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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 (66)

  1. Zoe

Yikes! I didn't know about the addictive qualities of wheat. This explains alot. Thanks for sharing!

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  1. Chris

At about 4.5 weeks GF, I wish I would have read this sooner. Yes, I have been feeling like I am losing it and worte it off to not eating. I now realize that I have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms like crazy.
...

At about 4.5 weeks GF, I wish I would have read this sooner. Yes, I have been feeling like I am losing it and worte it off to not eating. I now realize that I have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms like crazy.

I was diagnosed with CD on 11/16 via biopsy so I did nto have much time to prepare, thus adding to my sense of "what the hell do I do now?"

Thanks for your post-helps a lot!

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear this post helped you and I'm sorry to hear about the CD.
...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear this post helped you and I'm sorry to hear about the CD.

The detox from going gluten-free really adds insult to injury when you get that diagnosis. Detoxing from grains is something hardly anyone talks about, but it does end if you're strict about staying off grains and refined sugar. I know the holiday season can be hell for that. The best of friends and relatives often don't understand that you can't eat even one bite of their fancy cookies, cake, or candy.

In self-defense, when I went GF, I always took along my own stash of dates with almond butter for a sweet treat. (But maybe you're not a sweet freak like I used to be.)

One other thing that can help is using natural, unscented personal care and laundry products because all the chemicals in the regular versions are very hard on the bowel, your emotions and your energy level.

All the best for good health in the coming year!

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  1. Amy

I went wheat and gluten free a little over a week ago. I feel energized and already are not craving wheat or sweets. But I do have a headache everyday. So it is nice to know that it will go away

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  1. lavinialuna

I am off, day two, and I am starving! Despite all the other good stuff I am eating, I am still hungry. Is this anything you've experienced? (I do have a headache fatigue and am irritable too!)

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Hi Lavinia,

Sorry, no, I don't remember experiencing that. I'm curious what you're eating. Did you go off all grains, or just wheat? Have...

Hi Lavinia,

Sorry, no, I don't remember experiencing that. I'm curious what you're eating. Did you go off all grains, or just wheat? Have you tried eating every 2 hours and including some protein and a little fat every time you eat? Fat is what provides satiation, so if you're vegetarian, it could be some avocado or if you tolerate it, some flax oil or almond butter.

Do you think it's true physical hunger, or is your brain signalling you that you're hungry because you've cut out a whole food group that your body is used to having? On the other hand, are you eating enough? (Back to the suggestion to eat every two hours - at least for the first four or five days.)

You might also try eating some of the heavier vegetables for that added feeling of bulk and comfort in your stomach - i.e. winter squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc.

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  1. Carol R

Thanks for this article! I have only been off wheat for a little over 24 hours and am so tired. But!! my bowel problem is returning to normal and I am a type 2 diatetic and my blood sugars are normal! I wish the dr. had told me to get off gulten...

Thanks for this article! I have only been off wheat for a little over 24 hours and am so tired. But!! my bowel problem is returning to normal and I am a type 2 diatetic and my blood sugars are normal! I wish the dr. had told me to get off gulten and I might see an improvement in my diabetes. I will definatly be GF forever. The benefits are too many to name and I know when the detox is over, I will feel so much better. thanks again.

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  1. Karen of No IBS

You're welcome, Carol. Thanks for your comment. It's exciting that your bowel and blood sugar symptoms are improving after only about 24 hours! Just goes to show that when you give your body what it needs (or take away what it doesn't need,) it...

You're welcome, Carol. Thanks for your comment. It's exciting that your bowel and blood sugar symptoms are improving after only about 24 hours! Just goes to show that when you give your body what it needs (or take away what it doesn't need,) it can heal itself.

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  1. Naomi

I'm so glad I came across this. I've had to give up gluten as been diagnosed with CD and I was feeling a little disheartened that although my stomach was feeling much much better, some of the other symptoms hadn't really disappeared - nausea,...

I'm so glad I came across this. I've had to give up gluten as been diagnosed with CD and I was feeling a little disheartened that although my stomach was feeling much much better, some of the other symptoms hadn't really disappeared - nausea, tiredness, aching muscles, etc. It's pretty cruel of nature though that you get almost exactly the same symptoms coming off gluten as you got from eating it!

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  1. Karen of No IBS

But the good part is that it doesn't last forever. Thanks for your comment, Naomi.

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