Wheat Withdrawal: 10 Tips for Success
My husband finally made the decision to stop eating wheat a few years ago to has had only a few minor flare ups since. What a difference is not only how he feels, but in his attitude in general. He was fortunate enough to not have many wheat withdrawal symptoms because we took it nice and slow.
About 4 days into the elimination process, his body was telling him that something had changed and his body wasn’t happy. For people like him who crave carbs and eat a lot of them every day, this can be a difficult transition period. Thank goodness it only lasts a few days!! Fortunately, he stuck with it (because he didn’t have any more burning!) and told me that he doesn’t plan to return to eating wheat again. He’d suffered with acid reflux for 20+ years and he was looking forward to many years ahead without any more pain!
What is “Wheat Withdrawal”?
In my research, I found that 40% of people who eliminate wheat from their diet will experience something called a wheat withdrawal. Their bodies are reacting to the withdrawal from the opiates, part of the gliadin protein of wheat. When you consume wheat, it not only affects the body, but also the brain. Once your body gets used to craving wheat, getting its “wheat fix,” and this is repeated several times each day, every day, I’m sure you can understand why your body wants more. But the problem isn’t only in the proteins and gluten of wheat. You also have to take into consideration:
- how your body responds to wheat or gluten in the wheat
- the amount of pesticides found in and on wheat
- how much the seeds have been genetically altered
- the condition of the soil
- where the wheat was grown
I’m sure you’re familiar with the affects of people who are addicted to heroin or morphine? When they don’t get their next dose, they experience the typical signs of nausea, headache, fatigue, lightheadedness, depression, and overwhelming cravings. Their body is telling them that something has changed from what it was used to, and it’s not happy. Similarly, someone who eliminates wheat suddenly from their diet develops some similar reactions, though less severe. Their body is simply reacting to the lack of the substance, and within a few days, it will adjust. So should you brave the test to eliminate wheat from your diet, give your body a chance to transition naturally. Trust me, you will NOT regret it!
Ten tips to help you succeed with wheat elimination
If you are considering eliminating wheat and gluten from your diet and you want to lessen the withdrawal effect, consider any or all of these tips:
- Choose a good time to go through the process – make sure you have several days where you will experience no or low stress. This means, if you can take a few days off work before or after a weekend, that’s the perfect scenario to give this a go.
- Be kind to yourself – consider doing only relaxing things during your testing period such as getting a massage, watching a funny movie, going for an easy walk, get involved in a fun project or just take time to play with the kids.
- Put strenuous exercise aside for a few days – you don’t want to put extra stress on the body.
- Hydrate well, especially in the morning – pamper your body with lots of water to help your digestive tract move things along. Pay attention to the color of your urine; it should be rather clear, not yellow first thing in the mornings. This indicates you are hydrating well.
- Consider snacking on raw sweet vegetables to satisfy any cravings for sweet things (carrots, beats, green beans, peas). These foods help with the withdrawal process too.
- Expect to lose a few pounds. Yep, you heard that right. Wheat produces visceral fat that accumulates around the stomach and organs. Loose the wheat and you loose the fat!
- Remember that this is only a temporary process and on your fifth or sixth day, you will begin to feel much better. So don’t give up and don’t give in to the cravings wheat products naturally produces.
- Call it what it is – your body is addicted to the opiates in the protein of wheat. If you want to make a lifestyle change, you have to go “cold turkey” for at least 3 weeks….preferably 3 months.
- Look for healthy gluten-free recipes here. Everyday we are adding more healthy recipe options to make your life easier. Here is a list of gluten-free foods you can also enjoy. There is a huge world of healthy gluten-free alternatives to wheat.
Want to bring wheat gradually back into your diet? Do these things:
- ONLY eat quality wheat products! Consider organic wheat products, non-GMO wheat products and even consider traditional wheat products made with Einkorn wheat (found in your natural food store’s freezer department). Use an observational log to keep track of how you feel throughout the days ahead.
- Read all labels! Know what you put into your mouth! Please don’t go out and purchase gluten-free junk food items to replace wheat products. Those products simply replace wheat with a variety of starches that also raise blood sugar levels. They too convert to sugar in the body and add to your visceral fat. Once you start reading labels, you will notice how much wheat is in almost everything! It all adds up to fat, heartburn, headaches, digestive problems, brain fog and wheat cravings, just to name a few.
- Be picky about what wheat containing items you do plan to eat. If you’re offered many opportunities to eat wheat products during the work day and you have some awesome chewy brownies waiting at home, be bold and WAIT. Enjoy your one brownie–okay maybe two–and celebrate your restraint. No amount of will power is enough when dealing with the powerful cravings of wheat! Instead, be choosy and place limits on what you do eat.
How we can help you?
Would you like to learn how to help yourself or a family member eliminate wheat from the diet? Are you curious how to start the process and how to stick with it? Then let’s talk! All you have to do is to click here to schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or share this offer with someone you care about! I’d be happy to support you in your efforts to live a gluten-free lifestyle.
How did you manage changing to a gluten-free lifestyle? Please share your comments below to help our readers learn more and be successful in their journey.
Cathy lives in Roanoke, Virginia and specializes in supporting families who desire to change their relationship with health–the way they eat, feel and live. She is a certified Health Coach & Educator with a strong passion for supporting each client in their journey to feel stronger, healthier, and more energetic. Cathy presents workshops online and locally and regularly talks about real food, fitness, natural living, and all things ADHD.
Cathy is the creator and director of the Holistic Wellness Academy, an online training platform that will soon provide other wellness advocates a place to share their expertise with their clients so they too can learn how to eat smart, move more, feel better and live longer.