Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Nook - Wheat Belly

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, written by William Davis, MD:

Mmmm, don't those bagels on the cover of Wheat Belly look good?  That's probably what attracted me to the book in the first place, when it first came out last summer!  Considering the book has been out for almost a year, and it's still high on Amazon's sales list (#18), it seems as if there are a lot of people out there wanting to get rid of their wheat bellies, caused by eating all those yummy bagels, and any food containing wheat (&/or white flour).

The book is divided into 3 sections: part 1 takes a look at modern wheat, and how science has modified it to serve the needs of the producers instead of the consumers.  It's a bit scary to think that no real research was done to see if these modifications would be detrimental to human health.  So, by eating wheat, you're basically a human experiment.  Part 2 of the book concerns all the bad things wheat does to our bodies: obesity, celiac disease, insulin resistance, disrupts pH & speeds the aging process, to name a few.  Part 3 provides ideas and recipes to help you give up wheat for good.

Throughout the book, the author provides lots of scientific research on the subject, and there are several pages of reference notes in the back.  But he also tries to make the reading light and humorous, which sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't.  But it's always interesting reading, and there are many things about eating wheat that I was clueless about until reading this book.  I also really enjoyed all the patient anecdotes (most doctors prescribe medicine for ailments - Dr. Davis always prescribes going wheat-free).

When I started my first real job out of college, I remember chatting with one of my co-workers, and she mentioned that she can't eat bagels because they just make her gain weight.  I was in my early 20s at the time, and my daily breakfast during the workweek was a bagel, with cream cheese.  Monday through Friday.  I remember being surprised by her comment.  Weren't pasta and bread and bagels and cereal on the food pyramid, at the bottom even?  How could a person gain weight from bagels - wasn't that the doing of ice cream and butter? 

Thankfully, I've learned a lot about nutrition since then, and what seems like an innocent little treat (danish) or breakfast (bagel) or "healthy" option (whole wheat bread) are actually bad for you.  Thanks to Wheat Belly, I now know why.

After reading the book, I decided to do my own little experiment and give up wheat, and reduce the amount of wheat my family eats.  I thought it would be tough, but I've got to say, it's been a piece of cake (sorry for the bad pun).  I think what the author says about wheat being addicting is very true.  When you eat wheat, it's hard to stop at a reasonable amount, and a couple hours later, you want more.  When you give it up, it's easier to stay true to your appetite, and eat when you're hungry.  I haven't lost any weight in the couple of weeks that I've been off wheat, but the author makes a point to say that if you want to lose weight, your wheat-free diet should also incorporate lowering your carb intake, which I haven't done.

I've tried a few of the recipes in the book, and some of them are quite good.  I liked the wheat-free pizza (made with cauliflower) and really loved not having that comatose-post-pizza phase.  The three-cheese eggplant bake is really good.  I might try it again with zucchini next time.  I also love his idea of a little treat: a square of dark chocolate with some nut butter smeared on top.  Delicious!  There are more recipes in the book that I'd love to try, and I'm happy that the author is coming out with a Wheat Belly cookbook this Fall.  I'm definitely checking that out!

I have a funny story to share about the book.  Last summer, the Bachsters and I went to the pool for a couple of hours, and when we returned home, Ranger, our new little puppy, had found my Wheat Belly book and had torn it all up!  Since it was brand new book from the library, I had to pay them for it, and now I'm the proud owner of a shredded up copy of Wheat Belly.  Luckily, he only tore up the reference section and the cover (which is fine with me, I don't want those bagels tempting me anyway).  I joked with the Bachsters that Ranger had wheat belly......literally!


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