Cutting the Crap: Saying Goodbye to Wheat, Starches and Refined Sugars

Throughout past journeys to lose weight and become healthy, I’ve learned that I can work out until I pass out or throw up but still not lose weight. Unfortunately, I also have to watch what I eat. This proves to be particularly hard for me — I am a sugar and bread addict. If it’s disgustingly bad for you, I want it: Oreos, gummy worms, cake, chocolate, any form of starchy goodness. But in my defense, I do love fruits and vegetables. However, I usually pair my orange with a Diet Coke or wash down my asparagus with a Cherry Pepsi. What’s a girl to do?

I don’t know when my obsession with sweets and carbs started, though I have an inkling that it began in the back of the donut shop my grandpa owned when I was growing up. I have vivid memories of running around the huge brown bags of flour and sugar, dipping my finger in the rainbow sprinkles and causing trouble. I loved eating donuts, but as a child, I also loved being outside and doing physical activity, which as we all know, I don’t do now. I was never reprimanded for eating candy or sweets because it was never a real issue.

However, this was the early ‘90s and it was a different America.  Juvenile diabetes and childhood obesity were not subjects of hot topic debate and there were no 5k walks to combat them. The fat kids were expected to grow out of their baby fat and if not, they would soon find solace on the internet. Heck, Fen-phen was still a legitimate way to lose weight and keep your kitchen sparkling clean! It was a simpler time and an entirely different world.

These days we all know the kid with the life-threatening peanut allergy or our poor friend who can’t eat ice cream because of lactose intolerance and I’ve recently joined their sad ranks. After my recent gallbladder surgery, I experienced excruciating stomach pain and unmentionable bodily functions, and concluded that my body was staging a mutiny.

I was advised that these were not good signs and headed to the emergency room. The attending doctor recommended that I cut out wheat products and see if that made a difference in how I felt. I was skeptical because I felt that this was an allergy I would have known about by now. However, after just a few days of cutting out wheat, I felt amazing: energy levels were up, my stomach was feeling fabulous and I was a happy camper.

Being the stubborn girl I am, I had to test out the theory of my wheat allergy and make sure it wasn’t just a placebo effect. A week after my initial diagnosis I tested it by eating some bread and cookies (I told you I was a sucker for sugar). The effects weren’t immediate. I thought maybe I was fine, maybe I had been tricking myself into thinking this was a miracle solution. The next morning though, I was hurting; terrible headache, stomachache, weak, lethargic. I swore off wheat and vowed never to go back.

The wheat-free diet isn’t easy: I have to check labels on everything and wheat-free food tends to be more expensive. However, there are stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods that make it much easier.

On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I struck up a conversation with a woman over my favorite wheat-free pancakes, and it turned out that she had also just had her gallbladder removed and was living wheat-free. I also have friends on the internet who are fountains of knowledge and keep me updated on the newest recipes. Knowing that I’m not alone in this is a huge motivator and a great help in dealing with the symptoms and woes.

I don’t know how long I’ll have to be wheat-free. It may be just a few months or it may be forever, but I do feel so much better and I’m committed to improving my health.

If you’re having trouble losing weight and find yourself feeling sluggish, take a look at your diet; cut back on refined sugar and processed foods or add some fruits or vegetables. By respecting your body and listening to its needs, you will have greater energy and begin living to your full potential. Enjoy!

NOTE: Please consult your doctor before beginning any diet change or exercise routine.