…a lifetime change
The New Year is often a time when we reflect the good and the bad, and we usually make some serious promises that we will change our ways. Rather than putting so much pressure on ourselves and deciding a diet is the plan after all the Christmas festivities…we'd be far better off making a few small changes to our diets, ones that will last us a lifetime. Look at our diets, so full of wheat, nearly every carb we touch is laden with wheat. Look closely at each meal – cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner. Result: wheat-overload, system-overload, unrefined carb and sugar overload. What about all the other delicious grains out there, that are great substitutes for wheat, are better for you, add variety to your diet and additional nutrients?
The ugly truths behind wheat flour
Highly processed white flour is missing the two most nutritious and fibre-rich parts of the seed: the outside bran layer and the germ. A diet rich in refined foods leaves many people malnourished, constipated and vulnerable to chronic illness.
The more refined foods a person eats, the more insulin must be produced to manage it. Insulin promotes the storage of fat, making way for rapid weight gain and elevated fat levels, which can lead to heart disease. Over time, the pancreas gets so overworked that insulin production grinds to a halt, and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) or diabetes sets in. Either way, the body is getting little or no fuel from the food you eat (wheat flour, especially white bread) and tries to convert muscle and fat into energy. The constant refined sugar/refined flour intake places a continual stress on the body.
Wheat also contains a protein called gluten that promotes inflammation in the body and also causes the gut to become leaky. The more wheat a person eats, the more leaky their gut gets. Some people have coeliac disease which means that they also have a destructive immune response to the gluten which basically eats at their intestines and causes huge problems.
White bread is dead bread. Why is the colour of white bread so white when the flour taken from wheat is not? It’s because the flour used to make white bread is chemically bleached. So you are getting absolutely no vitamins. You might as well be eating cardboard. Have I convinced you enough to change your wheat habits?
So, how do I start a wheat-free living diet plan?
At first, looking for wheat alternatives is challenging, but the reward for wheat-free living is better health and wellbeing. Following a wheat-free diet involves cutting out all products made from wheat and wheat flours, such as breads, crackers, biscuits and pasta to name a few. You'd be surprised where wheat can crop up – sauces, cocktail sausages, and soup to name a few. Here’s my best advice: shop around and be willing to try some new grains, even if you can't pronounce them!
To start afresh in the New Year, have a route through your cupboard and anything that has wheat on the label goes in the bin! So that can mean bread, crackers, pasta, often even stock cubes. It’s hard at first, but the long-term rewards are worth it. There are a variety of wheat-free products available from health food stores and most big supermarkets, so it`s not as difficult as you may first think. A lot of the time, you really have to try a little bit of everything to realize your likes and dislikes.
Alternative grains to try are oats, spelt, buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth. These grains make delicious meals – porridge, stews, and fillers for vegetables.
The benefits of living wheat free outweigh the cons. The first thing is that you automatically notice that you aren`t as sluggish as before. No more pains in your stomach, no more bloating and its associated issues. Some people even report fewer headaches. So, these health benefits aren’t a bad thing at all! So, day 1, empty out the cupboards, create a wheat-free diet plan – plan out breakfast, lunch and dinner. It may seem confusing, but have a look on websites and blogs to see what’s out there. Have a look at www.wheatfreeliving.blogspot.com for some ideas. I advocate wheat-free living and review a variety of foods and even restaurants, so you’ll get good and bad reviews and it’ll give you an idea what to buy and where to find them! Head to the supermarket and health store, but give yourself an extra bit of time. At first you’ll need to read some labels to familiarize yourself with new foods and grains. But, with time, it will become second nature. Yes, it can be daunting, but it will be worth it! Your new long-found healthy lifestyle and the new you will thank you! Think about the nutritious value of traditional bread and wheat and you’ll soon realise that you can get far more out of your food.
To give you some help, here are some ideas: For breakfast, there are a range of options once you look into it more. Instead of cardboard cereal, you can actually eat something nutritious with its added benefits. Oats are a fantastic start to the day, filling you up for longer sustaining your energy.
Porridge is a warm and nourishing breakfast and can be eaten with almost any topping – honey, fresh fruit, dried fruit, or simply on its own with soya milk, or milk if you eat dairy. Oats also come in granolas, toasted and raw and are delicious. Other options are buckwheat and spelt cereals which again are an alternative to wheat and are just as filling. Have a look at www.wheatfreeliving.blogspot.com and click on the “breakfast” label for some reviews.
Lunchtime is always a challenge. Sandwiches have been the staple lunch diet of the 21st century, so it can be hard to find anything else, unless you make it yourself. There are a vast array of choices, from rice cakes, to oat cakes, corn cakes and gluten-free breads. There’s often an aisle in the supermarket dedicated to wheat-free and gluten-free foods. Other alternatives are soup, but be careful what you buy, cause some are loaded with gluten (a derivative of wheat), so my advice is to avoid soup, unless you make your own and you know what`s in it. Soup is easy to make and you can buy gluten-free stock/bouillon.
Dinner is probably the easiest meal to eat. As you are avoiding wheat, you can still eat rice, potatoes and any type of wheat-free pasta – corn, millet, rice or buckwheat pastas. There is a good variety available and some are tastier and have more flavour than traditional pasta. So, it`s a matter of testing and seeing what you like. I find the country markets great for pesto and hummus, which are always a delicious snack on bread or crackers – wheat-free of course. The pesto can be mixed in with pasta, for a quick, easy and nutritious dinner.
So, no fad diets or crazy promises for you this New Year! Ditch the resolutions that only last a few weeks at most. Give your body a chance and salute wheat-free living. Is it time for you to beat the wheat?