by the diabetes diatecian to go ahead and eat the very things that were causing high blood sugar (bread, pasta, rice) – in moderation of course. When he decided to follow my grain free/sugar free advice he lost 21 pounds in 3 weeks and his fasting glucose went from 7.3 to 5.3. I’d say low carb works pretty darn well. His doctor was shocked by his quick turn around and told him to “keep doing what he’s doing”. You know he wouldn’t have had that outcome following the advice to eat carbs in moderation.

    As Mark states, the proof is in the pudding. I know what a difference it has made in my life and I’m not the only one. Thousands of people are the proof.

    • September 28, 2012 at 11:01 am #

      Live Better, I’m sorry for offending you! I’m also sorry that you have had such bad experiences with dietitians. I cannot speak for them but only for myself. In my practice, I have had many, many clients who too have tried it all and I have been able to help them lose weight, feel better or control blood sugar through an eating plan that is not restrictive. But the plan does need guidelines. Simply telling someone to eat carbs in moderation is just a small part of the picture.

      Balance is key to long term success and maintaining weight loss over the long term.

      Thank you for contributing to the discussion!

  5. September 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Let me start by saying that I understand your skepticism, I really do. I was skeptical as well. There have been so many diet fads, and misinformation in our society that it makes sense to use critical thinking and not just swallow everything that comes along as truth.

    I actually dropped gluten alone (not going low carb) just before stumbling onto the Wheat Belly book by Dr. Davis. I will tell you in no uncertain terms, this book and that man have changed my life! I am 43, have struggled with being moderately overweight my entire life, even though I ate mainly lowfat “healthy” foods, exercised regularly and took care of my health. I had suffered from IBS from the time I was a teen, and chronic severe headaches as well my whole life. I went through the traditional medical hoopla to figure these things out, only to be given meds to take care of pain, never addressing the cause, which was undetermined. I didn’t take the pain meds because they didn’t fix anything, they only dulled my mind and made me feel ill. Then about 5 years ago, I started to get severe joint pain that was with me every single day. Hips, knees, shoulder, elbows… it made my job as a decorative painter into something that I struggled with so much physically that I decided to change careers and return to college. Doing normal activities required handfuls of ibuprofen a few times a day to deal with inflammation.

    Then 6 months ago, I deleted the wheat from my diet. Everything changed, and I mean within DAYS! The headaches were gone immediately… I only get one now if I accidentally eat wheat or another trigger like aspartame. The joint pain was gone within a week or two. It just quietly left me; at first I didn’t notice, but as the days went past and it stayed gone, I was amazed. Add in a steady improvement in the IBS which is now (at 6 months) a shadow of what it used to be… increased energy, better sleep, no more bloating after eating, no brain fog, allergies are better, colds no longer turn into strep, no more recurring UTIs, food cravings gone (now I know what physical hunger feels like compared to the chemically-induced hunger from wheat)… and a weight loss of 25 lbs. My husband has lost 35 lbs and his daily acid reflux is gone along with bloating, fatigue and food cravings. My son’s ADHD has improved dramatically, making 8th grade this year the easiest start to a school year, EVER.

    Wheat is inflammatory and it effects nearly every part of the body from bowels to brain.
    Wheat is addictive and triggers cravings.
    Wheat is a food that I will never eat again so long as I have a choice.

    I believe in this lifestyle so whole-heartedly that I began a blog (not for profit) where I write about the health effects of being wheat-free and share recipes to help people who aren’t sure where to start, or are just looking for ideas. I am telling you this because while your review is understandably skeptical, you are incorrect in your conclusions. I personally know dozens of people whose lives have been changed for the better, and drastically so, by following Wheat Belly. Some have reversed diabetes. Many stories are just like mine. People that I love, friends and family have tried this thanks to witnessing my family’s experience, and I am eternally grateful that Dr. Davis wrote this book.

    • September 28, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      Gretchen, I’m glad that you are feeling better by eliminating gluten from your diet. I usually suggest to clients with your symptoms that they undergo testing for celiac disease before cutting gluten from their diets. The problem with eliminating it first is that tests for celiac disease are not accurate in someone following a gluten free diet and if a person has celiac disease, they should eliminate all sources of gluten from their diet. Gluten in small amounts for those with celiac disease can lead to long term negative health consequences. And while you may be completely gluten-free, your son may not as he goes out into the world on his own.

      In addition, I wanted to mention that for those who eliminate wheat from diet, also cut out a host of foods with refined grains and fat which can lead to weight loss. I, too, in my counselling have helped clients keep blood sugar readings in check – essentially completely normalizing them by having them get rid of the refined grains and sugars. I’m all for that!

      Some of the issues I have with Dr. Davis’s recommendations are the severe limitations on portion sizes of foods with high nutritional ratings such as quinoa and legumes. While I don’t recommend unlimited servings as I think balance is key, the serving sizes need not be so limited.

      Thanks for your comments and contributing to the discussion!

      • September 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

        Thank you for the reply. I have to continue this discussion because I feel that there is much more to be said. This is a topic I am very passionate about, as you can probably tell.

        My feeling is this: Being tested for celiac disease is really only important in people who are not willing to make this dietary change without a big push. (And are those the people who are actively looking for dietary answers? and would they be willing to do this anyway?.. maybe, maybe not.) Whether I have a diagnosis or not is immaterial as long as I know what makes me ill. The only treatment for celiac is to eliminate gluten (though I am SURE that pharma companies are cringing every day that they haven’t come up with a pill yet to allow people to eat all the wheat they want!). After eliminating gluten for 7 days and being transformed, there is no way on earth I would have eaten it again just to get a useless diagnosis. My son is now a very savvy label-reader and made the choice to follow this way of eating. I never forced it on him, and I do not believe he IS celiac. And even if he was diagnosed with celiac, that doesn’t rid him of the burden of making gluten-free (in our case grain-free) choices on his own out in the world. It all comes down to personal responsibility. The method of day to day life is unchanged with or without a diagnosis.

        I think those who are urging testing for celiac are missing the larger picture that gluten is not the only dangerous component in wheat… and celiacs are NOT the only group to benefit from omitting wheat from their diet. Many people who have the most incredible responses to this WOE test negative for celiac…. celiac is the advanced form of damage, and it takes a severe progression for it to show up in tests for many people, and by then it is sometimes too late to really be free from the health issues caused by it, even with dietary changes. There is quite a wide range of gluten sensitivity from people like my husband who suffered mainly acid reflux and weight issues, along with inflammation… all the way up to the celiacs who will have terrible effects from having a crumb of the wrong foods.

        However the danger is this… many people who eliminate gluten also add other nasty refined carbs in the form of mass-marketed gluten-free foods that spike blood sugar and lead to issues with insulin and weight gain. Eating whole, unprocessed foods is key… which you seem to agree with… however, when you say that not everyone should eliminate wheat and grains, which products are you recommending for them that aren’t processed? Wheat in any form (whole wheat, whole grain, flour) is highly inflammatory and leads to blood sugar spikes, insulin response and visceral fat.

        The reason Dr. Davis suggests limiting portion sizes for non-grain carbs such as quinoa and legumes is because of the blood sugar issue and also digestive issues they cause in many. How can that be bad? There aren’t any nutrients or minerals in grains or the other high-carb foods that cannot be found elsewhere in less toxic foods. And if someone felt strongly about quinoa, and had no adverse reaction, let them eat quinoa! That alteration doesn’t negate the huge array of positive effects of strict Wheat Belly for others.

        And, as for eliminating fats (or reducing them) being the cause of our weight loss… that is very much NOT the case with WB, as I eat plenty of healthy fats such as butter, coconut oil, olive oil, dairy and fatty meats. In fact, I eat far more fats than I ever have. Yes, cutting carbs helps cut some calories, but replacing them with healthy fats is key to being satiated… and cutting grains (especially wheat) is essential to doing away with the cravings that make other diets so difficult to maintain and live with. As you know, people can only maintain weight loss if they maintain the new lifestyle. Nixing the wheat is key for MANY people when it comes to appetite control.

        Being wheat-free (notice I am not saying gluten-free) makes a huge difference in terms of healing body systems, ridding them from inflammation and out of control auto-immune responses. Combining wheat-free with low-carb, moderate protein and high fats is what accounts for the weight loss portion of the lifestyle. It’s not one-dimensional like going gluten-free is.

        You say: “I, too, in my counseling have helped clients keep blood sugar readings in check – essentially completely normalizing them by having them get rid of the refined grains and sugars. I’m all for that!”

        Hmmmm sounds familiar.

        You conclude your above statement by saying:”Some of the issues I have with Dr. Davis’ recommendations are the severe limitations on portion sizes of foods with high nutritional ratings such as quinoa and legumes. While I don’t recommend unlimited servings as I think balance is key, the serving sizes need not be so limited.”

        OK, so have a little quinoa and some legumes. Instead of having 1/2C, have a whole cup… we’re all capable of making our own decisions here; we can modify. My son eats many more carbs than I do, for instance, because he can safely burn through them… this is only rigid if one chooses to make it so.

        If your main point of disagreement with Dr.Davis is the limited portion sizes of high-nutrient foods as stated above, your article and review of his book certainly did not relate that very clearly to your readers. Your article takes a very negative tone instead of saying “Hey, we agree here, here and here…. but I differ from him on the portion sizes.” If there is more similarity in your treatment methods than differences, it would have been much more respectful and productive to give him credit instead of acting like he is pushing some insane healing, weight loss diet, and then saying, “Give me a break.”

        Assisting people achieve better health is the main goal here, so supporting the incredible movement of people taking responsibility for their own health by looking to foods first, eating whole, real foods, should be something we can all get behind, and work out the small individual details as we go.

      • Ida Hughes
        April 18, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

        I kind of agree with Gretchen as I have had so many health problems go away after eliminating gluten. IBS, acid reflux, skin boils, inflamitory factors in my blood test that looks like rheumatoid arthritis, even hypothyroidism. I weighed 145 lbs and now i weigh 110 lbs, my thyroid is working perfectly and I eat everything I want (except wheat). I didn’t do this lightly or because of some fad. Wheat is not easy to avoid as so many foods have wheat in them. It has been suggested that I might have adult onset celiac disease but I have never been tested. Even if I came up negative for the condition, the difference in my health is unmistakable. I don’t recommend that everyone give up wheat as many people eat it with no problem. But the supposed percentage of less than one per cent of the population having a problem with wheat may be slightly higher. I just think wheat may be somewhat overused as there are many other grains. Also, I don’t understand why wheat has so many “hidden” names when listed on ingredents. If wheat is in a food product it should just say so straight out.

      • April 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

        Thanks for your comments, Ida. I’m glad that you are feeling so much better after eliminating wheat. If a person has symptoms, I always suggest getting tested for celiac disease as all too often, without testing, he or she might eliminate foods according to how they’re feeling. But they don’t always get rid of all sources of gluten. Removing even traces of gluten is critical to long term health for those with celiac disease.

        Removing wheat certainly gets rid of some of the gluten but there are many other sources including other grains such as barley and rye. As well, when you say that wheat has so many hidden names, I suspect that you are referring to gluten, not wheat. A gluten-free diet is much more comprehensive than a wheat-free one.

        One last point, one of the reasons I suggest testing first is that once you are feeling better, it’s hard to go for testing. It requires that you eat lots of gluten for over a month to properly diagnose celiac disease – not an easy task if you are feeling better without it.

  6. annette anderwald, RD
    December 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    Hi Rosie: You say that you have been helping people feel better for 3 decades in your practice. I think that your first years as a clinician were significantly different in terms of what kind of wheat is/was available and how it is/was grown as compared to these last few years. I am aware that many farmers spray their wheat fields with round up (glyphosate) in order to dry out the wheat and have a uniform crop to harvest. This is as a dessicant, not as weed control and it is allowed within a two week window before harvest. Look it up in the agricutltural products specs for glyphosate if you don’t believe me. I suspect that this didn’t occur in the days before no till farming which has come into favor in the last decade or so. . It may be that the “wisdom of crowds” to cut out wheat has little to do with the wheat itself and more to do how it is processed now a days. While it is easy to dismiss the suppositions of this cardiologist, suggesting that the food we eat nowadays is just like it has always been, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Incidentally, legume crops are also often treated with roundup before they are harvested and for me this is a good reasons to avoid them as well. I do not want to have residues of herbidices or pesticides in my food or the soil where food is grown so nowadays I am looking for organic, ancient grains and organic legumes, in addition to growing my own produce in my garden.

    • December 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Annette. I did state in my post “There are dozens and dozens of pages devoted to how wheat has changed over the years due to it being hybridized. I have no argument here in how he says that wheat has changed, but the all-encompassing impact of this hybridization on our health is another story.

      Davis writes of “wheat addiction” and its ability to “affect the central nervous system as much as nicotine and crack cocaine do.”

      My post was about the book Wheat Belly and Dr. Davis’ reasons for cutting out wheat plus limiting portions of other carbohydrate-rich options including ancient grains. Davis is not writing about herbicides or pesticides – the issues that you have brought up.

      The pros and cons of organic versus conventional agricultural products is a very important topic – I do agree. It is one that I will be addressing sometime in the new year.

  7. December 20, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    Thank you Rosie for that excellent post! I thought you would appreciate this article “Gluten free ‘most popular approach to weight loss’ for 2013 (but it doesn’t work, say dietitians)” http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Trendspotter/Gluten-free-most-popular-approach-to-weight-loss-for-2013-but-it-doesn-t-work-say-dietitians

    • December 21, 2012 at 11:53 am #

      Thanks for your feedback, Karine! And also thank you for sending me that link. I will share it in the new year- very informative!

  8. Kim
    January 8, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Hi Rosie, like you, I am a health/nutrition professional and I am getting tired about the wheat craze! I have helped 100’s of clients lose weight and achieve great health with and without wheat. I’ve also helped clients eliminate dairy, meat, citrus and various other foods to achieve health. Imagine if all the health pros were each to chose a single food as THE culprit to poor health, there would be nothing left to eat! Clearly, everyone requires a personalized approach.I’ve been around long enough to remember when fat was the culprit and reading about the raging success of low fat diets….we all know what happened with that. I think what we need to focus on is the QUALITY of our food, paying careful consideration to the addition of chemicals in the forms of preservatives, additives, and pesticides AND if it’s been genetically modified, all of which contribute to our overall toxic load. There is interesting research about toxic loads and the link to the rising incidence of food sensitivities. The only difference between health/nutrition professionals in the terms of who’s right and who’s wrong, is who sells the most books.

    • January 16, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Kim. I agree with you about wheat- it’s been needlessly vilified. A personalized approach is definitely in order but I do think that there are some general concerns that apply to many. Too much sodium in our food supply is a perfect example. As for food sensitivities,I think that there are a number of factors at work here. But I don’t agree that we can determine who is right and wrong by who sells the most books. It’s too bad that the lay public often believes this!

  9. Janice Evenson
    February 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    As always, moderation and variety is the key. Eating a variety of whole grains (wheat included) contributes to our overall health. And pairing the whole grain, whether it be rye, millet, wheat, oats, or quinoa with a complete protein and ample amounts of vegetables and fruits will help us feel satiated. When will we buy into that “trend”?! There is no quick fix, only sensible eating and exercise.

  10. beast
    March 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    Rosie you may not agree with the overall premise of the book, but my biggest take away was simply to eliminate processed foods and eat more whole foods. Breads and most wheat products fall into that category by default.

    In my personal experience simplifying my caloric intake to meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables and nuts (naturally occurring foods) I have improved my energy levels, I no longer need an alarm clock to wake up, I have lost stubborn belly fat (10% body fat now), I have eliminated food cravings and only need to eat 3 maybe 4 times a day, all while eating at a caloric deficit. I have since increased my food intake to maintenance level and almost have to force myself to eat that much food.

    Oh by the way I did all this without going low carb. I eat plenty of fruit (bananas/mangos) and I eat about 200+ g of carbs daily. The reason it has worked is because I don’t have the same hunger stimulation that I had when I was eating wheat. This has all been effortless and I doubt it would have been possible had I eaten a calorie restricted diet while eating wheat

    • March 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      Thanks for your comments and sharing your success. I think that you hit the nail on the head when you say the biggest take away is to eat more whole foods but I do think that this pattern can include wheat. It completely depends on the form/ wheat product and the meal balance. In my nutrition counselling practice, over many years, I have had numerous clients who suffer from constant hunger and low energy levels. But when they eliminate refined grains and combine whole grains such as wheat with adequate protein along with plenty of vegetables and fruit, they no longer have the same complaints as before.

  11. April McBride
    October 14, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    Having just read the book, I agree with much of what you have written – it’s just another low carb diet and the reason people – some people – are losing weight. They are also exercising. The book jacket states that all we need to do for optimum health is eliminate wheat alone. No wonder it’s on the bestseller list – people are desperate to lose weight and prevent diabetes and are relieved that this can be managed so easily, i.e., by just eliminating one substance from their diet. So they are eager to buy it.

    This blurb is misleading and I feel like an idiot for falling for it and buying it. This was a ploy to snag the desperate customer, who finds out later in the book that the concept is like the Emperor’s new clothes – it’s just a re-run of the Atkins diet, which works for a while after which no one can stand it because it’s unrealistic for most people. His passionate followers seem to aggressively attack any opinion to the contrary, especially those who argue that it’s just another low carb diet.

    But – he is right about one thing – simple carbs are, for me, sedating and addicting, mainly wheat ,because just about everything has it as an ingredient. If I eat a candy bar or doughnut, an hour later I want to eat ALL of them. Is it just wheat as the culprit? Probably not, but I am curious to find out since I have gastrointestinal problems and bloating. Who wouldn’t want to try something that claims to reverse diabetes and cure arthritis just by eliminating wheat? Eliminating wheat though, like the book’s cover states, is one thing. Refusing all grains and dairy and most fruit is another and I’m sure I’m not the only one annoyed at the deception.

    My timing was bad though. I started on Thanksgiving day – (Canada) and did not partake of anything containing wheat. I made my own cranberry sauce, eschewed gravy and made a little pumpkin tart with a walnut crust for myself.

    We’ll see. I’ll try it for a couple of weeks – eliminating wheat and only wheat, to see if what he claims on the book’s cover has any validity. Then I’ll report back.

    • October 14, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, April. I do have to say, though, that if you have symptoms you think are related to consuming wheat, it’s recommended that you be tested for celiac disease before eliminating it. The treatment for celiac disease is to completely rid your diet of ANY sources of gluten. Wheat is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sourves of gluten. A gluten-free diet is key to avoiding the long term complications of celiac disease. But if you eliminate wheat and then go for testing later, you could end up with a false negative and no diagnosis.

  12. kathy simpson
    September 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Rosie..
    thanks for your courage in questioning the ‘wheat belly’.
    I’ve only just heard about this wheat concern but immediately remembered the ‘come and gone’ trendy debates over popcorn and butter and eggs, just as starters.. AND chocolate, and coffee, and even WATER!!!

    One thing is certain, we do move in herds! And if folks could just exercise their brains long enough to apply the ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ cliche, they might at least avoid a few of the trappings of a complicated life.

    In ‘my’ little world, the very same folks that get excited about the latest
    ‘get rich quick’ theories toward weight loss, are the very same folks that cant seem to muster the energy, enthusiasm, or rationale to stick to a diet that includes plenty of vegies and water while NOT including fast food, fried food, desserts, sodas, breads, and even dining out.

    And “‘Exercise’!!? ..WHAT!!!? ..as if.”

    So for me, i’ll wait this one out and just keep trying to move my own priority-challenged self to the gym, all while munching on the boring, old as dirt foods that will keep me in the life game for as long as possible, reading about the next food and diet trends that i ‘should’ but ‘cant’ seem to swallow!

    Thanks, again, Rosie!!! -kathy

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] also contained gliadin) and can cause serious health issues for absolutely everyone. Several of my colleagues have commented on this new […]

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    […] experts like fellow media dietitian Rosie Schwartz and obesity expert and physician Yoni Freedhoff have slammed Dr. Davis’s theories. On his blog […]

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    […] My dear friend Rosie Schwartz also wrote an intelligent article on the wheat-free craze […]

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