Ever since learning how wheat causes gut inflammation in nearly everyone, I came to terms with the fact that I have no room in my life for wheat, or any cereal grains, since I have a history of digestive disorders. After being a regular pasta junkie for the better part of my life, I quit. Cold turkey. 3 weeks ago. The great news is how much more mental clarity I have with the lifting of persistent “brain fog” that I couldn’t put my finger on.

But guess what? Those wheat-derived opioids are real: nausea, muscle tension in my TMJ, lightheadness, fatigue. I am in the middle of wheat withdrawal.

What gives? At first, this seemed ridiculous but after Googling “wheat withdrawal”, it became clear that many people experience this short-term setback for the long-term benefit of eliminating wheat from their diets.  Like celiacs or others with leaky gut, I crave the very food that makes me predisposed to illness: wheat. Eliminating corn (apparently a close second to wheat in toxicity) has been comparatively easy. While I miss the idea of corn chips with salsa and guacamole or polenta with homemade chicken cacciatore, I don’t crave it the way I do a plate of fresh pasta with homemade Bolognese sauce after a long day of skiing. Little did I realize that my narcotic habit was in the form of food.

The opportunity of subtracting toxic foods from one’s diet is discovering new foods that are more satisfying to eat, make you feel good, and contribute to long-term health and vitality. Truly, the opportunity is to find ways to enjoy your dietary changes.

The essence of nutritional therapy is buying into the concept that diet is the foundation of health or disease.  Not even exercise can trump this underlying reality, though it can postpone some of the effects of an unconscious diet. This can at first be demoralizing, given the high degree of confusion in nutritional “expertise”. However, it is far more empowering to control your own destiny in regards to your health even if it means wading through the lack of consensus.

As for me, experiencing symptoms of wheat withdrawal helps me tap into my determination to ride it out for a happier, healthier life.