Anne sat across from me, bent over and sobbing.
“I can’t do it. I just can’t do it! I cut out the breads and pasta for two days, then I start dreaming about it!
“And my husband is no help. He knows I’m trying to get off the wheat. But then he brings home a bunch of Danish or something. He knows I can’t help myself!”
Having asked hundreds of people to completely remove wheat from their diet, I witness 30% of them go through such emotional and physical turmoil, not uncommonly to the point of tears. For about 10-20% of people who try, it is as hard as quitting cigarettes.
Make no mistake about it: For many people, wheat is addictive. It meets all the criteria for an addictive product: People crave it, consuming it creates a desire for more, lacking it triggers a withdrawal phenomenon. If wheat were illegal, there would surely be an active underground trafficking illicit bagels and pretzels.
Withdrawal consists of fatigue and mental fogginess that usually lasts 5-7 days. Just like quitting smoking, wheat withdrawal is harmless but no less profound in severity.
People who lack an addictive relationship with wheat usually have no idea what I’m talking about. To them, wheat is simply a grain, no different than oats.
But wheat addicts immediately know who they are. They are the ones who can’t resist the warm dinner rolls served at the Italian restaurant, need to include something made of wheat at every meal, and crave it every 2 hours (matching the cycle of blood sugar peaks and valleys, the “valley” triggering the craving). When they stop the flow of immediately-released glucose that comes from wheat (with blood sugar peaks that occur higher and faster than table sugar), irresistible cravings kick in. Then watch out: They’ll bite your hand off if you reach for that roll before they do.
Break the cycle and the body is confused: Where’s the sugar? The body is accustomed to receiving a constant flow of easily-digested sugars.
Once the constant influx of sugars ceases, it takes 5-7 days for metabolism to shift towards fat mobilization as a source of energy. But along with fat mobilization comes a shrinking tummy, reducing the characteristic wheat belly.
If you try to quit smoking, you’ve got “crutches” like nicotine patches and gum, Zyban, Chantix, hypnosis, and group therapy sessions. If you try and quit wheat, what have you got? Nothing, to my knowledge. Nothing but sheer will power to divorce yourself from this enormously destructive, diabetes-causing, small LDL-increasing, inflammation-provoking, and addictive substance.
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