Wheat – it’s everywhere. This is the one thing people quickly discover when opting for a wheat-free diet. Moving to wheat free living has more benefits then you think.
Wheat’s ubiquity should be of no surprise, however, when you think about our relationship to wheat and when it started.
We started eating wheat thousands of years ago, it was one of the first plants we ever learned to sow and harvest, it led to the growth of farming, of cities, of civilization itself. The planting of wheat then spread, from the Middle East across through Asia, and west through Europe and, eventually, the New World. It became, and still is, the staple food of millions upon millions of people throughout the world and is even tied to many religious ceremonies.
And yet, the actual scientific truth is, the stuff’s actually no good for us.
From the Pharaohs of Egypt to the Emperors of Rome, from the Crusader kings right through to Napoleon, the leaders of antiquity didn’t care about things like nutrition. Wheat was crucial because it could be grown in great quantities and feed lots of people.
It kept the peasants working, the soldiers marching and the machinery of state running.
It was the fuel which ran the world, wheat for the men, oats for the horses.
Then the industrial revolution came, which took the burden from the horses but which placed a heavier burden on the land to grow more and more wheat to feed more and more workers. And today, particularly with the massive growth of countries such as China, this process continues at an unprecedented pace.
In other words, don’t consider wheat a food consider it a fuel like oil or coal. We’ve been using it for years and gotten in the habit of consuming large quantities of it, it’s still relatively cheap and plentiful but, at the end of the day, it’s still toxic and, bit by bit, the stuff is slowly killing us.
Even if you don’t suffer from celiac disease you should still seriously consider giving up wheat. The fact of the matter is we simply cannot properly process the stuff – none of us. Removing wheat completely from your diet will therefore reduce the risk of various illnesses – including cancer.
So why are so many people still eating the stuff? Well partly it’s due to ignorance – people just don’t know how bad the stuff really is – partly due to habit though mostly, as mentioned earlier, it’s a cheap source of food and it’s basically everywhere.
When I walk into my local supermarket the first and last thing I see are wheat products. All those breakfast cereals that like to tell us how healthy they are, pretty much all the bread on the shelves, plus the pasta, the snacks, the processed foods – even a good lot of the meat and fish products – they’re made from, or with, wheat.
Trying to find products that aren’t wheat based, in other words, can be a real pain. Though is it really much pain compared to, say, bowel cancer? Healthy eating always means making sacrifices and there’s always going to be some degree of discipline involved, particularly when it comes to changing the habits of a lifetime.
Another excuse that’s commonly used is when people talk about the price of gluten-free (wheat-free) food. What, you mean like beans? Rice? Corn? Potatoes?
Yes it’s true, in the bad old days finding your favourite gluten-free foods was sometimes difficult, and, if you were buying from specialist health food shops, could also be expensive, the truth is today that most supermarkets, even the cheapest ones, all have an abundance of gluten-free meals and snacks. Other than that you just need to buy the same stuff you always bought; meat and fish (provided it’s not breaded), fruit and good, healthy vegetables.
Often times people don’t have a problem with the change of lifestyle and the initial inconvenience as one takes the time to learn which foods they should and should not be eating, nor do they find the change affects their pocket in any way. Instead, the problem many people have with going wheat-free is a social one.
See, we were raised to believe that wheat is good for us. Turn on the TV and at some point you’re bound to see a commercial come on for some bread or breakfast cereal where there’s a field of golden corn waving gently under a warm sun. What do most of us have for breakfast? Bread. What do most of us have for lunch? Bread. Maybe a sandwich with something in it, but, invariably, the bread is wheat-based. We might even think it’s whole wheat and therefore healthier, but in reality it’s like the difference between old-fashioned gas and unleaded.
When you’re on your own, however, you can maintain focus and discipline, staying away from certain foods, not eating in particular restaurants (like fast food places) and it’s all good until a social engagement arises which revolves around eating. This could be going out for a meal with friends, or going to a dinner party, or even just having a meal on a Sunday at your parents’ house. Suddenly you might well find yourself being questioned about your new eating habits, people might think they’re odd, or, even more socially awkward, that you’re being fussy!
That’s why, if at all possible, you should always tell people in advance, particularly if it’s a situation where somebody is preparing a meal for you. Of course this may not always be possible but still, instead of getting defensive, or worse, deciding to suspend your lifestyle choice, you should instead take the time to explain and, perhaps even educate, people about how and why you have decided to go wheat-free.
You don’t want to sound ungrateful of course, or preachy, nor do you want to put everyone to sleep, so just keep to the facts as much as possible. Remember a lot of people are still quite unaware as to the health risks that wheat can cause, so although you can’t expect everyone to embrace your new dietary choices, chances are you will cause many people to stop and think and, perhaps even consider following your example.