Friday, March 09, 2012

The Evil Twins: Wheat and Gluten

I had been feeling the ill effects from Fibromyalgia for just over a decade and was long on the hunt for the elusive pain reliever for this frustrating condition, as conventional pain medications unfortunately do not work for Fibro-related pain.  Its one thing to just suck it up and try and ignore the aches and pains in those tell-tale 18 body target points, but eventually the constant inflammation and pain signals alerting the brain that things are not right begin to manifest in your body in other, not so pleasant ways. 

Recently I visited a new Naturopath (I 'fired' my old one for reasons of 'induced paranoia'), who tested my body (among other things) for areas of inflammation. The results were quite astounding. It turns out my overall life force was weakened by several things I have been eating and the result was severe inflammation. The main culprit: wheat and gluten. I have long heard stories of these evil twins, but tried to ignore the fact that ingesting them was the cause of my pain. The thought of giving up baguettes and bagels was enough for me to have a breakdown and send me into therapy...

Not only was I experiencing pain in my joints and muscles, but I was increasingly gaining weight, something I attributed to what I endearingly call LOW-E (low estrogen, or early on-set menopause which I presumed was the result of  medication I had taken for breast cancer treatment... that is another story I will share with you later). Over the course of 8 months I packed on a total of ten pounds, which on my small frame had to be more than the result of indulging in all things gluten. I began to diet and at times ate only half of my daily calories, just to fit back into those jeans I wore one year earlier. 

After having some blood work done upon my Gynaecologist's recommendation,  it was revealed that I was still as fertile as a young maiden and thus the weight gain had absolutely no correlation to a decrease in hormones...Ugh!  

It was around the same time that a friend of mine mentioned a book she was reading called Wheat Belly, written by Dr. William Davis. On my next trip to the book store, I found it on one of the centre displays labelled New York Times Bestsellers. I read the back jacket and Eureka! had me at Reduction of inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis pain!! In addition I was intrigued by another comment: Did you know that eating two slices of whole wheat bread can increase your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of pure sugar can?

I have been off wheat and gluten for 3 months now. I feel so much better; I have way more energy, no more brain fog, no more bloating - yes that was a huge issue for me - and the pain in my joints and muscles has improved tremendously - and guess what...? I have lost those 10 pounds I was unable to shed before (and I am back in my favourite jeans again!!)

I can highly recommend this read for anyone who cares enough about their health - it is a very important documentation of the direction our diets are going (and that's not necessarily a good thing...)
Rating: *****/5 

P.S. My friend Jeanine has an awesome web-site called The Baking Beauties, featuring all things gluten free. Her recipes are amazing and the photos of her delicious creations are gorgeous!

This is a recipe I came up with to help me get through those busy days when I'm on the go and can't find a sensible wheat free snack...anywhere.

Yummy Wheat Free Energy Bars

1 cup oats ( I used the quick variety)
2 cups gluten free cereal (rice or corn crisps )
1 cup nut mixture (chopped walnuts, almonds, and pecans,  pumpkin, sunflower seeds)
plus 1/2 cup ground nuts (almond or walnut)
1 cup dried fruit mixture (raisins, apricots, currants, berries, apple...)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sesame seeds 
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
3 Tbsps chia seeds
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Place nut mixture (except ground nuts) in a skillet. Toast on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until slightly brown. Add salt and toss to coat. Set aside to cool. Chop any of the larger dried fruits, such as apple or apricots, so they are similar in size to the berries/raisins.

Blend ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup coconut sugar ( or any unrefined sugar)
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (available at Middle-Eastern shops)
1/4 cup pure unpasteurized honey

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into dry mixture. Stir until the mixture is well combined. Press firmly into 2 -  9" x 13" cookie sheets (or 1 cookie sheet for thicker bars). Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, then cut into bars. 
** Optional; add 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips to dry mixture for extra sweetness ( I usually make 1 pan of each).


  1. Thanks for the mention, Marlies! :) I've heard a lot of great things about that book, glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

    1. Its my pleasure Jeanine - your web-site is fabulous!! :)