Giving up Wheat

So you gave up wheat and it made no difference?

When someone suspects a wheat allergy, most are allergic to the gluten in wheat. Gluten is also found in oats, rye and barley and so these will have to be eliminated from the diet.

However some people are allergic to the wheat itself. In this case all the families of wheat will need to be avoided too. That includes: oats, rye, barley and sometimes soya and (although rarely) corn and rice. Malt is a sort of syrupy substance made from barley so this would have to be avoided in a gluten free or wheat free diet.

Close-up photo of a field of wheat

Gluten free products may not be wheat free and wheat free may not be gluten free.

Wheat is also present in food products when wheat itself is not listed in the ingredients. When you are looking at the ingredients’ listing on the food product, you may read glucose, or flavourings or preservatives. Glucose and flavourings are found in sauces, pickles, jams, marmalades, ketchup, salad cream and some mayonnaises. In fact glucose and flavourings are in most if not all prepared foods: for example soups and stock cubes.

If you are giving up wheat or gluten – every single item you buy in the supermarket apart from fresh raw vegetables and fresh raw meat (meat without marinades or spices) will need to be checked for their ingredient content. Cold meats from the deli may have flavourings or glucose added to enhance their taste or keeping properties. Most cheeses have wheat flour in them (to make them soft or hold them together) except the originally matured cheddars in their round hard skins. Mustard powder has wheat in it.

Why the need to be so rigorous? Surely if you gave just bread up you will feel better? How can such a tiny amount of wheat ie in glucose affect me?

Yes, if you have a wheat allergy and you give up bread you will feel better.

But not completely better. You will still have some symptoms.

After a period of time the brain forgets the distressing symptoms of before and remembers the way you are now; you will experiment by eating a piece of bread and find that you feel no different to the way you are now. So you will assume that you have no allergy to bread and you will eat it again. After a period of eating bread again, you will experience the distressing symptoms you had before but you will say: O I tried giving up wheat and it made little difference so I don’t think it is wheat.

Wheat is not just bread. It is not just bread, cakes and biscuits. Wheat is: bread, cake, biscuits, crackers, crisps, snacks, muesli bars, cereals, muesli and every single item of prepared foods from gravy granules to sauces to puddings to sweets and chocolate.

If you are allergic to a food you will be extremely sensitive to the tiniest amount of that food. So if you are experimenting to ‘see’ if you are allergic to a food you need to totally avoid it for 3 months and then slowly re-introduce. It is the total avoidance that is the difficulty but unless you do, you will never know if that food is causing your distressing symptoms.

When you begin a regime of wheat avoidance, make sure you have a selection of vegetables and fruit in your pantry. If you eat before you get too hungry, you will find that giving up wheat is not so arduous. If you don’t eat until you are starving, you will be desperate to eat bread or a snack bar. Your brain gets desperate for sugars (the brain feeds off quick releasing sugars called glucose) and so initiates hunger pangs to force you to get its necessary source of energy and if you are starving it will be craving sugars from quick releasing sources such as the starches found in bread and biscuits. Quite frankly, unless you are diabetic half a teaspoonful of sugar (golden granulated) will satisfy the brain until you can eat properly.

So think WAR DIET when you have to give up wheat. During the war and before it, everything was home made. Yes naturally they used wheat but they didn’t have the prepared foods or the additives we have today. When they made soup they only used vegetables and a stock they had made themselves from boiling the bones of the meat they had eaten the day before. You can’t eat the bread and the cakes they used to make but you can prepare your own soups for a quick snack. You can make your own type of muesli from sunflower seeds, nuts and fresh fruit covered with yoghurt and honey. (Which is really delicious!)

I thought I used to eat healthily but it was when I gave up wheat that I actually did begin to eat good food.

Good food is only fruit, vegetables, pulses, (grains) and meat. Fresh from the garden or the farm. That is the only food you need to buy excluding the grains you cannot tolerate. And you make what you need from that. It is a real nuisance about the cheese unless you can afford the hard original cheddar. However manufacturers are getting the message and there are products available that say gluten free although this is not wheat free.

Organic food produce still won’t give you wheat free because the distressing ingredients will still be in the food but they are made from organic produce.

The bonus to this diet is that you will feel better.

Symptoms of wheat allergy:
Skin conditions – rashes
Stomach and bowel gas
Desperate need to sleep causing short temper

The reaction to eating wheat may not present itself for a few days or even weeks after eating the suspected food, which may make you think that you are not allergic because you haven’t reacted around the time of eating it.

If, after the rigorous diet, your own list of symptoms disappears you will know that you are allergic to wheat.

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