30 days without wheat: the end, and looking back

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on my wheat-free diet, I thought I’d post the results.

But first, let’s recall the ground rules:

  • No wheat. This means no wheat-based breads, tortillas, beer, etc. The food selection process would be based on a combination of common sense and reading labels.
  • Try to maintain my caloric intake. I didn’t want to skew the results by intentionally “dieting” here. I decided to throw away flour tortillas and buy corn tortillas, get sugary (but fresh and in season) fruit for snacks, drink wine instead of hefeweizen, etc.
  • Continue existing exercise routine. of light-moderate cardio for 30-45 min/day.
  • Allow myself a one meal exception for the entire 30 days (a pizza event I already had planned.)

Based on those rules, I had a few potential results in mind to look out for:

There were two main factors I was looking for in this experiment: weight and the more difficult to quantify general “feeling.” Theoretically lowering your blood sugar should cause both weight loss and lethargy. Giving up something as addictive as morphine shouldn’t be pleasant either. But there was also the possibility that I’d “feel” healthier if wheat is linked to inflammation and joint pain.

Simple enough, right? Almost! One thing I neglected to account for was that I might eat wheat by accident. On two occasions I took a single bite of a desert before realizing it had wheat in it. I only mention this because sometimes these diets can be trickier than expected.

I also did a terrible job weighing myself for the first 10 days, something that I don’t think skewed the results much (as you’ll see shortly) but I could have done a better job and keeping track in the beginning.

So, how did I do with sticking to the rules? To put it simply: not bad.

Avoiding wheat was never all that difficult. I take serious issue with the idea that wheat is “addictive” because I simply didn’t find this to be the case at all.

Now on to the results.

As for weight? Zero difference. I made up for the carbs in other ways, and I still weigh what I weighed a year ago.

That said it does seem like wheat is “empty calories.” It’s easy to eat a bunch of bread, pizza, etc. compared to say a bunch of cheese or vegetables. You can keep eating bread without feeling full and that’s not a good thing. Thing is, you can do the same with chips and fries. Carbs are easy to snack on because they don’t make your stomach feel full, so eliminating wheat might be enough for some people to lose weight.

At the 10 day mark I did feel “really lethargic,” which I thought might be a result of the promised lowered blood sugar. But that feeling quickly went away. Compared to my attempts at low carb diets in the past, I now suspect it was unrelated to diet.

I can’t say the diet really made me feel any better or any worse. It was so easy to stick to that I considered going a few more days for the hell of it, but ultimately decided to return to wheat so I could sum up my experiment.

But the diet was not a total loss! There was one positive result that I did not expect. As I wrote at the 20 day mark:

There is one positive change that I didn’t anticipate. My skin has never looked better. I’m starting to think I might have been wrong about my acne. Could it be a simple wheat allergy? Or is there another variable at play here?

Guess what? Now that I’m back to wheat the acne came back and my skin took on a reddish tint. Now again, this couldn’t have been due to a lack of carbs because I ate foods with corn and potatoes in them. So what caused this? Does my skin have a wheat gluten allergy?

A few minutes of Googling suggests this is within the realm of possibility. Could our fetish for bread is the reason us European-blooded folks have such terrible skin?

Soon I’ll embark on another “30 day” journey. Not sure what the theme will be yet: check back and find out soon.