I’m addicted to wheat.
I’m not sure when it started. Maybe the very first bite of cereal or cookie as a child. Maybe during high school when I jumped on the high carb muscle builder band wagon. It could have been in college when I ate a regular menu of bagel for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner. And desserts of course.
At the time, of course, I didn’t connect my diet to joint pains, knotted muscles, headaches, and mood swings. I attributed those to hard workouts, sports, and lack of sleep. Which probably didn’t help. But the problems persisted past college and into my mid-twenties, when I wasn’t playing rugby. I nailed down wheat as the culprit after much research and experimentation.
So, simple, now I stop eating wheat, and problems go away. Actually, this is exactly what happened. I started a hardcore wheat restriction for six months, eating rice for dinner and butter coffee with eggs, bacon, and no toast for breakfast. Things changed rapidly. Mood swings, joint pains, knots, headaches retreated and then vanished. I was a different person.
And then I had a dessert. A sweet bread or something, I don’t even remember. And when I do dessert, I really do dessert. I felt groggy, irritable, and achy. Then I fell asleep on the floor where I sat. When I woke up a couple of hours later, I felt miserable. I had the trademark headache, a hungover feeling, and just anger.
The tricky thing is that I never noticed how hard it was to not eat wheat until I began to avoid it.
For several days following this night, I kept craving bread, pasta, desserts. I just had this silent, inner urge to eat them. It was very strange. But now I understand it. I’ve gone through this cycle many times since. Why I would ever touch something with wheat in it, I still have trouble figuring. But that’s how addiction works.
I think I am truly addicted to wheat. Along with many, many, many other people. I’m pretty sure if everyone tried to do without it forever, people would find it a much harder task than it seems. And not because there’s a lack of nutrition that can replace it. I see the same symptoms in wheat addicts as those who are addicted to narcotics. Denial, craving, relapse, remorse.
Now, wheat is not as dangerous as cocaine or heroin. Is it? Perhaps not. But look at what Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, says:
“If you have an addictive relationship with wheat, e.g. one pretzel or one Twizzler (yes: wheat is the second ingredient) makes you want to eat the whole bag, then complete avoidance is also advisable. Because wheat triggers cravings that people often cannot stop once it starts, it is best to avoid wheat-containing foods altogether.
Many people who remove wheat from their diet have what I call “wheat re-exposure reactions” experienced as abdominal cramps, gas, and diarrhea (just like food poisoning); asthma attacks; joint swelling and pain; and emotional effects such as anxiety in women and rage in men.”
I second that phrase, “rage in men”. It is no joke. I get rage.
So, like many other addicts, I take a step toward recovery. I tell you, my name is Steve, and I am an addict.