For my November Eating for Change Challenge, I tackled the Wheat Belly Detox—10 days going completely without any wheat, in any form.
Now, in its simplest conception, eliminating wheat is not a huge issue for me. But to feel the true benefits of going wheat-free, it takes more than just cutting out the wheat.
This challenge is based on the book Wheat Belly by William Davis. There is a lot of good information and enlightening moments while reading the book, but I will say, at first glance, Davis has a very black-and-white approach. He mentions more than once how wheat is worse than sugar. It is higher on the glycemic index, which affects our blood sugar more severely, and is just as addictive. But without a background in understanding that we should still avoid sugar and eliminate it as much as possible from your diet, it would be very easy for a newcomer to this program to make the switch from eating crackers to chocolate bars…because, no wheat, it’s fine, right?
Not so fast. Eventually, I read a passage, albeit about “whole grain” wheat that helped explain a little of “if it’s not AS BAD for you, then it’s healthy” mentality that Davis advocates.
“Studies conducted during the eighties and since have shown that, when processed white flour products are replaced with whole grain flour products, there is a reduction in colon cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. That is indeed true and indisputable.
According to accepted dietary wisdom, if something that is bad for you (white flour) is replaced by something less bad (whole wheat), then lots of that less-bad thing must be great for you.” Wheat Belly by William Davis
Much much later in the book, when detailing the 10-day detox challenge, Davis finally pinpoints foods that should be avoided along with wheat for optimal health. Among the banned foods include sugar, gluten-free starches (corn starch, potato starch and even tapioca, which I always assumed was fine since it was keto friendly), gluten-free products like pizza crusts, pastries, and breads, fried foods (often breaded with wheat) and several other foods that have NOTHING to do with wheat—dried fruits, sugary foods, sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, and honey, and “unhealthy” oils (canola oil and soybean oil).
So, it’s called Wheat Belly Detox, but it’s really a High Glycemic Index Detox.
I will admit my big faux pas was NOT finishing the book before starting the challenge. So I wasn’t aware of getting rid of all the sugar as well. I don’t typically eat a lot of sugar, nor do I typically eat a lot of wheat. I didn’t check ingredients for sugar. But I checked for wheat, gluten, and the gluten-free alternatives (except Day 1…).
Here are my meals for the ten-day detox:
Day 1: Keto Pizza (made with tapioca flour, so whoops)
Day 2: Roasted Veggies with Tahini Dressing
Day 3: Pumpkin Chili (that’s chili cooked inside a pumpkin)
Day 4: Potato Leek Soup
Day 5: Clean the fridge leftovers, later I had tuna
Day 6: Keto Italian Soup (delicious—tomatoes, green beans, veggies, pumpkin, the works there)
Day 7: Tuna Steaks with Sesame Seed with parsnips and brussels sprouts
Day 8: A Vegan Meatball Stew (made with Impossible Burger, which the ingredients check out for this program)
Day 9: Curry Soup with Chickpeas and Vegan Paleo Cauliflower Gratin
Day 10: Reception Dinner at DECO conference—I ate the nuts, fruit, and cheese provided, but proudly stayed away from the dried fruit and potato chips
Bonus Day 11: Stayed clear of the sandwiches for lunch and avoided the breaded foods at the dinner event—ate shrimp, hummus, veggies, smoked salmon, and had a hard cider
I am thinking about revisiting this idea of a High Glycemic Detox after Thanksgiving (I made pie, cookies, and other treats, as it is my birthday, and because I wanted to) weekend, pairing it with my next challenge, Intermittent Fasting. And this time, I’ll focus on no sweeteners, no dried fruits, and limiting other fruits, legumes, and dairy products.
Wheat Belly did provide some food for thought, though. I’ve been listening to a few other books, mainly Food Fix by Mark Hyman, and folks, the Food Industry is as nefarious as the Tobacco and Oil industries, and as cutthroat as the gun lobbyists.
From just Wheat Belly’s perspective, there was some damning statements that, well, it just jives with A LOT of information I’ve been reading and studying lately.
“’Eat more healthy whole grains’ is really just the corollary of the “cut the fat” movement embraced by the medical establishment in the sixties. Based on epidemiologic observations that suggested that higher dietary fat intakes are associated with higher cholesterol levels and risk for heart disease, Americans were advised to reduce total and saturated fat intake. Grain-based foods came to replace the calorie gap left by reduced fat consumption. The whole-grain-is-better-than-white argument further fueled the transition. The low-fat more grain message also proved enormously profitable for the processed food industry. It triggered an explosion of processed food products, most requiring just a few pennies worth of basic materials. Wheat flour, cornstarch, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and food coloring are now the main ingredients of products that fill the interior aisles of any modern supermarket. (Whole ingredients such as vegetables, meats, and dairy tend to be at the perimeter of these same stores.) Revenues for Big Food companies swelled. Kraft alone now generates $48 billion in annual revenues, and 1800% increase since the late eighties, a substantial portion of which comes from the wheat- and corn-based snacks.“- Wheat Belly by William Davis
This kind of knowledge is infuriating, but also empowering. Seven years ago, I gave up palm oil, and in the process most processed foods, from a similar discovery. Palm oil is a common ingredient that is responsible for devastating the tropical Asian rainforests. This made it easy to start saying no to foods that use conflict or questionable palm oil.
The Food Industry is as greedy as the oil companies, and frankly, more nefarious. They fund junk science research to confuse consumers, and they create addictions with wheat, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.
This is something I can see me completely adhering to for now and the future. Perhaps not giving up ALL the detox restrictions or limitations (such as fruit, legumes, and gluten-free flours), since I do practice a more vegetarian/flexitarian diet, but the idea of cutting out wheat does seem to work well for me in a sustainable fashion.
I did not see any weight change during my detox, nor a significant change in my energy. I’m working on a secondary program, called Energize, that I will be detailing a bit more next month, along with my next challenge, the Fast Diet. It’ll be interesting to see how many of these challenges and lifestyles can be combined to create my personal “perfect program.”
How about you? Could you give up all wheat for 10 days? What foods do you know probably aren’t serving you that you feel you just can’t live without? Could you try to cut them out for a week to see if your suspicions are correct? Try it out. It’s a great practice, and a great experiment.
See you next month, coming super FAST.