Wednesday, June 6, 2012
About three years ago, I was the most physically fit I had ever been. I was running almost every day, lifting weights and eating very well. My muscles began to show and my body fat reduced. You can imagine how puzzling it was for me to be burdened with a most uncomfortable, bloated lower abdomen. I literally felt like a small balloon had been blown up inside of me!
Wearing jeans was awful because of the the pressure on my little pot belly; the tight dresses I adored didn't look as good on me as they used to. That bump would stick out no matter how I tried to suck it in! My arms and legs were looking great, my abs were tight, but no amount of cardio or sit-ups would reduce that little belly. And sometimes it would grow! Despite having gained no weight and eating goddamn well, my stomach would grow and grow on its own. There was no way of knowing whether I could comfortably wear the same outfit I had sported a few days earlier. Frustration doesn't even begin to describe the way I felt.
Fast forward a couple of years and I felt like I was forced to accept my belly issue. I had developed some theories about my pot belly that I wasn't totally convinced by. They included:
-I was experiencing a natural slowdown in metabolism;
-I had irritable bowel syndrome
-My body was clinging on to fat because I wasn't consuming enough calories
-My body was retaining fluid
-My posture made my lower belly protrude
-My body was reacting to stress and swelling in a primeval manner to protect my womb (!!!)
It wasn't until I read up on bloating being a symptom of ovarian cancer that I panicked and called Dr. Dad to express my fears. He listened to my symptoms and assured me of the unlikelihood of it being so, before going on to say "It sounds like it could be an allergy related to wheat. Try cutting it out for a while."
I couldn't believe my ears! I had never once had a problem with wheat in my life. I was practically raised on the stuff! It was impossible that my disgustingly healthy morning bowl of bran or lunchtime salad sandwich on soy and linseed bread could be the culprit. And wasn't "wheat allergy" just a nonsense thing that naturopaths told everyone was the source of their health woes?
But I was desperate to have a flat stomach once again. I felt like I had deserved it, what with all the exercise I was doing. So I cut out the wheat. It was tough at first - as tough as the time I had to withdraw from cigarettes. I actually felt sad at restaurants when I had to wave away my beloved bread basket. A weekend breakfast without banana bread drizzled in butter felt like a punishment to me.
But despite my perceived "loss", I experienced a significant, life-changing gain. My bloated belly and all the discomfort was gone! I stopped experiencing the frustrating constipation that had plagued me for years. I no longer felt tired after eating my lunch and even my face started to take on a different shape. I was used to waking up to a puffy face for years but hey presto - the puffiness also disappeared! Any time I have reintroduced wheat back into my diet, the bloating, discomfort and itchy eyes return. I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't good for me.
It comes as no surprise to me that medical doctors have begun to question the so called "goodness" of wholegrains such as wheat. Cardiologist William Davis has written a very interesting book called "Wheat Belly" in reference to the big bellies that people are carrying around today. He argues that the wheat we consume today is very different to the wheat our ancestors were consuming and that, along with increases in body fat, a multitude of health problems stem from wheat consumption. Some of his claims include: