Dr. Helen

Losing the Wheat Belly and Becoming a (Partially Crippled) Supple Leopard

I decided recently that my health sucked and spending my days at the doctor or physical therapist’s office did not sound like a good time. So I picked up Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health and Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance and dropped them on my desk to read everyday to keep myself on track.

The theory behind the Wheat Belly book is that wheat in its current form is bad for you:

Over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat every day. As a result, over 100 million experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes to high blood sugar to unattractive stomach bulges preventative cardiologist William Davis calls “wheat bellies.” According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: it’s due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch.

After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic–and that elimination of wheat is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In national bestseller, Dr. Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as “wheat”–and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new wheat-free lifestyle

At first, I thought the wheat theory didn’t ring true for me. I had gone to a gastroenterologist who tested me for Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and the tests were negative. But my husband told me to try giving up wheat for a while just to see if I might feel better. I must say I was skeptical but for the past week I gave up wheat and I do feel ….better. Not great, but better than I did. My stomach and hands were always swollen and I attributed that to heart problems. After a week off wheat, my stomach is flatter and I notice that the rings on my hand are easier to get off and on. I am not as hungry as I was and now that I can eat a ton of protein for every meal, I am not as desperate for something sweet all day. The cravings are still there, but not as bad.

So how do you give yourself a radical wheat-ectomy? According to the book, you stop eating foods such as snack foods, rice, potatoes and grains. This wasn’t tough for me as I don’t eat that much of these foods, but I do eat wheat for lunch most days in the form of pita bread or plain toast so I quit. So what do you eat? Vegetables, raw nuts, oil, meat and eggs, dairy products, coffee, tea, and some chocolate if you want something sweet.

This is tough for me as I am allergic to vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and a host of others as well as chocolate. Dr. Davis isn’t a fan of oatmeal but since the book mentioned that it wasn’t terrible, I stuck with that for breakfast, egg whites and cheese for lunch and meat and vegetables that I could tolerate for dinner. The big problem with this diet are the snacks or lack thereof. The book has recipes such as Dark Chocolate Tofu Mousse and Ginger Spice cookies, but I can’t eat chocolate and making cookies for me doesn’t sound promising. Dr. Davis suggests you eat cheese, so I ate most of the single servings of cheese my husband had in the fridge for his own snacks and that seemed to work if I was hungry in the afternoon.

The biggest problem is at night because I love frozen yogurt, jelly beans and anything sweet. I have been reduced to eating some almonds though I cracked and eat them covered with yogurt. I am sure the good doctor would not approve of this substitution but hell, I was just glad I made it through the day without bread or too many carbs.I haven’t lost an ounce but I do feel better and somewhat more energetic which is my main goal.

My other goal is to get rid of the pain in my neck, shoulders and iliotibial band (IT band) from sitting and writing so much of the time. I don’t mind having some pain as I enjoy writing and blogging enough that it is worth some pain. However, at times, the pain is severe and is self-inflicted as I know that I could do better. I tend to focus on the computer screen for hours without lifting my head and this is terrible for one’s health. I am trying to get in the habit of reading over chapters of Becoming a Supple Leopard at night and then incorporating some of the mobility exercises in the book during the day while working or writing.

One of the most helpful exercises I found in the book is the bracing sequence that shows how to go through a series of steps while standing to improve your posture. I must say that I do have a few reservations about the book. It is so big and cumbersome, it’s hard to find certain exercises in it and it has so many steps for some exercises that it is confusing. There needs to be a compact version of the book for those of us who want a few simple tips and illustrations. This much detail is not really necessary for the average person. That said, the book and pictures are good and I feel that they have helped me with my pain level.

Well, for the cost of two books, you too can be on your way to health or just pick them up and read them for free at the library or bookstore.