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Have you ever tried to go wheat-free or gluten-free, only to give up after a few days? Did you blame yourself? Call yourself a wimp with no will-power? Give in to that one little piece of birthday cake that sent you back to eating other wheat products again?

Well, take heart. If you have had trouble giving up wheat, it’s not because you’re a wimp. It’s because wheat and other gluten grains contain a little-known ingredient that makes you crave them, just like a drug.

That’s right. Wheat’s dirty little secret is…it actually is addictive!

According to James Braly MD, and Ron Hoggan MA, authors of Dangerous Grains, wheat and cereal grains contain small amounts of opioids, a substance that makes them addictive.

Opioids have a calming effect, they relieve pain, and they produce euphoria, as do the endorphins our bodies produce. They’re not the same as opium, which comes from the opium poppy and is used to make morphine and codeine. (Opium is a type of opioid.)

Because the opioids in wheat products are addictive, when you don’t get your regular dose of bread or pasta or whatever, you start craving. That’s the real reason wheat is so hard to give up.

As with all addictive substances, when you give up wheat, there are definitely withdrawal symptoms! After I read Dangerous Grains and its terrifying list of gluten-related diseases and chronic conditions—and recognized several of my blood relatives’ health problems on that list—I decided to go completely gluten-free. No grains at all.

Let’s face it. The opioids in wheat and grains are pretty mild. So you’d think coming off them would be nothing compared to what people go through when they quit famously addictive drugs like morphine or heroin. Or even coffee. HA! Little did I know. (Not that I had anything to compare it to, since I don’t even drink coffee.)

Coming off grains was brutal. I had a headache for two weeks and I felt exhausted, depressed, and irritated the whole time. I was shocked to find that the withdrawal symptoms were so bad. If I hadn’t known that my body was going through a process of detoxification, I would have thought there was something REALLY wrong with me. Or maybe that I was going crazy.

But here’s the weird part…

Once the withdrawal symptoms were over, I pretty much lost interest in wheat and grains completely. I didn’t miss them—I didn’t even think about them. I also lost my food cravings. It was very interesting. Now when I see wheat products, they don’t even seem like food any more.

And yes, my emotions balanced out, the headache went away, and I got my energy back. In fact I ended up with more energy than before, probably because my body no longer had to deal with grains it couldn’t digest properly.

So the best thing to do when going gluten-free is to be prepared. Get all your grain substitutes in place before you start and choose a couple of weeks when you don’t have a lot of other pressures in your life.

Now that you know about wheat’s dirty little secret, you can use it to take control when you go gluten-free. When you go through those uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and negative emotions, make sure you lay the blame fully on the opioids instead of yourself. Detoxing from wheat and grains isn’t fun, but once it’s over, it’s over forever, along with all the other problems gluten causes. (Yippee!)

 

About the Authors

Hi. We are Karen Alison and Kathy Raymond and we help people self-heal their IBS naturally, with a doctor-recommended method that addresses the least-recognized aspect of this hellish condition – the way the brain triggers uncontrollable symptoms in the gut.

IBS is a lot like having PTSD (also once believed to be untreatable) because of the way your autonomic nervous system is triggered into producing symptoms. But, in a few short sessions, you can learn how to retrain your brain so you shut down the neural pathways that lead straight to diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and anxiety.

If you don’t deal with this underlying root cause of your problem, you’ll have to spend the rest of your life at the mercy of your Irritable Bowel… and it usually gets worse.

But you can make it stop NOW. Just click on this link for more information and follow the instructions to access the program.

Join the discussion

Your voice needs to be heard! Please let us know about your experiences with wheat and gluten in the Comments below.

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Comments (69)

  1. Wendy

This is a relief to know that although the withdrawals will be hideous...that the cravings will subside/disappear. Scary how wheat is addictive tho...

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Thanks for the kind words, Wendy.

Interesting that you had such strong cravings in the first few hours. Some people find it's a day or two before the really bad cravings set in. But eventually, they do pass, as long as you avoid all forms of gluten.

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  1. Wendy Gardner

Thinks scary and a relief...makes the effort to go gluten free worthwhile knowing the cravings will disappear..as the first few hours..I was craving more than ever..another awesome article written so beautifully.

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  1. Karen of No-IBS

Wow, Becky - good for you! It sounds like you are really moving in the healing direction.

Your bad stomach, eczema, alopecia, depression, etc, are all classic symptoms of gluten intolerance. Depression and brain fog are symptoms people often...

Wow, Becky - good for you! It sounds like you are really moving in the healing direction.

Your bad stomach, eczema, alopecia, depression, etc, are all classic symptoms of gluten intolerance. Depression and brain fog are symptoms people often don't realize are part of the gluten problem. In Elaine Gottschall's book about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, she talks about how many people find their mental and emotional problems clear up even before their physical symptoms, when they go GF.

Anyway, back to you - that's fantastic that you are seeing such positive changes from going GF! Yay!

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  1. Becky

Hi i gave up dairy 7 days ago and gluten and wheat 3 days ago.i felt good for the first 2 days,i woke on the 3rd day with a painfully sore throat and 2 hours later lost my voice and my face felt very warm,this lasted 2 days.on day 7 my face is...

Hi i gave up dairy 7 days ago and gluten and wheat 3 days ago.i felt good for the first 2 days,i woke on the 3rd day with a painfully sore throat and 2 hours later lost my voice and my face felt very warm,this lasted 2 days.on day 7 my face is still warm and now my legs are acheing and ive had a headache from day 1.also my face is breaking out in spots.ive also lost a lot of cattarh from my body..i dont care though,i have enjoyed the gf food so much and i cant believe how healthy my new diet is.i had become very bored with food and didnt enjoy cooking a week ago,now im enjoying shopping and food so much more.my reasons for quiting were bad stomach,alopecia that never grew back,lesions that couldnt be dignosed,swollen hard lymph nodes on my elbows that arnt lymphoma and excsema on my elbows and very itchy ears and very manic depression.i reached my lowest point and just happened to see a post about dairy and gluten allergys/sensitivity.i had been lactose free for a year and wondered why nothing had improved.after 7 days the lymph nodes are no longer red and swollen,my ears have hardly itched atall,my depression and hypers have eased,excsema isnt sore and the lesions arnt itching.and even though i am a new gf convert i know deep down my problems are over ?

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  1. Karen of No-IBS

Hi Sandi,
Keep going! I know it's hard but you'll get through it.
BTW, I don't know if you've only stopped wheat or you've stopped eating all gluten grains (rye, barley, spelt, kamut, and some oats.) It goes faster if you cut out all the gluten.

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  1. Sandi

Stopped wheat and sugar 7 weeks ago,don't miss them but the withdrawal has been horrible, I have cfs/fibromyalgia, must say my digestion has really improved so far.Looking forward to getting through it

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Hi Nicola,
Thanks for the feedback. The reason IBS is like PTSD is because - unless your IBS is from parasites or food reactions - IBS symptoms are frequently triggered by the amygdala and Autonomic Nervous System because of a brain pattern that...

Hi Nicola,
Thanks for the feedback. The reason IBS is like PTSD is because - unless your IBS is from parasites or food reactions - IBS symptoms are frequently triggered by the amygdala and Autonomic Nervous System because of a brain pattern that forms in response to a trauma - whether physical or emotional. People who have had car accidents, and war veterans (especially female,) often end up with IBS, and this is a function of the unresolved trauma. That's why it's similar to PTSD.

Hope that helps.

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  1. Nicola

I was with you until you likened IBS to PTSD.

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  1. Karen of No-IBS

Hi Jessica,
For the mental battle, I would use EFT Tapping (see articles and videos on this site.) Gum is fine as long as it's gluten-free and I would look for one that's sweetened with xylitol (from birch) or stevia, because artificial...

Hi Jessica,
For the mental battle, I would use EFT Tapping (see articles and videos on this site.) Gum is fine as long as it's gluten-free and I would look for one that's sweetened with xylitol (from birch) or stevia, because artificial sweeteners can give you a whopper headache and gastro problems.

For "bread-type" foods, personally, I would avoid all that stuff like the plague at least until your gut has healed - which could take 6 months or more. After that, you can see if you tolerate amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat (which is not a wheat, despite the name - it's from the rhubarb family.) In the meantime, if you're craving carbs, you could try baked sweet potatoes or make your own sweet potato chips in the oven. If you tolerate the fats, eat potato chips when you're desperate - but not Pringles or other types that have wheat in them. I know chips aren't the perfect food, but it's a better choice than cookies when you're going gluten-free!

Eat fruit. Make fruit salad or bake pears or apples with a bit of maple syrup if you like sweets. If you tolerate seeds (you mentioned nut allergy but not seeds?), you can make a really great fudge with 1 cup of tahini, (sesame seed paste), 1 cup of honey and 1 cup of cocoa powder (dairy-free) or carob powder. Heat on the stove enough to mix together then press into an 8x8 pan, or roll pieces into balls.

Can you eat dates? They often help to relieve feelings of deprivation. Make sure they don't have sugar on them, like those blocks of cooking dates do.

Also, if you eat a few bites of protein every 2 or 3 hours, it will help you get through the first few days more easily.

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