Since I wrote it less than a month ago, my post entitled “Is Wheat Bad For You?” has been far and away the biggest driver of traffic to my site. This is fascinating to me, because while I write about following the Primal Blueprint on occasion, this is not the main topic area of my blog. But in less than a month, it’s coming up on 1,000 views.
People aren’t coming from direct links, either. They’re searching Google. They’re trying to figure it out. They want to know what the deal is with wheat. This tells me that this is an issue that is rising to the level of public consciousness. I’m willing to bet (prediction alert!) that within the next five to ten years, the problems wheat is causing in the Standard American Diet will be major health news. It will be the kind of thing you’re hearing about in major news outlets. It will become a focus of healthcare providers, in much the same way that a low-carb diet has become an increasingly standardized part of weight loss. Hopefully, we’ll even see additional science on this, which will shed further light on wheat-related health issues.
But until then, if you’ve chosen (choice being the key word here) to cut out wheat from your diet and you haven’t been diagnosed with a gluten issue or celiac disease (which would mean you have no choice), be aware that what you’re doing will appear to be nothing short of crazy to almost everyone around you. And you’re going to upset people. Your dietary restrictions will cause conflict. You will be a pariah at parties. I’m going to start busting into alliteration if I don’t stop now.
You can’t eat sandwiches. You can’t have fresh bread. No toast, bagels, or muffins. Crackers are a no-go. You can’t eat pasta. You’ve broken up with cakes, cookies, and doughnuts. You can’t even eat many cereals. If you’re like me and you’ve also given up (except for the occasional indulgence) all other grains, legumes, and most sugars, you also knock out anything made with beans, or rice, or potatoes, or oats, or barley, or rye, or…you get the picture. It’s not that there aren’t lots of things you can eat, it’s just that most of us have grown up eating most of the things that are on the forbidden list. Those are hard habits to break, especially if you don’t believe that it’s important.
Wheat is a staple in the lives of most people in Western Civilization. Taking out the daily bread is a big deal. Asking people not to bring wheat products over when they visit (this is especially important if you’ve taken your little kids off of it; I’d be less strict if it was just myself) or trying to politely tell people that you’ll have to avoid many of the foods they make can offend people. It can hurt feelings. It can break family traditions. It can cause fights.
When I chose to give up wheat, this was never what I intended to have happen. But I am strict about it – have to be strict about it – because my health and the health of my family is extremely important to me. My kids don’t know why they had to give up pancakes and spaghetti and rolls and cookies and cake and so many of the things that they loved. They don’t understand that with their family history of early heart disease, diabetes, and ADD (among other things) that it just isn’t worth it and the habits will be easier to break now rather than later. They can’t fathom why something so common in most people’s kitchens can be so bad. And they’ve been good sports about the alternatives we provide to them. My wife does a great job with the substitutions, and she’s a fantastic cook no matter what ingredients she’s working with. But if I put an almond flour cookie or a pumpkin pancake on their plate next to a plate with the real thing, I think they’ll still choose the real thing. If I have the option of giving them real spaghetti with meatballs or spaghetti squash with meatballs, I’m pretty sure they’ll pick the real spaghetti. So I try to keep those things off the table entirely until they’ve really adapted to this way of eating for the longer term. And when you have get-togethers with people who don’t get it, or don’t care, you’d be surprised how upset people will get.
When I commit to something, I go all-in. I’ve lost almost 30 lbs. in three months, and I’m not stopping. I feel better, I have more energy, I get more done. I have the desire to exercise on a regular basis, which is also new. I feel confident that I have vastly improved my health, and have improved my quality of life and life expectancy as well.
But I’ve started some arguments and hurt some feelings as well, which I regret. I’m passionate about this, and that’s sometimes good and sometimes bad. If you’re making this change in your life, expect some resistance, and plan to deal with it as diplomatically as possible. Wheat is something that millions of people are used to eating (and probably addicted to) and while choosing to eat it can be bad for your health, choosing not to can cause problems with your family and friends.
My advice? Try to tread lightly. And let the proof be in the results.