Here we go again. Using the term “poison” to describe our food supply. When I listen to folks like this, I basically want to pull my air out. Comparing gliadin to morphine? (gliadin is a protein in wheat) What?

“It’s a perfectly crafted poison to make you gain stomach weight”.

Poison? Really?

That’s what Dr. William Davis says. He thinks that “today’s wheat” isn’t the wheat of our grandmother’s day (which by the way also contained gliadin) and can cause serious health issues for absolutely everyone. Several of my colleagues have commented on this new diet.

Sure Davis’ followers have lost weight. Rapid weight loss will certainly occur when anyone adheres to a very low calorie diet. People don’t realize as they eliminate wheat, that they simultaneously eliminate hundreds of calories daily. Most people who go on these types of fad diets are consuming a lot of packaged foods in the first place. When they are forced to eat more whole foods, and eliminate an entire food group, they lose weight. When wheat is eliminated, carbohydrate intake is likely low, and this promotes even more dramatic weight loss (often the body goes into ketosis – a condition in which ketone bodies build up in the blood. This is how low-carb diets work – when there’s not enough glucose to burn, the body switches to fat-burning mode, which creates the ketones. High ketone levels can be toxic, and may damage the liver and kidneys over time).

Also of interest, is that folks who go “on” these types of fad diets, are often more prone to “drop out” eventually, and then regain all the weight they lost. So in the long-term, these diets do not result in more successful weight loss over time. Don’t go there!

Many of my colleagues have already reviewed this hot topic of using wheat-free, gluten-free diets as fads, and so have I, but I felt it was worth putting my two cents in about the “wheat belly” spin. I don’t believe in banning certain foods or entire food groups. I would rather have my jaw wired shut and drink through a straw than live the rest of my life without pasta, toast and good crackers. So let’s take a look at how “wheat” (read: too many servings from the grain group) may be a real problem, without having to completely abolish it from your life. Consider this:

  • Women shift from storing fat in the hips and thighs to laying down fat in the mid region after age 45 or so – once child-bearing years are closing. So that spare tire has as much to do with age and genetics as it does the overall 250 extra calories you are eating each day that you probably don’t need (me included – a constant work in progress). Yes, those calories may indeed be coming from the “bread group”, so just be aware, don’t shun.
  • A balanced diet is one that includes 3-5 servings of fruit daily and 3-5 servings of vegetables daily. Did you eat yours today? Or have you just eaten 12 servings from the bread group?
  • Bagels have gotten too darn big. Purchase mini bagels and have one with a fresh piece of fruit or a small chunk of cheese or an egg, instead of just one humongous bagel.
  • Try to keep your grain servings to just 1-2 per meal for women, or 2-3 per meal for men. A serving is small – 1/2 cup pasta; 1 slice of bread; half a bun (that foot-long sub is 7 servings of bread)

My Christmas wish?

Don’t buy into the alarmists. In the new year, I hope that my readers begin to appreciate the registered dietitian over the fad-diet-pushing doctors or trainers or other self-proclaimed diet-gurus. Really, my goal is your long-term health and wellness. This includes peace of mind and well as a sound body – which may or may not fit into skinny jeans. Let’s appreciate that a healthy and fit body comes in many shapes and sizes….that can enjoy a slice of toast with their tea.


Addendum: Read this article for additional analysis about the diet.